The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) opened the newest segment of the Coventry Greenway following a ribbon cutting ceremony on the path this morning. The path connects two existing bike paths to form a continuous 14.2-mile bikeway, making it the second-longest bike path in Rhode Island.
This 1.6-mile path lies in the eastern portion of Coventry, from Station Street to Whitford Street, close to the West Warwick line. To the west, the new path connects to an existing 2.7-mile bike path built by the Town of Coventry in the late 1990s and runs from Station Street to the area of Town Farm Road. To the east, the new path connects to a 9.9-mile network of three paths built by RIDOT in the mid 2000s from Whitford Street to Cranston Street in Cranston, not far from the Providence line.
“This is a very significant piece because it fills in a missing link between two bikeways,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “Combined these paths provide a bona fide alternative to driving a car so people can bike or walk to school, work, or any other destination.”
The path was designed by the engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill of Providence and built by J.H. Lynch of Cumberland at a cost of $1.6 million.
Collectively, the individual bike paths – the Coventry Greenway, the West Warwick Greenway, the Warwick Bike Path and the Cranston Bike Path – are known as the Washington Secondary Bike Path. They all exist on the Washington Secondary rail corridor of the former Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad, which ceased most operations in 1968 with all freight service discontinued by 1985.
At 14.2 miles in length, the Washington Secondary is now only second to the East Bay Bike Path (14.5 miles long) for the title of the longest bike path in Rhode Island.
“The Coventry Greenway is a tremendous asset for our town,” Coventry Town Council President Raymond E. Spear said. “This new path builds on that asset and we look forward to future expansion in the coming years.”
RIDOT and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management are working collaboratively on design plans to extend the path further west along the abandoned rail line as far west as the Connecticut border. No firm dates for construction have been selected, but the goal is to extend the bikeway in two phases on a segment of the former rail corridor known as the Trestle Trail. The first phase, about 5 miles from Town Farm Road to Log Bridge Road, could begin in late 2011 or early 2012. The second phase, another 5 miles from Log Bridge Road to the Connecticut border, could begin in late 2012 or early 2013.
RIDOT also has under design another contract to make improvements on the original Coventry Greenway segment from Station Street to Town Farm Road, including the addition of an equestrian path adjacent to the existing bike path, a spur from the Coventry Public Library and Coventry Town Hall, fencing, signing, parking lots, and other amenities. A shade platform and a handicapped-accessible canoe launch are also planned for the bikeway near the intersection of Pilgrim Avenue and Laurel Avenue. The Department’s goal is to begin this project in mid 2011.
The new Coventry Greenway segment and the other paths that comprise the Washington Secondary Bike Path follow the route of the East Coast Greenway, a proposed 3,000-mile bike path from Maine to Florida. Rhode Island is a leader among East Coast states in getting its segments of the East Coast Greenway built. The East Coast Greenway will also follow the Blackstone River Bikeway as it travels north toward Massachusetts.
“The East Coast Greenway Alliance, spearheading development of a 3,000-mile trail connecting cities of the eastern seaboard, congratulates RIDOT and the Town of Coventry for completing the Coventry Greenway,” noted Eric Weis, Trail Program Coordinator and New England Trail Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance. “Completion of this path gives local users a great route to West Warwick, Warwick and Cranston, and as part of the East Coast Greenway, people can step onto the path and head in one direction to get to Providence, Boston, or Canada or head the other way to reach New York, Washington D.C., or Key West.”
Contact: Charles St. Martin (401) 222-1362 x. 4007