PROVIDENCE — David Darlington, Chairman of the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) released a statement on the sabotage of equipment on the Sakonnet River Bridge in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Aug. 16.
“Today, at approximately 1 a.m. equipment on the Sakonnet River Bridge was intentionally damaged by fire. Police and fire responded to the scene, and the fire was quickly extinguished,” Mr. Darlington said in the press release issued mid-day Saturday.
“A backup system is in place and therefore there will be minimal interruption of the normal operations,” he continued. “Thanks to diligent work by repair crews, the main systems have either been restored or will be within the next several hours. We expect tolling on the bridge will continue as planned on Monday.”
Traffic on the bridge was uninterrupted. The fire affected only nearby equipment, not the bridge structure.
“The destruction of state property is a crime we take very seriously; the matter has been turned over to the Rhode Island State Police and will be investigated and prosecuted. We support the right of civil protest,” Mr. Darlington concluded. “We have no tolerance for vandalism and arson, which puts lives in peril. This act of attempted sabotage is not a victimless form of protest. It poses a potential danger to motorists and first responders, and the financial costs of the crime are borne by toll payers.”
A RITBA worker who was on the span’s bike path Saturday around 1 p.m. said the brick building that contains the tolling mechanism on the Portsmouth side of the bridge was not damaged. What was vandalized, he said, seems to have been the conduits containing electrical wires.