Deemed an unnecessary expense, the Rhode Island highway
department is doing away with its call box system.
The department said dropping the system, in operation since
1979, will save the state about $1 million needed for upgrades, plus about
$750,000 a year to maintain it. The removal will also avoid encouraging drivers
from walking along the highway, according to the department.
“There are enough redundant features built into the
interstate system to keep motorists in need of assistance safe in an
emergency,” James Capaldi, RIDOT director, said in a statement. “Walking down
Route 95 to find a call box is not one of them. Passing motorists can help by
being Good Samaritans and call in motorists in distress.”
Raymond LaBelle, executive director of the state’s Emergency
9-1-1 telephone system, said the public can use cell phones to dial 9-1-1 for
The state police can be reached by dialing *S-P, the same as
There are 284 call boxes located on Interstates 95, 195,
295, the Jamestown Bridge and Route 138 from the Jamestown Bridge to the
Newport Bridge toll plaza. The boxes connect callers directly to a RIDOT
But the department said the system is expensive to maintain
and has been operating only “sporadically.” More than 50 boxes reportedly are
out of service.
In the New England region, only Massachusetts still uses a
call box system on its major highways, RIDOT said. Maine, New Hampshire and
Vermont do not have the systems. In Connecticut, call boxes are used on two
Rhode Island estimates that 520,000 people in the state have