Regarding the Pell Bridge Ramp Realignment Designs
The following notes were shared by Bike Newport to RI Department of Transportation as part of the community review process.
These notes reflect input discussed and gathered at numerous community reviews, including Newport Health Equity Zone, North End Neighborhood Association, Bike Newport Board of Directors, Newport Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, and other Bike Newport community gatherings.
The following notes should be taken into consideration as we continue to improve/refine the plan for the ramp realignment and surrounding areas within the project limits.
PLANNING FOR BICYCLES AND PEDESTRIANS:
The plan needs to address motorized traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians together from the first stages of design. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodation are referenced as primary but are not reflected in the designs. The designs represent motor traffic and promise bike and pedestrian accommodation later. It shouldn’t be assumed that the location of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will be added on or even adjacent to the road. We should consider the entire project area to determine what spaces will accommodate all modes safely and comfortably. Additionally, the connections to city sidewalks, parks, and paths just beyond the project limits should be addressed to ensure connectivity.
- Please have a look at this workshop report from Lynn, Massachusetts. This level of consideration should inform the roadway design. Some of the most relevant pages address: households with no car; pedestrian and bicycle facilities and facility designs; and what facilities might work in their project area. We do not have to hold for the design stage to introduce the facilities that the project managers are already considering. Now is the time.
- Traffic volume reports are vital to understanding the recommendations, but the reports provided are difficult to interpret and lack context. When were the traffic volumes recorded? What day of the week, and what season of year? We want to make our plans in the best interest of resident livability when we are adjacent to residential areas.
- Along with traffic volume, we need to consider existing levels of comfort for bicyclists and pedestrians, along with projected demand based on points of interest. The studies should be addressing all road users, their safety, flow, destinations, and improved accommodation from the outset. Additionally, the final plan has to recognize the important corridors and intersections outside and adjacent to the project area.
- The plan should advance the goals of the Newport Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Open Space Plan. These alignments with these City plans should be sought, noted, and shared.
- The plan should be made with intentional attention to the long-term future – thinking 30, 40, 50 years out – considering known and projected weather, transportation modes, traffic patterns, and development.
- Gather a Project Advisory Board to continue to represent/oversee as plans move forward – and to keep it moving forward. Nothing need delay or derail the project. This Advisory Group can assist with assembling the list of recommendations according to existing plans – STIP, LRTP, Bike Mobility Plan, Open Space Plan, Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
- Solicit information from other entities with relevant plans in the vicinity. This recommendation goes beyond listening sessions, it is the active collecting and consideration of planning that is relevant in terms of location, traffic flow, pedestrian and bicycle activity, residential and commercial development and more, and includes these offices/agencies and more: Newport Office of Civic Investment, RIPTA, the Navy, City of Newport Public Services (re other road projects), Bike Newport, City Parks, Aquidneck Land Trust, Newport HEZ, RK Properties, Carpionato Group, Discover Newport, Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad, Newport Housing Authority, Trinity Management, and others.
- This project is our opportunity to demonstrate innovative creative contemporary planning and forward thinking – let’s make it the best it can be and a model for the island, the state, the region!
SPECIFIC DESIGN ELEMENTS
Roundabouts, side paths, and other infrastructure elements that support vulnerable road users can now be based on contemporary best practice facilities in place in other cities, as in the workshop report from Lynn Massachusetts referenced above. A road trip by the project managers, consultants, and primary stakeholders to experience these designs first hand would enhance the expertise to make the best recommendations for our conditions.
- The 200-space parking lot is not sufficient to accommodate drivers who shift to other transportation modes into the city. By comparison the three parking lots at the Steamship Authority in Falmouth accommodate a total of 5500 cars for people leaving their cars behind headed to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The design studies should recognize/reference the different mode shifts that are being considered along with some predictions of usage. What modes are in the works? Bike Share, People Movers, City Shuttles. Where is that vision expressed?
- The road originally planned to run north between Festival Field Apartments and the RK Newport Shopping Center is a potential method for channeling a high volume of outbound traffic out of town efficiently, without using Admiral Kalbfus or the rotary, and bypassing both the Point and the North Side neighborhoods. This option needs to be considered and addressed.
- Traffic should be diverted away from neighborhoods. High volume traffic should be directed onto Connell Highway and potentially onto the road referenced in (2) above. Plans should include calm and comfortable connections and passages into/ out of the neighborhoods.
- The intersection of Malbone Road, Girard Avenue, and Admiral Kalbfus Road represents the eastern limit of the project area and requires very focused attention for vulnerable road user passage. This intersection is currently one of the most dangerous in the city while also a site of concentrated vulnerable road user activity. It represents the nexus of neighborhoods, schools, businesses, residences, and Miantonomi Park – and it is also part of the direct connect between the First Mile Bikeway and the North Side neighborhoods.
- Extend the project area east to West Main Road in order to provide the necessary traffic calming and pedestrian-safe measures along Admiral Kalbfus Road in consideration of the adjacent neighborhoods, residences, park activity, and safe routes to schools.
- Any rotary must be designed as a modern roundabout with bicycles and pedestrians safely accommodated on a separated outer rim.
- All bicycle connections on roads of 25mph or higher must be separated/buffered/protected.
The board, staff, and participants of Bike Newport, thank RIDOT for the attention given to community input. We hope these notes are helpful and confirming. We look forward to continued and timely progress on this critical and promising project.