My philosophy is that Newport wasn’t originally designed for the automobile traffic we see today, and we should honor our history. We should implement plans which de-emphasize reliance on single-occupancy vehicles. We should take a hard look at the expectations underlying convenient street parking and ask if there are better alternatives. I enjoy reading Jeff Speck, who promotes walkable cities.
I was responsible for the resolution to commission a Master Transportation Plan last September, which passed 7-0. The Request for Proposals was prepared by the Planning Department after vetting the issues with representatives from a wide range of community organizations including the HEZ Transportation Group, the Hill Association, the Point Association, Discover Newport, the Preservation Society, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Cliff Walk Commission, and the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission.
I will work to ensure that the Master Transportation Plan benefits from widespread community input and takes a fresh look at all the issues that contribute to Newport’s transportation problems. My own input to the process would include these ideas:
• Genuinely user-friendly, affordable, convenient and attractive public transportation, addressing both tourists’ needs and the needs of residents of the city who want public transportation to get downtown;
• Alternative transportation avenues for bicycles and pedestrians that will lure people to shopping and recreation;
• Public parking so that tourist traffic to Newport can be rerouted and when tourists leave their cars they will enjoy using public transport to get around;
• The possibility of weekly or monthly parking for residents who don’t need their cars on a daily basis, in an effort to free up parking space on our streets; and
• All proposals must recognize and address our need for resiliency in the face of sea level rise and storm surges.
I’m glad that our revitalized Planning Department is more than capable of guiding the implementation of a master plan. The time is right and the community is ready to move forward to address these problems, particularly as the Pell Bridge Ramp redesign is fleshed out and we see more detail in that proposal.