Projects create 10+ new miles of bikeway, improve connections and safety across the network
PROVIDENCE - As part of continued efforts to grow Rhode Island's green economy, Governor Gina Raimondo, along with First Gentleman Andy Moffit and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), today announced the first wave of investments, totaling $10 million, to be funded by the $35 million Green Economy Bond passed last November. Ten bikeway projects around Rhode Island will create over 10 new miles of path and improve safety and connectivity across the state's bikeway network.
"We are fortunate to have a wealth of beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy in Rhode Island. And as Rhode Islanders, we know their value to our state – a point reinforced by the overwhelming voter support this Bond received," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "Improving our already impressive system of bikeways is a smart investment that will benefit our economy, communities, and families. Amenities like these are at the heart of what attracts people and businesses to locate here. Our goal is to get these projects underway and completed quickly, so we can continue to support our families, entice additional investment, and create jobs."
According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year – with bike facilities contributing $133 billion and supporting over one million jobs. In Rhode Island, outdoor recreation generates $2.4 billion annually in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs. There are more than 60 miles of bike path in Rhode Island, supporting the use of nearly two million people each year.
"Having safe, accessible places to get outdoors and get active is so important to the health of our communities and families," said First Gentleman Andy Moffit, who chaired the Green Economy Bond Honorary Committee and Rhode Island Outdoor Recreation Council. "We have an amazing network of bikeways across the state that my family, like many, enjoy regularly. But there is more investment needed to build on this asset and realize the full potential of outdoor recreation for our economy, health, and quality of life. I'm grateful to Rhode Islanders for recognizing this need and supporting the Green Economy Bond. And I look forward to celebrating the completion of these projects."
The projects to be funded include:
Blackstone River Bikeway, Segment 8C (Woonsocket, North Smithfield) Bond Funding: $1.4 Million | Project Estimate: $2.8 Million Included in the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), this project includes .6 miles of predominantly off-road path and construction of a river crossing and small stream bridge. It will be supported via bond and federal highway funds.
Blackstone River Bikeway, Segment 3B1 (Central Falls, Cumberland) Bond Funding: $1.1 Million | Project Estimate: $1.1 Million Includes one mile of a combined on- and off-road path from Pierce Park in Central Falls to Heritage Park in Cumberland, essentially completing the Central Falls segment of the bike path.
Blackstone River Bikeway, Segment 3A1 (Pawtucket) Bond Funding: $1.6 Million | Project Estimate: $1.6 Million Includes .75 miles of path from Pawtucket Town Landing to City Hall.
South County Bikeway – Segment 4A (Narragansett) Bond Funding: $750,000 | Project Estimate: $750,000 Includes .26 miles of path from Mumford Road to the Narragansett Community Center.
URI/South County Bikeway Connector (South Kingstown) Bond Funding: $2.2 Million | Project Estimate: $2.6 Million Includes 2.1 miles of path to create a new connection from Flagg Road to the South County Bike Path. The University of Rhode Island will partner in providing the remaining $400,000 estimated cost.
Urban Bike Route Markings, Amenities (Statewide in Urban Areas) Bond Funding: $300,000 | Project Estimate: $300,000 Includes pavement markings and signage for on-road bike routes along urban corridors and connecting existing bike paths.
Westerly Loop (Westerly) Bond Funding: $300,000 | Project Estimate: $330,000 Includes 2.25 miles of striping for on-road and on-shoulder bike route. The Town of Westerly will partner in funding the remaining $30,000 estimated cost.
Newport Secondary Rail – First Mile (Newport) Bond Funding: $1 Million | Project Estimate: $1 Million Includes 1.6 miles of shared-use path along Newport Secondary Rail corridor – from the Newport Gateway Visitors Center to the Community College of Rhode Island campus. This project represents the "first mile" of a larger Aquidneck Island Bike Path project.
Woonasquatucket/SanSouci Connector (Providence) Bond Funding: $550,000 | Project Estimate: $550,000 Includes .25 miles of on-road path and demonstration project to create a safer bike route from Broadway to the Woonasquatucket River in Olneyville Square.
Jamestown Bridge Ramps (Jamestown, North Kingstown) Bond Funding: $800,000 | Project Estimate: $800,000 Includes 1.2 miles of on-road striping to facilitate bike access on the bridge. This project will involve a broader effort to examine a bicycle crossing on the bridge – currently not allowed due to its designation as a limited access highway.
Together with community partners, the State selected projects for funding based on several factors, including project readiness and cost, priority as evidenced by the STIP submission, and connectivity between or extension of existing bike routes. Construction will begin as early as this summer – with completion of all projects anticipated within three years. Project estimates are preliminary, as many of these projects are in the early stages of design. Cost adjustments are possible as engineering and design work progresses.
"Our scenic bikeways are a treasure that add to the beauty and quality of recreating outdoors in Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "These features are also important commuter arteries – connecting our urban and social centers with the furthest reaches of our state, benefiting our environment, and creating a more attractive and inviting place for people to visit and locate. This bond investment will go a long way toward improving bikeways across the state, increasing safety for users, and creating new routes for people to explore and observe a diversity of wildlife and scenery – from our cities to our shores. Rhode Islanders have a long history of support for environmental bonds, and I am thrilled to see this funding being put to good use for our families and communities."
The 2016 Green Economy Bond will also fund improvements to other state and local recreational facilities; preservation of open space; stormwater mitigation; and cleanup of former industrial "brownfield" sites for redevelopment.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.