Reconstruction addresses safety and congestion while providing new land for economic development
Governor Gina Raimondo, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Newport city officials, Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, and Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti Jr. today announced that they have agreed on initial plans to reconfigure the Pell Bridge ramps to provide quicker access to Newport town center and to relieve traffic backups on the bridge. The joint announcement was made at Gurney's Resort on Goat Island in Newport, RI.
Preliminary plans for the ramp reconstruction call for a complete removal of the viaduct infrastructure and the construction of four roundabouts that would move traffic seamlessly from the bridge into the downtown area and would reconnect city streets. This would not only provide a roadway network for future development but would also free up 34 acres of land for development.
"The best way to improve our business climate is to create better infrastructure," Governor Raimondo said. "Rhode Island is already on the move – companies like Johnson & Johnson, Cambridge Innovation Center and Wexford are moving to the I-195 land in Providence. By reconfiguring the Pell ramps, Newport can also free up land for economic development. I'm excited about the opportunity to bring more jobs and innovation to Rhode Island."
Reconstruction of the Newport-Pell Bridge Ramps has been needed for some time as the ramps were originally designed in the 1960s for a relocated Route 138 project which never came to fulfillment. RIDOT's 10-year transportation plan includes $40 million to reconstruct the ramps starting in 2019.
"This is a very exciting day for Newport. This project will transform the North End, improving traffic flow and making much smarter use of the acreage now dedicated to a long highway ramp," Senate President Paiva Weed said. "The new traffic pattern will reduce congestion during the busy summer months, and the land made available through the project will be a catalyst for job creation and development that truly ties all of Newport together."
"Through our RhodeWorks program, we are able to finally address the outdated bridges and traffic patterns at the Pell Bridge ramps," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "This project will not only achieve the goal of fixing bridges and improving safety, but also will utilize a design that frees up land for economic development in Newport."
"The bridge realignment is the linchpin in moving the City's vision forward which will benefit the residents of Newport and the State of Rhode Island," Newport City Manager Joseph Nicholson said. "We are excited about the future."
More than 40,000 vehicles per day go over the Newport-Pell Bridge and the ramps during peak summer season and when there are special events in Newport. Delays can extend to one quarter mile and have been known to extend to one mile during peak hours because of congestion on the ramps. The planned reconstruction of the ramps will address these congestion and economic development issues.
The total project area is approximately 50 acres, all of which is located in the Newport Resilience Innovation District. Tentative plans also include a bike path, a rail shuttle and a Park and Ride to capture vehicles and to move visitors in and out of the downtown area more efficiently.