Portsmouth issues stop-work order on bridge building
PORTSMOUTH — A structure on the Sakonnet River Bridge has run afoul of the town's building code, according to Portsmouth officials.
On Friday, Building Inspector George Medeiros slapped a stop-work order on a structure that may be connected to the new toll gantry that was installed last week.
"It's a stop-work order on some building that is somehow associated with the tolls," said Town Council President James Seveney. "I don't know if it's a control for the gantry or what it is."
Neither Mr. Medeiros or Town Administrator John Klimm could be reached for comment Friday.
Mr. Seveney said the alleged building code violation came to light earlier this week.
"Someone from Coastal Electric went to George Medeiros to pull an electrical permit," he said. "George asked him, 'What's this for?'"
The town looked into the matter and found there was no permit for the building on file from the R.I. Bridge and Turnpike Authority (RITBA) or the R.I. Department of Transportation.
"(Mr. Medeiros) mailed off to (RITBA Executive Director) Buddy Croft and company a notice of violation and a cease-and-desist order," said Mr. Seveney.
The council president said the stop-work order is for that one structure only, and he doubts the notice will stop RITBA or RIDOT from going forth with their plans to charge a toll on the bridge starting on or around July 4.
"Based on what I've seen, nothing's stopped them so far," he said.
In April the town filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court — since joined by Tiverton and Bristol — to stop the implementation of the tolls. On Wednesday a federal judge denied the Town of Portsmouth's request for a temporary restraining order to stop work on the tolling system. However, a hearing on a preliminary injunction to bring a more definite stop to the work is set in the same court before the same judge (Ronald Lagueux) for 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 5.