“Better Communication” Demanded From DOT by State Rep on Pell Bridge Realignment Project
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
View larger +
Rhode Island State Representative Lauren H. Carson is urging Department of Transportation officials to “do a better job” of communicating with the public about day-to-day changes in traffic patterns.
Carson issued the call for action after major temporary changes to the traffic pattern around the Pell Newport Bridge began last week, creating what she said was a “traffic nightmare” for Aquidneck Islanders.
“DOT did a great job engaging with the community when this project was announced,” said Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport). “But since it started, they’ve done a terrible job keeping people informed. The new ramps that have been installed have caused widespread confusion, damage to already flood-prone local properties and made driving over the bridge a nightmare just before Christmas.
GET THE LATEST NEWS HERE — SIGN UP FOR FREE DAILY EBLAST GOLOCAL
The DOT did not respond to a request for comment regarding Carson’s criticism.
About the Project
As Carson noted, the project aims to reduce congestion and backup at the Pell Bridge, which serves as the main access point to Aquidneck Island, bringing drivers on Route 138 across Narragansett Bay from Jamestown to the city. It also aims to reduce traffic in the city centre; improving opportunities for bicycles, pedestrians and public transit; better connect the city center to the north for all road users; and promote economic development by creating an “Innovation Center”.
“Rebuilding the bridge approaches is Newport’s largest public works project in half a century, profoundly changing the way people get to and from our city, and the way we get around it,” Carson said. And while I am grateful to DOT for listening to people during the planning stages of this project, communication should not be shut down once the project begins.”
Among her requests for the DOT, Carson said she wants to see:
Ongoing and ongoing communication as the project progresses, including detailed explanations to Aquidneck Island of how the new ramps work
An in-person meeting between DOT officials and Islanders in February detailing exactly what residents can expect in 2023
“I understand it’s not DOT policy to write daily press releases about their projects, but this is not a bridge over a creek in a rural area,” Carson said. “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.”