Op-Ed: What’s next for Newport Pell Bridge

by Rep Lauren Carson

The Newport Pell Bridge is a lifeline for all of us who call Aquidneck Island our home. So while the improvements currently being made to it and its approaches on our island will eventually bring about some welcome enhancements for our community, we need to be prepared for some traffic changes and delays over the next few months.

There are actually two concurrent projects that will affect traffic heading on and off the bridge this fall: The ongoing realignment of the bridge approaches being handled by the Department of Transportation (RIDOT), and work being done on the other end of the bridge by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA).

Drivers should be prepared for delays this season. In the coming days, RIDOT will begin painting three bridges along the ramps, including the Third Street bridge. This work will be done during the day, and will be completed this fall.

Meanwhile, RITBA’s work on the Jamestown end of the bridge is slated to start this week, and will require traffic to be reduced to a single lane in each direction for 900 feet. This work will include the demolition of the old toll plaza, and the lane restrictions are expected to last until April.

None of us loves sitting in traffic, and these delays will require all of us to build in more time whenever we head over the bridge. They will require our patience. Lane restrictions, too, shall pass, eventually leaving us with a safer, easier way to get to and from home.

Later this fall, drivers will experience one major new part of this work: The new ramp from the Newport Pell Bridge headed toward downtown Newport will open, and the old ramp will be closed. No date has been set yet, but this should give us all some reassurance that, despite the daily traffic frustrations we may experience, these projects are producing results.

There remain many questions about the effects of these major public works projects will have on the landscape around them. I’m actively working to ensure that RIDOT fully engages with our city’s excellent Tree and Open Space Commission to ensure that the landscaping plans meet their expectations. RIDOT has also assured me that every one of the 65,000 daffodils they had to dig up for this work will be replaced.

This work, and the inevitable related traffic delays, will affect us all. I’d like to urge all Newporters to keep up with the news so they can plan around it all. In particular, I recommend signing up for RIDOT’s weekly update email. The signup, as well as up-to-date information about the entire project, is available at dot.ri.gov/projects/pellbridgeramps.

I’d like to thank my fellow Newporters and all our business owners for all their patience during these projects. Traffic is frustrating for all of us, each of these projects is designed to reduce the time we spend in traffic once they are complete.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) can be reached at rep-carson@rilegislature.gov.




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