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Newport Gateway Center

NEWPORT GATEWAY CENTER

The purpose of the Newport Gateway Center Exterior Repair and Resiliency Project is to restore overhead protection for the hundreds of thousands of people who each year pass through the Newport Gateway intermodal transit and tourist facility on America’s Cup Avenue in Newport.  The project is also intended to make the structure more resilient to future storms.  For years, the facility featured a peaked canopy which was intended to replicate the nautical look of sails.  Most of that canopy was destroyed in October 2012 when much of Rhode Island’s southern coast was buffeted by Hurricane Sandy. The project will also ensure that the transportation center is fully accessible and in compliance with Federal ADA regulations.

1-9-17: Newport Gateway Center Temporary Bus Stop Map

UPDATE (December 2016) – Click Here

September 2016:

Latest Design Drafts of Gateway Center Released

RIPTA and the City of Newport release the latest design drafts for the project that will repair and improve the storm resiliency of the Newport Gateway Visitors Information and Transportation Center – one of RIPTA’s major transit hubs and a regional visitors’ center.

The facility, which is an epicenter for residents and tourists alike, sustained substantial exterior damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Since then, RIPTA has been awarded federal funding to not only repair the Gateway Center but also make it more resilient to future storms  While the federal funds will cover 90-percent of the roughly $6 million project, it would not be possible without the support of the City of Newport which is providing the 10-percent matching local funds.

In the months since funding was secured, RIPTA has been working with the city, community residents and its consultants to incorporate new soil and structural testing into the plans as well as feedback from the City Council’s Architectural Review Committee.  The transit authority is pleased to have Northeast Collaborative Architects, with offices in Newport, RI, leading a team that has the expertise to address federal, state and local interests in design specifics such as drainage, green infrastructure, sustainability, architectural detail and signage for passengers and visitors.

The design as drafted is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and includes raised roofline cupolas, pedestrian safety features, improved signage and a taxi waiting, and environmentally sustainable elements such as a “rain garden” to help collect storm water onsite and improve drainage.

Design elements may still be modified based on final bid prices.

The Gateway is a popular summer and fall attraction, so one of RIPTA’s goals is to not have construction during the 2016 tourist season.  The successful bidder for the construction contractor will be expected to complete the project by June 2017.  This schedule causes the least disruption and avoids the cost of construction phasing, but is subject to winter conditions.

RIPTA is grateful for the ongoing support and hands-on involvement of Mayor Napolitano and the City Council, its Architectural Review Committee, the City’s dedicated staff, State Representative Lauren Carson, and the team at Discover Newport.  The Authority is also very grateful for the continued support of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation which was instrumental in securing the federal funding.

UPDATE (May 2016):

Increased Federal Funds Help Fuel Expand Restoration Work At Newport Gateway Center

Background:

The exterior of the Gateway Center protects passengers entering or exiting RIPTA buses, Greyhound buses, taxis, charter bus services, and tour buses.  In addition, thousands of visitors park their cars and walk under the canopy to the visitor center daily, which is operated by long-term tenant Discover Newport.

Opened in 1988, the Gateway was already suffering from wear and tear when it was hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.  During the hurricane, the canopy “sails” were ripped by high winds and flood waters forced the temporary closure of the facility.  When the water receded, it became apparent that damage was also done to the sidewalks and paved parking areas.

Although the facility continues to be used, the damage suffered during the storm left the Gateway facility in poor condition.  Without the protection of overhead covering, the sidewalks continue to deteriorate and are pitted, cracked and crumbling.  The severe winter of 2015 exacerbated this problem.  Discover Newport, the local tenant, helped guide the design process so that the repair and restoration would move away from the original sail/canopy design which had not been universally popular with the community.

General Project Goals:  

  • Restore overhead  passenger protection
  • Reduce surface runoff from the site in order to minimize the impact on Newport’s sewer system and also to mitigate flooding in future storms
  • Bring the facility up to industry standards for an intermodal hub  –  including improvements in lighting, signage and other features that will make it easier for the public to make their transit connections
  • Respect the facility’s importance to the State’s tourism industry and its local impact by giving special attention to design and aesthetics

Funding: 

Congress made federal funds available through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to repair facilities damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  Stipulations include a requirement that repairs improve the resiliency of the facility to future storm events and meet or exceed the standard of the facility set prior to the storm.

RIPTA partnered with Discover Newport and the City of Newport to develop a grant application for improvements to the Gateway Center.   RIPTA worked with the FTA to ensure that they would fund passenger protection that would not simply replace existing shade “sails” but instead create new roofs that can withstand Category II hurricane winds.

The initial application was based on stand-alone pavilions, sidewalk improvements, and any upgrades needed to ensure ADA accessibility.  In the application, RIPTA addressed drainage issues by proposing permeable pavers as well as rain gardens as a way to retain some of the water generated during storm events.

Funding is 90% Federal Emergency Relief Funds.  A 10% match is being provided by the City of Newport.  RIPTA is the recipient of the Federal Funds and responsible for implementation of the project and appropriate management of federal requirements.  The agreement with the City and RIPTA states that the City will select a conceptual design.  RIPTA will then have 30 days to accept or reject the selection.

Progress to Date 

Fall 2014:  RIPTA used a Brooks Act Procurement process to contract for an architectural and engineering work.  Under this process, a selection team with representatives from the City of Newport, RIDOT, and RIPTA reviewed the bidders’ qualifications.  Six bidders vied for the work.  The selection team chose DHK, a firm out of Boston, MA, with direct experience in retrofitting historic transit stations. DHK (www.dhkinc.com)   will be working with a team of subcontractors with significant local track record. Work specified to include review of the site’s drainage, a structural review of the steel holding the existing canopy, architectural design of a new roof, ADA compliance review and development, and landscape design.

Spring 2015:  RIPTA and the City developed a Design Review Committee to review and comment on proposed design.

Positive developments:

  • Structural steel retains most of its integrity and was designed for a much higher load-bearing capacity than it holds with the canvas sails.  This will allow the reuse of most of the existing structure, saving energy and money.
  • There is plenty of room on site for new gardens that can help retain surface runoff on site.

Issues:

  • The original canvas canopy was not tied into a drainage system.  Any structure strong enough to stand up against hurricane force winds will require drains and Newport’s progressive sewer codes mean that as much water as possible needs to be retained on site.  Additional funds are needed to add drains and bio-retention on site.
  • The existing roadway has pooling and standing water after even minor storms.  To reduce the impact on the sewer system, the best practice is to regrade and repave the roadway, directing runoff to rain gardens on site.
  • The walkways have deteriorated significantly in the time since the original grant application.

July 2015: 

The Design Review Committee met to discuss priorities and options.  Six conceptual designs were presented.  During discussion, several priorities were established:

  • The old sail coverings completely protected passengers.  Stand alone pavilions at bus stops are not adequate.  Complete shade protection should be restored, and is more in keeping with the emphasis of the grant program on bringing the facility back to current standards.
  • Reduce the amount of permeable pavers as they are not particularly effective under a roof.
  • Wood surfaces, while attractive, are not compatible with the operating budget and surfaces should be sturdy and resistant to damage.
  • Rooftop glass may be difficult to clean, particularly with seagulls in the area.
  •  Graffiti can be removed more easily from brick than other surfaces.
  • Signage needs to be improved, including the installation of real-time signs to provide arrival and departure information for RIPTA passengers.
  • Lighting needs improvement.

Also in July, RIPTA approached the Federal Transit Administration regarding scope issues.  Staff indicated that there is a one-time opportunity to reallocate unused funds from the Emergency Relief Grant.  They asked RIPTA and the City to provide new, better-defined cost estimates.  If a commitment for local match is obtained they will consider the application.

The Design Review Committee considered the designs against the priorities above and asked for additional work on two of the designs.  They also asked for a third design with a more historically appropriate look.

August 2015 Update

The Newport City Council received a presentation on the project concepts. The Council expressed significant concern about the cost, scope and design of the project.   However, the Council was interested in pursuing the opportunity to fund costly structural problems (such as paving and sidewalks) with a 90-percent federal grant.

The Council decided to support the federal application by committing funds and also asked for additional opportunity to get local feedback on the conceptual design.

September 2015 Update

RIPTA is pursuing additional input into the conceptual design of the project by engaging with a variety of stakeholders.  The objective is to provide information to the public, obtain feedback, and move us towards a conceptual design that the City supports while reflecting the repair/resiliency limits of the grant program.  A public forum will be held on October 15 at the Newport Gateway at 6:30 PM. Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments to planning@ripta.com.

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