The Department of Transportation will need to coordinate with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to help small businesses that will be affected by RhodeWorks construction projects under a bill sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson that cleared the House today, Rhode Island’s Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau has announced.

The legislation (2017-H 5783A) is a response to the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Project in Newport, a $5.8 million project that has restricted parking, temporarily rendered a section of the busy road one-way and resulted in significantly less traffic to local businesses.

“Road and bridge improvements have obvious benefits for the community and for local businesses, but the effects during the actual construction can be brutal on a small business. Detours that route the public away from a business, lack of parking and pedestrian traffic, or congested traffic can all keep customers away and really hurt them,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) in a press release. “RhodeWorks means we have many major and minor projects in the pipeline all over Rhode Island. We know what’s coming and when, so there should be a coordinated effort to communicate with the business community, get feedback from business owners, identify ways to minimize disruption and enable businesses to make their own preparations.”

RhodeWorks, enacted last year, is a statewide initiative to repair more than 150 structurally deficient bridges and make repairs to another 500 bridges to prevent them from becoming deficient, bringing 90 percent of the state’s bridges into structural sufficiency by 2024.

Under the legislation, the DOT would be responsible for identifying the specific impacts of RhodeWorks projects on small businesses, such road and bridge closings, parking restrictions and traffic pattern changes, including the dates of proposed work, road closures or changes to traffic patterns or parking, and communicate that information to the Commerce Corporation with at least two months’ notice.

The Commerce Corporation would then be required to assist businesses affected by RhodeWorks projects by sharing the information with small businesses in the affected communities and neighborhoods, providing support to minimize the economic and financial impact during road and bridge construction, meeting with affected businesses to review business plans during construction and providing strategic and marketing assistance as necessary.

The legislation, which is sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), will now go to the Senate.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.