Newport legislators Euer, Carson urge public to comment on Pell Bridge ramp redesign proposals

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Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Sen. Dawn Euer jointly released a press release on Friday encouraging all of their constituents to actively participate in the project to redesign the Pell Bridge access ramps, now in the planning stages.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is currently accepting public comments for the environmental assessment of the project, and the legislators are urging residents to check out the potential designs and submit comments either online or by mail.

There is a website devoted to the project, www.pellbridge-ea.com, where anyone learn about the project and its status, view the various proposed designs as well as presentations from previous public meetings, and submit comments via an online form. Written comments can be submitted by mail to:

RIDOT c/o VHB
1 Cedar Street, Suite 400
Providence, RI 02903

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RIDOT encourages the public to submit comments by Aug. 24.

“This project is probably the single biggest redevelopment projects on Aquidneck Island in the last 50 years. Whichever design is ultimately selected, it will significantly change the way people get around Newport and open up land for redevelopment. It will profoundly change the way drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists move around the community. This has an impact on everyone in Newport, so we urge everyone to look at the various plans and send the state their thoughts. Now is the time when you can make your opinion heard,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) in the release.

Both legislators also particularly urged business leaders to get involved, since changes in traffic patterns have a strong impact on small businesses.

“The state needs to hear from residents and small businesses about how each plan would affect them. Ultimately, the best plan will be the one that best makes use of smart design principles. Making it safer to walk and bike will get people out of their cars, those cars off the road, and put people into close contact with small businesses and ease traffic congestion for year-round residents,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) in the press release. “It’s critically important to local businesses that the design is sensitive to the impact on them, so the state needs to hear from them about the potential effects of each design.”

The project is intended to reduce congestion and backup on the Pell Bridge, which serves as the main point of entry to Newport, bringing drivers on Route 138 across Narragansett Bay from Jamestown into the city. It is also intended to reduce traffic downtown; improve bicycle, pedestrian and public transit opportunities; better connect downtown to the North End for all road users; and spur economic development by creating an “Innovation Hub.”

Currently, the project is in the early planning stages, assembling information for an environmental assessment and collecting public comment on the proposals. The environmental assessment is scheduled for completion next summer, with final design to follow. The state hopes to begin construction in 2020.

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