Cargo Transportation in Rhode Island

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Cargo Transportation in Rhode Island
The movement of goods within and through Rhode Island is dependent on highways and roads for short- (local), medium- (regional), and long-distance transport. Highways and roads also support the movement of goods to and from intermodal freight facilities such as ports, airports, and rail terminals to final destinations. In Rhode Island each day, trucks move approximately 88 percent of all freight value on the state’s 6,528 miles of roadways.

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Major Highways/Corridors
Rhode Island has three interstate highways that total approximately 90 miles in length. As listed in Table 6, the state also has 561 miles of primary arterials roadways, 422 miles of minor arterial roadways, and 895 miles of collector roadways. Rhode Island also has over 4,500 miles of local roadways. 

Interstate 95 (I-95) is the main north-south highway on the East Coast and runs almost 2,000 miles between Florida and Maine. I-95 connects major metropolitan areas including Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Miami. I-95 provides an important regional and national connection for Rhode Island. As a designated High Priority Corridor of the National Highway System (NHS), I-95 supports Rhode Island’s regional, national, and international trade by linking the state to Massachusetts and Connecticut, the national highway system, important marine, air cargo, and intermodal facilities, and major population centers.

As shown in Figure 5, I-95 runs 45.7 miles from Hopkinton in the southwest corner of the state, near the Connecticut border northeasterly towards Providence. South of Providence, I-95 connects to I-295, a western bypass highway that reconnects to I-95 north of Providence in Massachusetts. In Providence, I-95 also connects to I-195, which provides access to southeastern Massachusetts. The corridor connects to Massachusetts and the Boston metropolitan area in the northeastern corner of the state. 

Rhode Island has a variety of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) infrastructure throughout the state, including roadway cameras, permanent and temporary electronic signage, roadway sensors, and supporting communications network. The state’s 2015-2020 ITS Strategic Deployment Plan documents the existing and proposed ITS devices and recommends numerous short- and long-term improvements. According to the plan, the state currently has 130 roadway cameras that are used for incident detection along congested highways. The state has dynamic message signs, portable variable message signs, and highway advisory radio network to provide motorist notifications of congestion, travel times, accidents, and road construction. The state’s ITS infrastructure also includes several types of roadway data collection systems, such as radar vehicle detectors, traffic data sensors, counters, and weigh-inmotion (WIM) devices. The state also uses travel time data from the National Performance Management Research Dataset manage the transportation network and assess network performance. 

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Truck Routes and Hazardous Restricted Routes
As shown on Figure 7 and referenced in Table 9, Rhode Island has a number of Restricted Hazardous Materials Routes included on the US DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) National Hazardous Materials Route Registry (NHMRR).24 The NHMRR is a listing, as reported by state and tribal government routing officials, of every designated and restricted road for highway route-controlled quantities of radioactive materials and nonradioactive hazmat transportation. 

All of Rhode Island’s Restricted Hazardous Materials Routes have a level 0 restriction, which means that the restrictions on the routes apply to all categories of hazardous materials. The majority of these restricted routes were initially listed in July 1984 due to proximity to public water supplies or reservoirs.

FMCSA published the most recent list on April 29, 2015. Each state is responsible for submitting changes or additions to the preferred and restricted hazardous materials routes to the FMCSA on an annual basis. The Office of Waste Management in the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is responsible for managing the restricted hazardous materials routes for the state. The state does not have any designated preferred routes.