- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A bridge in Cranston reopened to traffic on Tuesday, a month after its closure prompted a call for an investigation by the House speaker.

The state Department of Transportation announced it was reopening the bridge six days ahead of schedule. It closed the bridge June 23 after officials deemed it a safety risk.

The bridge, above an Amtrak line, is near Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s law office.

Mattiello has questioned why the department didn’t fix the bridge sooner rather than close it. He asked for an investigation.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo didn’t order one. She pointed out the bridge has been structurally deficient and weight restricted for years.

The DOT awarded John Rocchio Corp. a $411,000 contract for the work in Cranston. The fix is temporary, and the bridge remains structurally deficient.

Raimondo said on Tuesday she’s pleased the bridge was reopened early because its closure has been “a great inconvenience” to Cranston residents. About 17,000 vehicles use the bridge daily.

Raimondo called again for sustainable funding to fix bridges. She proposes tolling large trucks.

“The bridge is still on our structurally deficient list, and the fact remains that we need a sustainable funding formula in order to be able to rebuild our roads and bridges across Rhode Island,” she said. “I’m working hard with the General Assembly to make sure that happens.”

Before the regular session ended last month, the Senate endorsed Raimondo’s plan to toll large trucks to pay for a $500 million revenue bond for the state’s deteriorating bridges. The House didn’t.

Mattiello wants to return in the fall to consider a modified tolling plan that does more to account for the trucking industry’s concerns and the impact on businesses.

Raimondo said she’s encouraging the House to pass the current proposal, which Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed also supports.

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