As another busy summer season is getting underway, the City of Newport is formally kicking off its first comprehensive Transportation Master Plan.
Since the last study that dealt with transportation issues was undertaken for the City in 2001, there have been significant changes in population, development and the ways in which those who live, work and visit the City-by-the-Sea get around. With Newport’s tourism activity also increasing year-round, the need to improve connectivity between the City’s network of water transportation, roads, bike lanes and public transit opportunities has become even more pressing.
Leading the effort will be the City’s Planning Board and staff, along with City Council, Rhode Island Department of Administration’s Division of Statewide Planning, and a local Residents Advisory Committee.
Once complete, Newport’s Transportation Master Plan will provide City leaders with a comprehensive evaluation of existing transportation infrastructure along with identifying challenges and prioritizing solutions to make getting around town safer, greener, and more equitable.
The development of the plan was validated through a series of public engagement activities held in the fall of 2019 where residents and business interests identified the need to improve public transit, bike lanes, pedestrian access and to take advantage of improvements to the Newport Pell Bridge to improve vehicular circulation throughout the city.
The Newport Transportation Master Plan will build off of the recently adopted Rhode Island Long-Range Transportation Plan, which includes the State’s first-ever Bicycle Mobility and Transit Master Plans. The goal is to develop a plan for Newport and access points to Newport that promotes the use of all transportation modes, especially active transportation (bicycling and walking), transit and ridesharing, to reduce vehicular traffic during the peak summer tourism season. Vehicular circulation will be addressed in the plan as will parking availability and supply. The plan will benefit from continued public engagement that will hopefully coincide with the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. This engagement, including the availability of translation, will ensure compliance with mandated regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act, environmental regulations and guaranteeing equity in the distribution of the program’s elements.
Toole Design, an engineering, landscape architecture, urban design and planning consultant, was selected by an evaluation committee comprised of representatives from the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning, the City of Newport’s Planning Board and Planning and Public Services Departments, Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). Toole’s Boston Office will lead the work on Newport’s Transportation Master Plan, which is being funded from federal, state and local sources.
Development of the Transportation Master Plan will take approximately 18-months, with initial background analysis that began in April 2021.
The project team is hopeful in-person public engagement will be possible as early as this summer, with additional public engagement in summer 2022, public health permitting.
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