Rhode Island Director of Transportation Peter Alviti is all about roads, but he’s a boater at heart — a Sun Q&A

Rhode Island Director of Transportation Peter Alviti is all about roads, but he’s a boater at heart — a Sun Q&A

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How long have you been RIDOT Director?

“Three years next month.”

Have you held previous positions with the state?

“This is my first step into state government. My first venture into the public sector was in the ’90s. I was asked by Mayor [Michael] Traficante to be the City of Cranston public works director. I found that to be very interesting. There was a whole other part of my brain that I had to use in the public sector.”

What do you find most satisfying about your work?

“It’s the right job at precisely the right time in my career. Just simply doing the public good sounds corny, but for me, it’s very, very gratifying. Creating ideas and policies that turn into rebuilding our bridges and roads.”

How has public-sector work changed your approach to your job?

“When I was a young civil engineer and my children asked a question like ‘how do you build a bridge?’ I would answer it ‘first you build a solid foundation and then you construct the piers the bridge structure is going to be on.’ If my grandchildren asked me that question now, my answer would be ‘you begin by meeting the governor and the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and develop policies that create a solid funding mechanism.’”

What is your biggest challenge?

“The safety issues keep me up at night. We had 84 fatalities last year. The year before, we had 50. That increase, particularly when we begin to look at the reasons — and we’ve got a group of epidemiologists from the Rhode Island Health Department helping us look at what the various causes of these accidents are — it troubles me that people are acting this way and it concerns me that there is more that we could do here … to help prevent that.”

Do you have any hobbies?

“Boating. In the summer, I spend all of my free time either on, in or working in my boat and in the winter, I spend most of my time either thinking about doing that during the summer or actually going out and doing maintenance work on it over the winter.”

Is there something about you that most people don’t know?

“No, what you see is pretty much what you get… I assume when I get up in the morning that just about every word that I say will find its way to the front page of the newspaper. I conduct myself in a manner that sets that forward, and I ask God every morning, first thing when I get up, to provide me with guidance to make the right decisions that will impact people during the day.”

More about Peter Alviti:

Born and grew up in: Silver Lake section of Providence

Current residence: Coventry

Married, six children, four grandchildren

Education: High School, LaSalle Academy, 1967; Roger Williams College (now University), construction engineering, 1972; Northeastern University, civil engineering, 1975

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