The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced today that it is seeking qualified bidders to inspect and inventory its statewide system of catch basins, manholes and outfalls in an ongoing effort to better meet state and federal stormwater drainage regulations and make necessary infrastructure improvements to reduce flooding. The assessment also marks the administration's continued efforts to protect the environment and support job growth.
This work comes on the heels of landmark legislation passed this year to eliminate outdated underground wastewater systems like cesspools and streamline wetlands permitting by providing a consistent process for the business community while strengthening wetlands protection.
"We have already made great strides in conservation efforts this year, and this is just the latest example," Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. "It's great to see RIDOT stepping forward to do its part to protect the environment and provide a reliable and sustainable infrastructure for all of Rhode Island."
Although it is estimated that the state is responsible for 25,000 stormwater catch basins, 2,000 outfalls, and 100 structural best management practices (stormwater treatment systems like detention ponds, retention ponds, and stormwater treatment units), this will be the first assessment of its kind by RIDOT. The results of this assessment will provide a comprehensive inventory of these assets and help the Department take a proactive approach to cleaning and maintaining these structures, rather than just responding to reports of flooding and damaged drainage systems.
"Just like our recent re-inspection of the state's structurally deficient bridges, this assessment is the first step in putting our house in order when it comes to drainage systems," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "Rhode Island is blessed with abundant natural resources including Narragansett Bay and hundreds of lakes, ponds and rivers. It is imperative that we protect these fragile resources."
Failure to properly maintain the state's drainage systems could result in water contamination and closed roadways resulting from significant weather events. Additionally, a properly maintained drainage system will also help to protect the state's investment in paving by prolonging the life of Rhode Island's roads.
RIDOT also is in the process of implementing an asset management approach throughout the Department. This involves developing a comprehensive inventory of every piece of infrastructure and tracking their needs to assure they are properly maintained, reducing the need for costly rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. The drainage assessment is a key piece of this approach, allowing the Department to bring this important system into a state of good repair and strategically plan for its long-term upkeep.
With this new assessment in hand, RIDOT plans to establish a more comprehensive approach to maintaining the state's drainage system, made possible by a new drainage crew in its Highway & Bridge Maintenance Division that will focus entirely on maintaining the system. Currently, this is just one of many responsibilities for its existing crews.
"This is one of many improvements we're looking to tackle at RIDOT," Alviti. "We're taking a back to basics approach across the board, and having a fully integrated plan for maintaining our drainage system is paramount as we move forward."