One of the state’s new ‘Roadside Responder’ trucks. (Courtesy of Rhode Island Department of Transportation)
Out of fuel and stranded on I-95?
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced Tuesday it is deploying service trucks on some of the state’s highways to help with that, among other roadside services.
Under the pilot program, two specially marked Ford F-350 pickup trucks will patrol all of I-195 in Rhode Island and I-95 from the Massachusetts state line in Pawtucket to Airport Connector in Warwick during peak travel times, 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
So-called “Roadside Responder” will provide fuel, change flat tires, make minor mechanical repairs, jumpstart a dead battery, or call for a tow truck. Units can also help with traffic control, RIDOT said.
“These vehicles will be an extra set of hands and extra pair of eyes on our busiest highways,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said in a statement. “By helping others who have the misfortune to break down on the side of the Interstate, we will keep the highways flowing better and safer for all drivers.”
Along with assisting drivers, RIDOT officials say if a disabled vehicle is quickly dealt with, the disruption to traffic can be minimized.
“Removing disabled vehicles helps alleviate congestion,” RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin said in an email Tuesday. “Even though the vehicle may be in a breakdown lane and not in a travel lane, just the presence of a disabled vehicle causes traffic congestion.”
RIDOT said the new service is not on-call and that if a motorist needs immediate assistance, they should contact a provider like AAA.
AAA Northeast Vice President of Public Affairs Mary McGuire said she is glad to hear of the state’s plans to help stranded motorists.
“It takes a village of stakeholders working together to enhance transportation safety and efficiency here in the Ocean State and across the country,” she said.
St. Martin said RIDOT’s pilot program is contracted for two years and costs $680,000.
Funding is provided through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $576 million to Rhode Island between 2022 and 2026 to improve its transportation infrastructure.
Overall, RIDOT projects this pilot service can save 238,000 hours of vehicle delays, 58,000 gallons of fuel, and 580 tons of carbon emissions.
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