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January 18, 2018

Tyler’s Two Cents: Bypassing Broadway


Tyler’s Two Cents: Thoughts from Behind the Bar is a weekly lifestyle column, written by Tyler Bernadyn, that will appear every Tuesday on What’sUpNewp this summer.

Beginning this week, another cycle of construction and rearrangement will begin on Broadway.  At first when I read that a new traffic pattern was planned for the next few weeks and potentially months, rendering Broadway as a one-way exit out of the city, I thought it was a joke.  But this is no longer a laughing matter.

The new pattern will make Broadway a one-way northbound from Marlborough Street to Gould Street.  Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland, running parallel to Broadway, will become a one-way southbound from Equality Park to Marlborough Street.

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This traffic pattern deters visitors from traveling down Broadway and seeing all the neighborhood has to offer in terms of shops and restaurants.  Instead, visitors will be able to wave goodbye to the local businesses on their northbound exit out of Newport.  The City of Newport website has a response to the question of “why not make Broadway southbound?”, and it makes sense when you consider the connecting streets and traffic patterns.  However, creating a one-way on a popular street in the height of the summer makes no sense at all.  This is my column so I’m going to tell it how it is and say what we’re all thinking.

I understand that the Broadway Streetscape project is essential to the growth and development of the area but narrowing an already busy street to one lane and making it a one-way to work on ‘decorative crosswalks’ does not seem justified when you consider the economic impact that this will have.  “Extending the Destination” is the slogan for the project but the only things that this is extending are heartbreaks and headaches for business owners and locals alike.  I’m not an architect or contractor by any means, but I am a rational person and believe that this could wait until the Fall.  Why not focus on the projects that are still yet to be completed before taking on another?  Finish the stones and sidewalks, finish the installation of street furniture (except in Equality Park, don’t want to ruffle any North Broadway feathers!), plant the trees and manicure the spaces allotted for landscaped beds.  There’s so many projects that have already been started this summer but very few that have been completed.

This week, I took some time to talk with business owners in the Broadway area as well as residents to get their take on the situation.  Believe it or not, people are frustrated.  The best part of this area are the people that comprise it and their attitudes towards the construction have been overwhelmingly supportive and at times, appropriately sarcastic.  The Pan Handler’s “4th Annual Broadway Construction” sign gets a chuckle out of me each time I pass it.  The pictures of people hanging out on “4th Beach” when lower Broadway was all dug up will always warrant a smile.   When does a joke run it’s course?  Sure we can remain optimistic of the situation and approach it in jest, but the construction is just not funny anymore.

Timing is everything.  Mid-July is peak season for visitors and a perfect time to introduce them to all that the city has to offer.  I worry that the continuous construction and new traffic pattern will prevent a significant amount of visitors from smelling the smoked deliciousness coming from Binge BBQ or the bustling atmosphere that is Pour Judgement.  I worry that tourists will miss out on a sandwich from the new Broadway 66 Deli.  I lose sleep at night thinking that people will not see Fifth Element’s gorgeous flower boxes or Caleb&Broad’s new patio seating.  I wonder how people’s perception of Newport will change if they are not asked for a cigarette or gawked at by a Broadway all-star.  Well, maybe not the last point but you get the gist.

It almost seems regressive, that the city would put time and resources into a Broadway advertising campaign, only to undercut the relevancy with poorly timed construction.  What’s been accomplished so far is fantastic, the roads look great, the parking is almost back to normal, the sidewalks and new patio areas are allowing restaurants to gain more seating.  Why not leave it as is for the time being and revisit the ‘decorative crosswalks’ in the Fall when things slow down?

That would make too much sense I suppose…

{Editor’s Note: The views and/or opinions shared in editorials on www.whatsupnewp.com are those of the author and not necessarily those of What’sUpNewp management, our advertisers or our partners.}


Tyler Bernadyn

Tyler Bernadyn

Tyler Bernadyn is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.

Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.

Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.

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