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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Lauren H. Carson is urging her constituents to actively participate in the project to redesign the Claiborne Pell Bridge access ramps, now in the planning stages.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is currently accepting public comments the project’s draft environmental assessment, conducted in in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration.

“This project is probably the single biggest redevelopment projects on Aquidneck Island in the last 50 years. 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 our community. This has an impact on everyone in Newport, so I urge everyone to look at the plans and send the state their thoughts. Now is the time to make your opinion heard,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

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.” The state hopes to begin construction in spring 2020.

The assessment can be viewed online at www.pellbridge-ea.com, where there is also a link to submit comments electronically. RIDOT requests public comment on the draft environmental assessment be submitted by Dec. 23. Comments can also be submitted by mail to David W. Fish, Administrator of Project Management, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Two Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02903.

The complete proposal can be viewed in Newport at City Hall, 43 Broadway; the Newport Public Library, 300 Spring Street; and the Florence Gray Center, 1 York St.

“I am particularly urging business leaders to get involved, since changes in traffic patterns have a strong impact on small businesses. Every small business owner knows that changes in traffic, whether it means more or less vehicle traffic, changes in public parking or changes in pedestrian and bicyclist traffic, can affect the number of customers who walk through the door.  It’s critically important to local businesses and the state planners needs to hear from the owners of those businesses about the potential effects of the design,” said Representative Carson.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

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