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3/7/2024 Whip Lawson, East Bay legislators introduce legislation requiring regular, comprehensive Washington Bridge updates
STATE HOUSE – To ensure Rhode Islanders receive reliable, constant, and comprehensive updates regarding the status of the Washington Bridge, Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson and other East Bay lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require regular monthly reports from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
“For my constituents in East Providence, and for residents across East Bay communities, the weeks since the sudden closure of the westbound side of Washington Bridge have been filled with enormous disruptions to daily life. Businesses have seen steep declines in patronage, neighborhoods have been flooded with traffic, and local services have been placed under incredible strain,” said Whip Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).
She continued, “My colleagues and I are seeking to ensure that everyone impacted by this situation – in the East Bay and across Rhode Island – receives timely, thorough information about the status of the bridge, the plans for its future, the timeline involved, and the steps being taken to alleviate traffic while work continues. The legislation we are introducing today takes a thoughtful approach to providing Rhode Islanders with transparency and predictability.”
Similar to a bill introduced recently in the House of Representatives, the legislation (2024-S 2727) would mandate that RIDOT provide monthly reports on developments related to the Washington Bridge to the General Assembly. It is sponsored by Whip Lawson and co-sponsored by East Providence Senators Pamela J. Lauria and Robert Britto, as well as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren), Senator Linda L. Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol), Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics & Oversight Chairman Mark P. McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), and Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton).
The Senate legislation would require the first report be submitted within 30 days of the legislation being signed into law. It would also require that the report include information regarding any alternative routes or means of transportation being utilized to reduce traffic across the bridge, such as ferry service. Additionally, the legislation would require that overtime costs for schools submitted for reimbursement – in addition to costs for traffic details, police, fire, rescue, and other related services – be included in the reporting associated with the bridge closure and related disruptions.
“Having the most current and complete information possible when it comes to the Washington Bridge is not just a courtesy. For us who reside in East Providence, it is an absolute necessity. We need that information to go about our daily lives – getting to work or doctors’ appointments, or just getting across town. This is an extremely difficult situation, and I am very grateful to everyone who has responded to help – especially members of our East Bay communities who have stepped up to assist their neighbors. Together, we will get through this and find ways to minimize the impacts as much as possible for everyone who is affected,” said Senator Britto (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).
“Residents of the East Bay are rightfully frustrated, and they deserve the fullest possible picture of how the Washington Bridge closure is being addressed. I feel their frustration as I drive this route every day. Above all, the lack of predictability too many Rhode Islanders are experiencing while simply living their day-to-day routines and obligations is simply unacceptable. Safety is absolutely the top priority, but we must also adequately inform and empower our constituents to cope with this situation. I am proud to work with Whip Lawson and Senator Britto on this bill, and I will continue to work with all leaders and stakeholders to find the best possible solutions for my constituents and all Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics & Oversight.

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903