Pictured above: Heavy-duty trucks running the red light on Admiral Kalbfus are a common occurrence.
UPDATED November 6, 2023
The City Council and Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) are advancing much-needed safety improvements on Admiral Kalbus Road in the wake of the fatal crash of October 11th that took the life of Kayla Watson . You can read the City County resolution and RIDOT response that reference a series of actions to be taken, including:
– Redirecting commercial vehicles away from Admiral Kalbfus Road;
– Installing “No Right on Red” signs on all sides of the intersection of Admiral Kalbfus Road and Hillside Avenue;
– Advancing a review to install a crossing light at the crosswalk on Admiral Kalbus at Sagamore Street;
– Installing a speed camera at the intersection of Admiral Kalbus Road and Hillside Avenue.
Additionally, Bike Newport will continue to advocate for additional safety measures on Admiral Kalbfus and similar road challenges citywide and islandwide. Please scroll down to see more information on these priority actions:
– Signs that bicycles may use pedestrian signals so that bicycles may navigate the intersection separate from cars and trucks. We are very pleased to see the first of these signs in Newport recently installed at the new lighted intersection at Admiral Kalbfus and Girard Avenue.
– Reduce the widest turning radii with bollards, paint, or a reconstructed sidewalk.
– Continue the separated shared use path from Girard to West Main Road.
– Investigate GPS technology that routes drivers away from low-sun situations.
– Determine ways to make exiting driveways safer for the residents of Admiral Kalbfus Road.
– Bring back “The Newport Wave” community road safety campaign to confirm that bicyclists and pedestrians are seen by vehicles.
ORIGINAL POST October 27, 2023
At the October 26th meeting of the Newport City Council, a resolution written by First Ward Councilor Angela McCalla was presented for consideration and approved unanimously by the full council. You can read the final approved resolution HERE.
Before reading the resolution, members of the Council recognized the family of Kayla Watson, who was killed while riding her bicycle on Admiral Kalbfus Road on October 11th, and expressed condolences.
The resolution provided for several specific measures to be taken by the City, including:
– Requesting the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to impose weight restrictions on commercial vehicles using Admiral Kalbfus Road and for further study on traffic calming measures;
– Requesting RIDOT to institute “No Right on Red” signs on all sides of the intersection of Admiral Kalbfus Road and Hillside Avenue;
– Requesting a traffic signal at the intersection of Admiral Kalbus at Sagamore Street;
– Requesting consideration by RIDOT or rerouting traffic to JT Connell Highway through GPS and other measures; and
– Directing the City to implement a speed camera at the intersection of Admiral Kalbus Road and Hillside Avenue.
The reading of the resolution was followed by invited response from the Newport Police Department, the Newport Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, and Bike Newport. These responses were followed by public comment, made by residents of Admiral Kalbfus Road and neighboring streets. While the five resolution requests were consistently supported, several additional steps were favored by the community, including: an extended protected bike path the full length of Admiral Kalbfus, bicycles may use pedestrian signals to safely navigate intersections, reduction of curb radius where too wide, investigating ways to address the sun glare, and improving community awareness of safe road sharing behaviors. All of these recommendations were included in Bike Newport’s response which was read in summary by Executive Director Bari Freeman, and submitted in full to the Council as follows here:
Report Presented to Newport City Council by Bike Newport:
Improving Road Safety on Admiral Kalbfus Road
Please note: These recommendations are prepared in collaboration with engineering colleagues through the “Ride Island” initiative. which includes preparing municipalities, residents, legislators, and nonprofits to have the data needed for informed discussions such as this one. You can learn more about Ride Island and see the Ride Island Bicycle Network Plan at www.rideisland.org.
We need to recognize that this fatality could have happened at any number of dangerous intersections in our City. Rather than be only reactive, we can start to eliminate the underlying conditions systematically through proactive practices – standardizing improvements beyond this specific location.
Admiral Kalbfus is a state road with entry and exit ramps for the largest suspension bridge in New England. We have a business district at one end, and a wholly residential stretch at the other. It is a primary east-west connector.
The intersection at Hillside Avenue is the only signaled crossing of Admiral Kalbfus for school children, churchgoers, visitors to Miantonomi Park, the Senior Center, the MET School, the Big Blue Bike Barn, the Traffic Garden, and more, let alone the thousands of residents who live there. Very well-documented for its many dangers, two weeks ago this busy intersection saw the fatal crash that took Kayla Watson’s life.
The resolution before you tonight is an excellent start. Please consider all of these recommendations and make use of the resources that will assist us to achieve them.
- Disallow and reroute construction trucks and other commercial vehicles over a certain weight away from Admiral Kalbfus and onto Connell Highway.
- Install traffic cameras. Well-proven to deter speeding and running of red lights, passive safety enforcement is our alternative to active policing when we don’t have enough police. Valid concerns about speed traps associated with these cameras are less relevant where high rates of dangerous traffic infractions are well documented.
- Add the missing signs to complete “no right on red” from all directions.
- We have a four-way stop during pedestrian signal crossing. Indicate with signs that bicycles can use pedestrian signals so that bicycles, too, may navigate the intersection separate from cars and trucks.
- Reduce the widest turning radii with bollards, paint, or a reconstructed sidewalk. A tighter turn reduces turning speeds, shortens the distance pedestrians must cross, and improves sight distance for everyone. See photos below.
- Place pedestrian-triggered stop lights at the Sagamore Street crosswalk.
- Continue the separated shared use path from Girard to West Main Road. Consider a “quick-build” version using the existing roadway, or one-way separated bike lanes. With multiple options – we can determine a best solution to put in place quickly. See sample solutions from the Ride Island Bike Network below.
- The often-blinding sun on this directly east-west corridor is a major factor. There are innovative technologies in play that include wireless smart advanced warnings that (quote) “obliterate the visual disturbance caused by glare”. We should be at the front of the line to test these systems. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095756416301465
- We must research ways to make exiting driveways safer for the residents of Admiral Kalbfus Road.
- “The Newport Wave” community road safety campaign successfully reminded pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists to confirm that they see one another with a friendly and intuitive wave – saving lives by doing so. “Do you see me?” “Yes, I see you.” Let’s bring back The Newport Wave. https://tinyurl.com/do-the-newport-wave
FUNDING AND OTHER SUPPORT:
There are numerous potential funding sources for all of these improvements.
- USDOT’s RAISE grants fund projects to improve road safety. Formerly called BUILD grants – this is the source of the funding that Senator Reed brought to us for the safe separated shared use path on Connell Highway. Our community may even qualify for the match exemption.
- Likewise, USDOT’s “Reconnecting Communities” grants provide funds to improve walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access, with an equity lens. Again, we may qualify for the match exemption.
- Newport (as well as Middletown, Portsmouth, and 28 other RI municipalities) will have a local Safety Action Plan (SAP) under the RIPTA statewide SAP. After that process is complete, the municipality or region could pursue SS4A implementation funding. This all assumes RIDOT cooperates with the process. Optimal timeline: Newport would have the SAP by Early 2025, with potential to apply for SS4A funding.
The “Ride Island” initiative can assist with information and support to apply for these funds. We all stand ready to do what is necessary to ensure that our residents and visitors can choose to walk and ride bikes safely and without fear, with confidence that the City takes steps to prioritize safety for all road users.
Finally, please note: In October of 2014, there was an urgent safety review at this same intersection – Bike Newport, the School Department, the School Committee, the BPAC, and the Police Department worked with DOT to manage a rapid safety response, which included an expedited safety study of the intersection. A comprehensive and rapid safety response was completed within a month of when the orders were placed. The work orders included striping, signs, and signals.
How to reduce the turn radius, with example:
Below: Sample shared use path and separated bike lane designs from Ride Island Bicycle Network Plan: