NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — During the busy morning commute Thursday, several large potholes opened up on Route 146 in North Smithfield, damaging vehicles and stalling traffic.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti apologized to drivers and said repairs are in the works.
“At least a couple of dozen cars were involved,” Alviti said.
Recent weather created a perfect storm for the tire-ruining craters in the road, according to Alviti.
“We had a lot of rain, followed by a very quick freeze. Water will find its way under the pavement. It freezes and expands, and then you get a very warm day like today, where it thaws and the pavement collapses and breaks apart,” he explained.
There are short term and long term fixes planned for the construction zone.
Thursday morning, the pothole that damaged cars was filled in with cold patch. Alviti said a more substantial concrete patch will be completed Friday. RIDOT shut down the affected lane Thursday night to assess the deteriorated pavement.
In a couple weeks, the area will be patched with asphalt, and then in the spring, Alviti said he the construction zone will be paved. Paving was not originally included in the budget for the construction project.
“We didn’t want to go through that expense,” Alviti said. “But to save the people that travel through there, given the deterioration of the sub-base pavement in that area, it’s something that we are electing to do.”
Alviti said the patches over the next several days will cost less than $10,000, while paving will cost an extra $100,000.
RIDOT is also promising to reimburse drivers for damage caused by the potholes.
According to R.I. state law, pothole claims must be filed within seven days of the damage. Reimbursements are capped at $300, and once claims are approved, they will be paid within 45 days.
Call 12 for Action has learned in 2018, 722 pothole claims were filed with RIDOT. The state paid 427 of them.