On Thursday night, March 30, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will open a new intersection at the Pell Bridge Ramps Project that will reconnect two sections of JT Connell Highway that were bisected more than 50 years ago with the construction of the original ramp system. The new intersection is where JT Connell Highway meets the JT Connell Connector Road, which opened last year.
The new intersection will offer a more direct connection between Downtown Newport and the city’s North End, according to RIDOT.
RIDOT says in a press release that it will install additional pathfinding signage throughout the project area that will clearly show drivers how to reach major destinations such as Downtown Newport, the Navy Base, the Pell Bridge and West Main Road heading to Middletown and Portsmouth.
Traffic will be able to use the new intersection in the following ways:
- JT Connell Highway Northbound (Coming from Downtown Newport): Traffic will go straight through the new intersection toward the roundabout. From there, drivers can easily access the Navy Base, RK Shopping Center, Admiral Kalbfus Road or other roads in the North End heading toward Middletown. Drivers will still be able to turn right onto the JT Connector Road to access the Pell Bridge.
- JT Connell Highway Southbound (Coming from North End, Roundabout and Admiral Kalbfus Road): Drivers headed to Downtown Newport will use the roundabout and head south on JT Connell Highway and go straight through the new intersection toward Downtown. Traffic on Admiral Kalbfus Road coming from West Main Road, the Navy Base or North End will need to use Halsey Boulevard southbound to reach the Pell Bridge, as they do today.
RIDOT says that the opening of the new intersection is the first in a series of traffic pattern changes RIDOT is implementing this year, with the goal of making a number of improvements prior to the busy summer tourism season. They include:
- In mid-April, RIDOT expects to open a new, dedicated on-ramp from JT Connell Highway northbound and southbound to the Pell Bridge. This will eliminate the traffic signal now in use at the end of the JT Connell Connector Road. Traffic will have its own lane onto Route 138 West toward the bridge and will not have to stop or yield.
- By late April, RIDOT will conduct a weekend closure of Admiral Kalbfus Road at the former Route 138 overpass for demolition of this bridge.
- By Memorial Day, RIDOT will realign the intersection of Farewell Street and America’s Cup Avenue to eliminate the sharp curve at the start of America’s Cup Avenue which will improve safety and traffic circulation. In addition, the Department plans to activate a new traffic signal with pedestrian crossing features at the intersection.
RIDOT will announce the exact dates of the new ramp opening, bridge demolition and Farewell Street improvements well in advance.
The $74 million Pell Bridge Ramps Phase 2 project is rebuilding the road network connecting to the Pell Bridge to make travel into Newport easy and safe. It includes a new efficient ramp system that will 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.
Additional information about the project and the latest traffic pattern changes will be posted at www.ridot.net/PellBridgeRamps. The web page also has a form anyone can use to sign-up to receive regular project updates emailed directly to them.
All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.
The Pell Bridge Ramps Phase 2 Project is made possible by RhodeWorks, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act. RIDOT is committed to bringing Rhode Island’s infrastructure into a state of good repair while respecting the environment and striving to improve it. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.