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2/6/2015 Goodwin, Blazejewski bill would tap DOT to clear snow from sidewalks on overpasses, pedestrian bridges
STATE HOUSE – Local ordinances in many cities and towns across Rhode Island require residential and business property owners to shovel the sidewalks in front of their land after snowstorms.

But what about sidewalks that aren’t in front of anyone’s property, such as those on highway overpasses?

Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski believe the state should take responsibility for the snow in such areas, and have filed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to clear the sidewalks on state highway overpasses and overhead pedestrian walkways that are under state control.

After two weeks that walloped Rhode Island with well over two feet of snow, the Providence legislators said it’s become apparent by the many pedestrians being forced to dodge traffic in the street that sidewalks in those two areas seem to be among the most neglected after snowstorms.

“We have residents and business owners who get out there and spend hours shoveling, but then pedestrians get to the end of their property where there’s an overpass and have to climb over a giant snow bank to walk in the road anyway,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence). “Right now, it seems no one is in charge of clearing these sidewalks, since they aren’t in front of private or public property. Designating the Department of Transportation will ensure that someone takes responsibility for them.”

Said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), “Sidewalks on the overpasses are rarely, if ever, shoveled, and it’s very dangerous for all the people who walk along our city streets. We have several major highways running through Providence as well as a great deal of pedestrian traffic on the surface roads above them, so it’s a serious problem. Pedestrian bridges become completely impassible if they’re not shoveled, and the result is that people either can’t walk to some places at all, or some try to dart across traffic on the extremely dangerous highways below them to get to their destination. The recent blizzard and storms made it very apparent that we need an agency to take ownership of clearing the snow on sidewalks on overpasses.”

The legislation (2015-S 0195 and 2015-H 5349) would give the DOT 24 hours after the end of a snowfall to clear the sidewalks on state highway overpasses and overhead pedestrian walkways under state control. The legislation was introduced yesterday in both chambers.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923