Construction work to repair and improve the exterior passenger and pedestrian area at the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center is scheduled to begin within the next several weeks, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced today. RIPTA’s Board of Directors voted last week to award the construction contract to Tower Construction Corporation of Cranston, RI. The roughly $6 million project, which is being funded by a 90-percentfederal grant with a 10-percent match from the City of Newport, will repair the exterior area of the transit hub and visitor center on America’s Cup Avenue. T he project is also being supported by contributions from Bike Newport and Discover Newport.
The exterior of the facility, which originally consisted of sail-like canopies covering bus berths and pedestrian areas, was badly damaged in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy. Since then, with the help of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, RIPTA has pursued grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration under a program designated specifically for projects that will repair and improve the resiliency of transit facilities damaged by Sandy. The grant was awarded in two stages and over the past year, RIPTA has been working with the City of Newport and neighborhood groups on the design process.
Construction is slated to begin before the end of the year, and the goal is to have the work completed by June 2017, before the start of Newport’s summer tourist season, said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs for RIPTA. During construction, the
visitor center will be open for business. RIPTA buses and RIPTA bus stops will be temporarily relocated America’s Cup Avenue. Polichetti said that RIPTA is working with the City and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on road markings and signage for pedestrians and drivers. RIPTA will also be providing passengers and the public with more specific information on the temporary bus locations.
“Our goal is to cause the least amount of disruption to the City and our passengers,” Polichetti said. “We planned the project with construction taking place in the winter months so that Newport can start its 2017 summer season with a renovated transit hub to welcome visitors.”
The project will involve replacing the old canopy covering with a permanent roof that will provide better passenger protection and also be more resilient to future storms. The roofs will be two-tiered with glass dormers improving aesthetics and letting in natural light. Sidewalks and parking areas will be repaved and on-site drainage will be improved in order to comply with Newport’s progressive sewer codes. Much of this will be accomplished by adding landscaped areas or “rain gardens” which will be as attractive as they are practical. There will also be improved signage and lighting.
RIPTA officials will be attending an informational community forum on the project sponsored by The Alliance for Livable Newport (ALN). The forum will be held on Monday, November 28 at 6:30 pm in the lobby of the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center.
For more information on RIPTA services, please call 401-781-9400 or visit ripta.com.