On Feb. 19, the Department of Administration held public hearings on changes to the classified and unclassified service classifications and pay plans designed to authorize 14 positions at RIDOT.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced the latest step in the largest reorganization in its history that will position the department to effectively and efficiently manage and deliver transportation projects on time, on budget and with the highest quality.
On Feb. 19, the Department of Administration held public hearings on changes to the classified and unclassified service classifications and pay plans designed to authorize 14 positions at RIDOT. This is being done within RIDOT's employment level cap and budgeting has already been allocated for them. Actual hiring of new personnel cannot proceed without this public hearing process.
“While we've worked hard to support the improvement of our roads and bridges, a primary focus of the new administration also has been to move quickly to get our house in order and put the department in the best position for success,” Peter Alviti Jr., RIDOT director said. “A project management approach — an industry standard in all manner of construction — will ensure that the taxpayers' dollars are protected as we build a world-class transportation system and a stronger Rhode Island.”
RIDOT's approach follows a philosophy of “plan your work, work your plan” and includes distinct divisions for the planning and implementation of projects. This allows both units to focus on divisional objectives while still contributing toward the department's overall goal of renewing Rhode Island's infrastructure and supporting economic growth.
The centerpiece of RIDOT's reorganization is the new division of project management. This division is charged with oversight and management of all projects from initial design through final completion. Project managers at RIDOT will closely monitor schedules, coordinate permits and regulatory requirements, and ensure that projects are completed on time, on budget and at the highest quality. The hearing includes four classifications of positions for project management, one administrator, one manager and two levels of project managers. RIDOT intends to seek approximately 20 individuals for those jobs in the coming year.
Other new classes of positions to be created, or include a change in title, are as follows:
• administrator, division of planning*
• chief operating officer*
• legislative director*
• administrator, stormwater management
• administrator, office of transit, new starts, operations and transportation alternatives
• chief safety officer
• manager, construction management
• manager, in-house design engineering
• administrator, civil rights programs
• manager, materials and quality assurance
* these positions are considered unclassified
The process follows the creation of three other unclassified positions last fall — chief of staff, director of communications and policy director.
RIDOT also is announcing the hiring of Celia J. Blue as its new chief of staff. Blue has implemented performance measures and accountability metrics at MassDOT. Recruitment is under way for the other two positions.
Another major focus of RIDOT's reorganization is the abolishment of 40 funded administrative positions — including a deputy chief engineer, a building specialist, a photographer and other management positions — and transferring them to the new maintenance and operation division. Responsible for day-to-day work such as filling potholes, plowing snow, sweeping roads, cutting grass and repairing traffic signals and street lights, the number of on-the-ground workers has declined significantly over the years. These additional positions represent 1 out of every 19 employees at RIDOT, a 20 percent increase in staffing and a down payment toward improving maintenance for Rhode Island's roads and bridges.
“Preventative maintenance is critical in keeping our roads and bridges in good condition and extending their service life,” Alviti said. “It's common sense. If we keep doing what we've always done in our maintenance division, we'll get what we have now — a division that lacks the tools and personnel to do its job.”
To go along with the new emphasis on project management, RIDOT also is implementing an asset management process throughout the department. This involves developing a comprehensive infrastructure inventory, tracking each piece to assure it is properly maintained, reducing the need for costly rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.
“Using a project management approach with a strong asset management plan in place will streamline RIDOT, get us back to basics and transition the department into one that is keenly focused on planning and delivering road and bridge projects,” Alviti said.