Following yet another pedestrian-automobile collision on Newport’s Memorial Boulevard this morning, Rep. Lauren H. Carson is calling upon the Department of Transportation (DOT) to get to work on the planned redesign of the roadway immediately.
“The intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue is one of the busiest in the state, and tourists as well as the hundreds of senior citizens who live at Donovan Manor are put in danger every day when they need to cross the street,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport). “DOT has a plan, and they’re well aware of the problems here. But this plan has been in the works for two years, and here we are with no improvement and another person hurt. This can’t wait. Memorial Boulevard needs to be a top priority because so many people are at serious risk every single day, and there will be more victims unless this is fixed.”
For about two years, the section of Memorial Boulevard between Bellevue Avenue and First Beach has been slated for reconstruction by the DOT to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The area is home to Donovan Manor, a high-rise residence for seniors and disabled individuals. Residents there must cross busy Memorial Boulevard to access shopping at a large supermarket and a pharmacy. It can be so dangerous that one resident there recently told Representative Carson that she actually takes a cab just to cross the street because she feels so unsafe. It is also part of the downtown area frequented by tourists, both as pedestrians and drivers.
There have been numerous pedestrian and bicyclists hit along the stretch, including a fatal bicycle accident in 2012 and a senior citizen who was struck this morning.
Representative Carson has met with DOT officials about the plans at least four times in the last two years. She understands that the project is in the pipeline, but the repeated collisions and injuries and the vulnerability of both seniors and visitors who aren’t familiar with the traffic patterns should make this reconstruction a priority for the state, she said.
“I am urging DOT to move Memorial Boulevard to the top of its list. This job needs to be done now, not months or years from now, because the longer it waits, the more people get hurt,” she said.