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As winter storm approaches, McKee announces travel ban on R.I. roads Saturday

All public transportation has been cancelled, and state-run COVID testing and vaccination sites will be closed.

Governor Daniel J. McKee announces expanded emergency shelter capacity during a news conference at the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness offices in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.Edward Fitzpatrick

PROVIDENCE — Governor Dan McKee said he was banning motor vehicles starting at 8 a.m. Saturday until at least 8 p.m. as a major winter storm approaches the state.

McKee also said tractor trailers will be banned for a more extensive period of time: 6 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. Also, all RIPTA routes has been canceled and state-run testing and vaccination sites will be closed.

“The best way to handle this storm is to stay home tomorrow,” McKee said at a news conference at the state Emergency Management Agency in Cranston.

McKee was scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., on Friday for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting and to talk with President Joe Biden, but opted to cancel his trip.

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“I am here for the storm and to make sure people are safe,” he said.

McKee also urged Rhode Islanders to follow local parking bans, and said he was declaring a state of emergency. A state of emergency could allow the state to potentially access federal funds.

Rhode Island is currently under a blizzard warning.

Col. James Manni, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said drivers would be stopped and summonsed if they are driving Saturday, although they will not ticket people who are driving in true emergencies, like if they’re a nurse or doctor on the way to work.

During a press conference earlier Friday, Peter Alviti Jr., the director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, warned people to stay off the roads during the storm, saying while RIDOT plow drivers will be out in force, “there will be very intense snow very quickly.”

“This is a big one. The biggest one we’ve had in a while here in Rhode Island,” Alviti said. “We are very well prepared in the amount of material we have to pre-treat the roads and treat them before and after the storm.”

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“It will be difficult for our drivers, but it will be more difficult for people traveling on the road tomorrow,” he said. “It will be impossible for a normal passenger vehicle to travel on those roads. There will be times that the snowfall will get ahead of our ability to remove it. It will be treacherous for people to drive in those conditions.”


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Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.