Officials from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), and the City of Newport joined U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Discover Newport for a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to officially celebrate the restoration and redesign of the exterior of the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center on America’s Cup Avenue.
The $6.6 million project – funded with primarily federal dollars — repaired heavy storm damage that the facility sustained in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. The project also provides safety upgrades and improved aesthetics to the exterior bus, passenger and pedestrian areas of the busy facility.
“We are pleased to welcome people back to a Transportation and Visitors Center that serves the needs of not only our customers, but also our neighbors, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who arrive here each year. The new design not only improves the facility’s resiliency to storm events, it also supports a myriad of transportation alternatives, from bikes and buses to taxis and tour buses,” said Amy Pettine, Interim RIPTA CEO. “We are grateful to our many partners for their support.”
The project was funded by a 90-percent federal grant with a 10-percent local match from the City of Newport, as well as an additional $20,000 from Discover Newport to support special features such as additional wayfinding signage and an attractive weathervane. Discover Newport, a long-term tenant of the Visitors Center, helps welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to Aquidneck Island every year. The Newport Transportation and Visitors Center is a major transit hub for RIPTA buses, interstate carriers and private tour companies. After Sandy hit, the exterior bus and passenger areas – which had once been covered with distinctive sail-like canopies – were left in tatters, and the site further deteriorated in the years that followed. Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation was instrumental in helping RIPTA secure federal funds that the Federal Transit Administration made available to repair transportation facilities damaged by Sandy and also make the facilities more resilient to future storms.
“The Newport Transportation and Visitors Center is a gateway to this iconic city for commuters and tourists alike. Hurricane Sandy did billions of dollars of damage to public transportation systems up and down the East Coast. In restoring this hub, RIPTA and its local partners have taken the long view. Thanks to the federal funding we were able to secure, they have incorporated resiliency measures that will minimize disruptions and damage from future storms. I commend RIPTA, the City of Newport, Discover Newport, and the Federal Transit Administration for their work in completing this project,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), who supported the establishment of a $3 billion competitive grant fund through the FTA’s Hurricane Sandy Resilience Program for public transportation resiliency projects in regions affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Construction work began at the end of 2016 and bus stops were temporarily moved to America’s Cup Avenue with the goal of having the buses return to the center before the height of the tourist season. Throughout the project, RIPTA has worked in concert with the City of Newport and also solicited input from residents.
New steel support columns were installed, failing asphalt pavement was replaced with long-lasting concrete, and bike-friendly features were added. Green infrastructure features like permeable pavers and rain gardens were installed to reduce the stormwater impacts in an eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing manner. The new bus and passenger area also includes improved safety features including illuminated crosswalks and upgraded signage.
“We appreciate that the Visitors Center exterior was repaired and restored to a state befitting its location in historic Newport, with all work completed while the building remained open and occupied,” said Newport Mayor Winthrop. “The City of Newport was happy to work with RIPTA to make a truly beautiful gateway to our coastal community.”
RIPTA in Newport
RIPTA makes exploring Newport a breeze. RIPTA provides trolley and bus service to attractions throughout Newport, including the mansions, Cliff Walk, beaches, Downtown Newport, the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center, and more. For more information on RIPTA services, visit RIPTA.com or call 401-781-9400.
Interested in visiting Newport? Visit DiscoverNewport.org for details.