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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Rep. Carson takes her demands for better communication on Pell Bridge realignment project to DOT
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Lauren H. Carson today sent a letter to the Department of Transportation demanding concrete, significant improvements in communication about the Pell Bridge realignment project.
The letter, which Representative Carson personally delivered during a DOT information session for legislators on Capitol Hill this afternoon, requests that the DOT take several steps to improve communication about traffic changes related to the project.
“Clearly, the re-alignment of the Newport Bridge is a once-in-a-generation project affecting thousands of people daily,” she wrote in the letter. “To that end, I am requesting that we continue to work aggressively together on ensuring that the project is a complete success, and that we reduce the impact of the major inconveniences on the daily lives of the Rhode Islanders who live and work on Aquidneck Island.”
Major temporary changes to the traffic pattern around the Pell Newport Bridge began in December, snarling traffic in a bottleneck on the main route to and from Newport to the mainland.
Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) has praised the DOT’s communication ahead of the project, but said that community engagement and communication about day-to-day changes in the traffic patterns fell off once shovels hit the ground.
“The new ramps are causing confusion, and the existing signs are just not clear or plentiful enough. Drivers are accidently going over the bridge now, and that was a nightmare over the holidays. This is more than a little inconvenience – it’s a mess that needs to be addressed with care and with foresight to prevent similar situations as the project continues. I’m confident that DOT can improve this situation, and I’m asking that they turn their attention to this now and do it,” she said.
In the letter, Representative Carson requests that DOT hold a public meeting on a Monday evening in March to effectively communicate construction plans to the community ahead of the 2023 summer tourism season.
She also requested an immediate increase in signs directing traffic in the construction area.
Additionally, she asked for quarterly reports from DOT to the Newport City Council to ensure they are up-to-date and are able to engage in the ramp realignment project.
The project is intended to reduce congestion and backup on the Pell Bridge, which serves as the main point of entry to Aquidneck Island, bringing drivers on Route 138 across Narragansett Bay from Jamestown into the city. It is also intended to reduce traffic downtown; improve bicycle, pedestrian and public transit opportunities; better connect downtown to the North End for all road users; and spur economic development by creating an “Innovation Hub.”
“The reconstruction of the bridge approaches is the biggest public works project in Newport in a half-century, profoundly changing the way people get to and from our city as well as how we get around it,” said Representative Carson. “This is the longest suspension bridge in New England and an important artery that supplies 70,000 people with transportation, food and tourism. Communication is absolutely essential."
For more information, contact:
Legislative Press Bureau
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request