City officials have been gathering comment on a proposal to seasonally remove some on-street parking and close some streets in parts of the city to accommodate pedestrians.
This is part of an ongoing effort to survey public opinion on multiple transportation issues, including the possibility of establishing pedestrian priority zones in denser areas of Newport.
“Some people pushed back on that, but some people are totally fine if it’s supported by frequent traffic service,” said Trish Reynolds, Newport’s planning director. “Part of the strategy, because we would like people to get out of their cars, is a whole series of recommendations to improve parking.”
The so-called traffic service would be a city-sponsored free shuttle with a seasonal route.
“There hasn’t been a single person opposed to the idea of a free public shuttle,” said Planning Board secretary Melissa Pattavina. “I think people would use it. We have even heard this from our tourist population.
“You can go up and down,” Reynolds said. “It would be something that you wouldn’t depend on RIPTA for, and the city would have control over.”
The city hopes to address transportation issues along some of Newport’s busiest and narrowest corridors, including lack of parking and alternative transportation options, traffic issues, vehicles hitting pedestrians and d other complications. The idea was put forward after the city released a 211-page existing conditions report, which outlined publicly identified transportation issues in Newport.
The city, in new informational posters, describes pedestrian priority areas as “clusters of projects that will improve accessibility, pedestrian safety and pedestrian enjoyment.”
The proposal includes replacing seasonal on-street parking on Thames Street with a “flexible parking/loading/sidewalk zone,” seasonal vehicle closures from lower Broadway and Thames Street north of Memorial Boulevard, making it easier to get around of pedestrians and ensuring accessibility in the Touro Street, Mill Street and Thames Street area by widening the pavements and improving accessibility in the narrower streets.
“Pedestrian Priority Zones have been extremely well received, especially by older people,” Pattavina said. “We’re talking about increasing accessibility on sidewalks, so seniors are really getting into it.”
Reynolds and Pattavina said the response elicited more positive comments than those showing concern or pushback.
“I am extremely surprised and relieved that residents are in complete agreement with many of these recommendations,” Pattavina said.
“We certainly have a lot of people who don’t feel convinced that some of our ideas for the app, the parking app in particular, are realistic,” she added. “These are usually people who think our app isn’t great already, so they have a hard time coming up with new ideas.”
Other ideas for pedestrian priority zones include reconfiguring signage and timing on Bellevue Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, increasing pedestrian accessibility south of Memorial Boulevard, reducing volume and vehicle speeds, ensuring that future multi-modal trails connect to neighborhoods and make crossing Poplar and Elm easier. streets.
The solicitation of public input on city-wide transportation issues is in preparation for the release of the next transportation master plan, which will detail the city’s transportation vision and the steps to achieve these goals over a period of time. 10 year period.
Currently, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation is in the final stages of a project that will redefine the way people traveling to the Pell Bridge approach and exit Newport, which includes the construction of a large public parking lot and the introduction of wide, multi-use pathways along America’s Cup Avenue and other city entrances; factors that will be considered as the city charts its course into the future.
The existing conditions report was released after the city interviewed experts, including elected officials and city staff, solicited public comment, consulted with professional firms, and analyzed local transportation data, such as parking surveys, the number of parking tickets distributed each year and the busiest times of the year for city driving, among other components. The report will serve as a reference for the transportation master plan, which is expected to be released in early fall.
“We are now at the stage where we need to come up with ideas on how to respond to the data presented in the previous report,” Pattavina said. “We went to the public last month to ask, ‘What do you think? “”
In addition to online surveys, written correspondence and testimonials at public meetings, the city’s planning department and other organizations involved in the transport master plan, including Keep Newport Moving and Bike Newport, have organized pop-up briefings where experts set up a booth to display information posters detailing some of the proposals, as well as to disseminate information about the ideas submitted for consideration. In the first two weeks of the campaign, the city received more than 100 responses online and more than 100 interactions at in-person events, according to Pattavina. The last of the pop-up sessions took place on June 15 at the Edward King House.
Some of the other proposals include discounted senior parking and 15 minute parking in certain areas, such as churches, and allowing public use of their car parks when not in use, electronic notification of the number of spaces parking spaces available in a given area at any given time. given time, designated loading and unloading spaces and establishing dedicated delivery times.
The city will consider comments received and consult with experts before releasing the finalized transportation master plan. The hope, Reynolds said, is to incorporate the plan and recommendations into the city’s comprehensive land use map, much like the recent northern urban revitalization plan.
“It’s so that the plan is real, fundamental and has teeth,” Pattavina said. “It’s a big thing that comes up in every awareness session or meeting, the general question of how are we going to make sure that this plan is actually followed and where are we going to find the money to fund some of these projects. “
The transport master plan should go through the approval of the Planning Council before being submitted to the city council for a final vote. Public hearings on the plan will be held by the two bodies as they deliberate on the document.