Winter Driving in Rhode Island

When winter weather strikes, RIDOT is ready to respond. The department has a fleet of 140 plow trucks. We also have access to 150 vendors that give us a combined force of about 450 trucks. If you are intrested in becoming a vendor, please see our Winter Vendor Services. Snow removal is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week operation. And it is a massive one. We budget about $20 million a year for winter storm management. Here is what we do with that money:

    Buy about 160,000 tons of salt | 15,000 tons of sand and | 14,000 gallons of brine. | Run 20 stockpile locations across the state. | Prep the road before storms. | Repair equipment as needed throughout the storms. | Pull from our bridge inspection crews, pavement marking crews, and storm water crews to help as necessary.
Over 450 Winter Operation Vehicles Available
Approximately 200 Winter Operation Personnel
20 Winter Material Stockpiles Across the State
Message Alerts, Social Media, Press Releases
2018/19 = Approximately 36" Snow
Budget: $20 Million for Snow and Ice Control

Last year, with 18 snow events we plowed 500 million cubic feet of snow!

Plowing is a continuous operation. Plowing is repeated until the storm stops and beyond. When a storm is intense, snow may accumulate on roads between plow sweeps. You may not see bare pavement until after the storm is over.

RIDOT strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible during snow management. Many of our vehicles have "green" technology that helps us conserve road salt. Our GPS-enabled closed loop salt metering systems allow us to apply salt more precisely while giving us location and time information so we know which roads were treated and when.

Depending on the type of storm and pavement temperatures, we may pretreat the roads. This involved an application of a salt brine which dries quickly and leaves a layer of salt on the pavement. This allows us to clear more with each pass of the plow and makes clean up easier at the end of the storm. The less salt we use, the less salt flows into nearby waterways.

Digging Out

Sidewalks & Street Parking

While RIDOT and municipal public works departments plow and treat the roads, in many communities it is the responsibility of the property owner to keep the sidewalks clear and passable in front of their homes or businesses.

We recommend you contact your local city or town public works department for information on rules and regulations regarding sidewalks. Some communities have laws that require sidewalks to be cleared within a specified time following a storm.

Also, cities and towns often issue parking bans leading up to snowstorms. Your cooperation aids us and municipalities in clearing the roads as quickly and thoroughly as possible. And, it could help you avoid a ticket or tow!

Driveways, Mailboxes & More

Snow plow operators continually push snow toward the curb line and in some cases into driveways, onto sidewalks or other walkways, and around mailboxes and other fixed objects like fire hydrants. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this inconvenience and additional snow may be deposited onto your driveway more than once until final cleanup is complete.

If possible, clear an area along the shoulder about 10 feet to the left of your driveway (when facing the street). Also, deposit shoveled snow to the right of your driveway, again facing the street. These techniques can minimize re-shoveling when plows make additional passes in front of your home or business. Check out a video on this courtesy of the Missouri Department of Transportation »

Where it's possible, locating your mailbox to the right side of your driveway can minimize damage from thrown snow.

Please do not shovel or blow snow into the roadway - it can create additional slick areas and hazards for motorists and pedestrians.

Bus Stops & Lots

Most of the bus stops serviced by RIPTA do not have fixed bus shelters, and the clearing of sidewalks at those stops is the responsibility of the abutting property owners. RIPTA has numerous partnerships to address snow removal at its busiest bus stops and at Kennedy Plaza in Providence. If you have questions about snow removal at a RIPTA stop, contact 401-781-9400.

We plow and treat state-owned commuter parking lots. Maintaining these lots can be challenging, as cars parked prior to a storm impede our ability to clear the lot. We make every effort to keep these lots clear of snow and ice - often visiting them late in the evening when they are empty.

Bike Paths

Rhode Island has more than 60 miles of off-road bike paths throughout Rhode Island. Maintenance responsibilities vary for our paths, but none are plowed or treated for ice.

We recommend that you use caution when cycling on the paths during winter months. Many of our bikeways have extensive tree canopies, and the same trees that provide cool shade in the heat of the summer limit sunlight and melting in the wintertime. The paths are available for other uses such as snow shoeing, walking and cross-country skiing, but all motorized vehicles including snowmobiles and ATVs are prohibited.

Getting Ready, Staying Alert

Safe driving in snow and ice begins with you! Preparedness is the name of the game, from getting your car ready for the season to providing ample time for travel when conditions are bad.

Get Winter Driving Tips »

Travel Planning Resources

Know before you go

Pothole Information

Plow Snow?
Join us this Winter!

For the Media

How to Contact Us »

RIDOT's Office of Communications and Customer Service coordinates inquiries with the media and provides information about upcoming storms and changing travel conditions.

Leading up to and during major snow events, we may organize press conferences or other media availability opportunities to provide information on our preparation and response to a storm. Occasionally, these events are coordinated through the R.I. Emergency Management Agency and the Governor's Office.

For any media inquiry regarding winter storms, please contact Charles St. Martin at charles.stmartin@dot.ri.gov. We remain in touch with key personnel and are your best resource for timely information to help you communicate with the public about the impact of winter storm conditions on our roadways.