State Representative Michael Chippendale Only State Official to Testify at Traffic Commission Hearing to Consider DOT Request to Shut Roads to Trucks
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After Hearing Rep. Chippendale's Testimony, Commission Voted 3-2 to Defeat the DOT Request
STATE HOUSE -- Today, on Thursday, August 17th, 2017 at 9:30 a.m., the Rhode Island State Traffic Commission met at the RI State House to consider a request from the RI Department of Transportation to "restrict through tractor trailers" on 14 major roadways throughout the state.
A letter dated August 11, 2017 from the State of Rhode Island State Traffic Commission (STC) was sent to all mayors, town administrators, town managers, chiefs of police, RISP Colonel Assumpico, RIDOT Director Peter Aliviti as well as all Representatives and Senators in districts affected by this proposal, outlining the roads and sections of roads that would be shut down to through traffic by certain trucks.
The 9:30 a.m. hearing was sparsely attended by the public with five STC Commissioners in attendance to consider any testimony on the aforementioned issue of traffic restrictions. The only state-level elected official to attend the hearing and to testify on the proposal was Representative Michael W. Chippendale (R - District 40, Coventry, Foster, Glocester). Representative Chippendale testified that he felt the meeting was "inappropriate" based on the "extremely short notice given to the cities, towns, businesses and the public" that the STC was considering this sweeping change to our traffic restrictions.
"I received the letter postmarked on August 14th, and hadn't even opened it until the 16th", stated Chippendale. "I received a phone call from a local business owner at 7 a.m. on the day of the meeting alerting me to the destructive impact this proposal would have on his business as well as the towns along these routes. I knew then that I had to cancel my appointments for the morning and personally get to the hearing to express my steep concerns about the proposal, and what I consider to be a 'less-than-transparent' hearing process."
Representative Chippendale implored the commission to not only consider his request to hold future hearings so that municipalities, businesses and the public can offer input on this particular proposal, but explained just exactly what the "real-life" impact of such a change would mean for local businesses. Chippendale also expressed his dismay that the hearing was so lightly publicized and indicated that he felt it was inappropriate for the Commission to take any action under the circumstances.
A motion was made by a State Traffic Commissioner to approve the request, seconded and discussion then ensued. The majority of the discussion revolved around the concerns and problems articulated by Representative Chippendale and some commissioners echoed Chippendale's concerns about the short notice for the hearing as well as the unforeseen circumstances that would arise. The commission voted on the motion and it failed on a vote of 2 to 3.
Another Commissioner then moved to postpone the vote until a future meeting can be held with sufficient notice being given to receive input from the municipalities, businesses and citizens of the affected towns. This motion was seconded and passed by a margin of 3-2.
"I was extremely dismayed to show up at this hearing and see that I was the only legislator or state official who appeared and also testified on this proposal," said Chippendale. "I fear that if I hadn't spoken so strongly against the proposal and the process by which they were attempting to approve it, it may have simply been rubber-stamped."
Chippendale praised the commissioners who dissented, "I sincerely want to thank Chief Edward A. Melo and the other commissioners who were objective and recognized that there clearly were too many unanswered questions to approve this request without further information."
For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903