The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that during the week of December 12 that they will be changing the traffic patterns at the Pell Bridge Ramps project in Newport which will affect drivers on Route 138 West and Newport’s North End headed to the Pell Bridge and Downtown Newport.

The first change is expected to go into effect on Monday night, December 12. Travel lanes on Route 138 West will shift to the left to provide a safe work zone so RIDOT can continue bridge preservation activities on the bridges over JT Connell Highway, the Old Colony and Newport Railroad line and 3rd Street. This shift will be in place until summer 2023.

The next change is scheduled to go into effect on Thursday night, December 15 with the partial opening of a new connector road between JT Connell Highway and the new Route 138 extension that RIDOT opened in October.

Update – December 14: RIDOT today announced that the opening of the Connector Road for the Pell Bridge Ramps has been postponed to Sunday night, December 18 due to projected inclement weather.

According to RIDOT, traffic will use the new connector road and Route 138 extension in the following ways:

Route 138 West/Admiral Kalbfus Road: Traffic will turn left at the new traffic signal onto the Route 138 extension, just after the Newport Grand property. Drivers can stay straight for the Pell Bridge or turn right at a new signal onto the new connector road and follow it onto JT Connell Highway toward Downtown Newport.

Admiral Kalbfus Road Eastbound: Drivers headed east on Admiral Kalbfus Road coming from the Naval Station Newport, the RK Newport Town Center and nearby businesses, and the Newport roundabout will continue on Admiral Kalbfus Road past the old ramp to Route 138 West, turning right onto the new Route 138 extension toward Pell Bridge or Downtown Newport as described above.

JT Connell Highway Northbound: Traffic will turn right onto the new connector road and turn left at the new traffic signal toward Admiral Kalbfus Road or bear right onto Route 138 West toward the Pell Bridge.

According to RIDOT, the opening of the new connector road removes all traffic from the bridge that carried Route 138 over Admiral Kalbfus Road and ended at a traffic signal instead of continuing along a future road that was never built, giving it the nickname “road to nowhere.” RIDOT can now move forward with demolishing it while continuing construction on other portions of the project.

According to RIDOT, the $74 million Pell Bridge Ramps Phase 2 project will rebuild the road network connecting to the Pell Bridge to make travel into Newport easy and safe. It includes a new efficient ramp system to reduce congestion, especially the backup of vehicles on the bridge from the Downtown Newport exit, and improve the connection between Newport’s North End and the downtown area. With a smaller footprint, the new design also will spur economic development as it frees up approximately 25 acres of land. It will be finished by the end of 2024. More details about the project are available at

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and 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...