As the RhodeWorks program kicked into full gear in 2016, RIDOT quickly put a substantial amount of road and bridge projects out to bid — rivaling pre-recession levels for the first time. This was the main topic of discussion at the annual CIRI Fall Dinner Meeting on November 9. Held at Alpine Country Club in Cranston, the event attracted 197 attendees from the CIRI membership. Featured speakers were:
Joe Baker • RIDOT Senior Civil Engineer
Equipped with a dedicated and dependable source of state funds for the first time in its history, RIDOT hit the ground running with a dramatic increase in projects advertised and awarded. In his FFY 2016 recap, Joe Baker recounted a year which saw $174M in advertised projects — $74M greater than the volume advertised two years prior. $200M in projects is slated for FFY 2017, with another increase planned for FFY 2018.
“The key focus of RhodeWorks is to get our bridges back where they need to be,” Baker said, “and to reduce our structurally-deficient portion to less than 10% within a 10-year period.”
Baker also pointed to RIDOT initiatives to increase transparency, while speeding up delivery. This has resulted in well-publicized successes such as the fast-track replacements of East Shore Expressway Bridge in East Providence and the Hussey Bridge in Wickford, along with the completion of the Apponaug Circulator in Warwick.
Amine Ghanem, PhD • Roger Williams University
Associate Professor of Construction Management
Part of the mission of the CIRI Industry Advancement Fund is to help support young industry hopefuls at the college level. Professor Amine Ghanem of Roger Williams University was on hand to speak about the RWU Heavy/Highway Competition Team — sponsored by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) — for which CIRI provides travel support.
With the members of his team in attendance, Dr. Ghanem described the three-day event which begins with a collaborative 14-hour workday, followed by formal team presentations the second day, and a Career Day with prominent participating companies on the third day. Over the years, the RWU team has enjoyed substantial success at this late-October event.
“We truly appreciate the support of our students by organizations like CIRI,” Ghanem said. “The Heavy Civil sector is an area of interest we’re looking expand at RWU. And the ASC event is a great learning opportunity that puts them into a real-life construction experience.”