New I-195 billboards blast RIDOT, McKee’s Washington Bridge response

New I-195 billboards blast RIDOT, McKee’s Washington Bridge response

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Drivers using Interstate 195 on Monday may have seen a few new messages on the billboard near the Broadway exit in East Providence.


“If they had done their job you would be home already,” one reads. The other proclaims, “They knew in 2012.”

Watchdog RI billboard reading “The Washington Bridge: If they had done their job you would be home already.” (Jake Holter/WPRI-TV)
Watchdog RI billboard reading “The Washington Bridge: They knew in 2012.” (Jake Holter/WPRI-TV)

The billboard messages criticize Governor Dan McKee’s administration and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) for their response to the emergency closure of the westbound Washington Bridge. They were paid for by Watchdog RI, which describes itself as a non-partisan nonprofit organization.

“I can’t think of a more important issue that’s in front of us right now in this state,” Watchdog RI Chairman Ken Block told 12 News.

Ken Block, Chairman of Watchdog RI (Jake Holter/WPRI-TV)

“The billboard is certainly talking to an audience that we want to hit,” Block explained. “And those are the commuters who have been most impacted by the insanity of this closed bridge and the aftermath of what’s happened.”

McKee himself was critical of the messages, which are visible to cars traveling west on I-195 over the Washington Bridge, calling them “about 60 days too late.”

“Right now, our traffic flow is a little bit better going west than it was prior to the bridge closing,” McKee told reporters Monday morning. “Slightly a minute or two more going on the east side.”

Block acknowledged that westbound traffic has become much better since RIDOT added a third lane in both directions on the eastbound side of the bridge, but pointed out that eastbound traffic “has been a disaster,” citing occasions when traveling from Providence to the East Bay took drivers up to two hours.

“There are a lot of continuing impacts of the bridge closure. There are businesses in Wayland Square that have shut down because of the impact of all of this,” Block said. “And again, for those who live on the East Bay who are trying to come home at the end of the day, that ride is still particularly difficult.”

Watchdog RI has enough money to run its billboard messages for one month and is actively fundraising to extend that time, Block told 12 News.