Tina Dolen, executive director of the Aquidneck Island Planning commission sent this letter to the editor responding to what she characterizes as "inaccuracies" in other published LTEs about bike path changes to Portsmouth roads.
August 20, 2013
To the Editor,
AIPC is committed to providing accurate information to the public, and would like to respectfully correct inaccuracies in Mrs. Nancy Grieb’s recent letter to the editor and Mr. Thomas Grieb’s article on the Portsmouth Times website regarding the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission’s (AIPC) proposed Aquidneck Island Bikeway.
The AIPC Aquidneck Island Transportation Study (AITS) considered all forms of transportation, including motor vehicles, rail, transit, pedestrian and bicycle. Over 3000 public comments influenced the recommendations for transportation improvements on the Island. Based on the actual number of residents’ “votes” at numerous public workshops, the bikeway improvement ranked among the top ten recommendations for immediate implementation.
In Portsmouth the bicycle route will travel in differing layouts on Bristol Ferry Road, Old West Main Road, along Boyds Lane, Anthony Road, and Cory’s Lane. The Bikeway also includes a “rail-with-trail” path along the existing rail line from Cory’s Lane to Stringham Road to connect with the Burma Road bike lanes.
On Bristol Ferry the bike lanes will take advantage of RIDOT planned road diets; the bikeway project does not implement the road diet. Road diets are safety improvements identified through Federal Highway Administration’s safety audits to reduce accidents such as the recent Bristol Ferry head-on collisions and tragic fatality.
Concerns have been raised that the proposed Sakonnet River Bridge tolls will shift traffic to other Portsmouth roadways causing delays. A review of the anticipated traffic shift shows the projected traffic volumes along Bristol Ferry Road and West Main Road will remain lower than the thresholds that would render the road diets unfeasible.
The bikeway will provide a continuous designated bike facility from the Sakonnet River Bridge Bikepath to bike facilities along Burma Road in Middletown and the beaches on Memorial Boulevard in Newport. It will provide opportunities for exercise, visual access to Narragansett Bay, reduction of automobile traffic, commute-to-work routes and can serve as an economic attraction for Aquidneck Island and Rhode Island.
Thanks to a grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the AIPC will be completing a feasibility study to evaluate the bikeway impacts to determine if the plan is workable. A public involvement process will provide residents with an opportunity to review the plans, submit comments and have their questions answered. Before the project is accepted by RI Statewide Planning and RIDOT, and before advancing to construction, the study must be endorsed by the Town of Portsmouth Council.
The Aquidneck Island Bikeway is projected to cost approximately $3.5 million. It will be paid for with United States Department of Transportation funds and implemented through the Transportation Improvement Program of the RI Department of Transportation.
AIPC also is raising money for the bikeway through events such as the upcoming RITBA 4 Bridges Ride. AIPC is the beneficiary of that event.
We look forward to working with the residents of Portsmouth on this project and other recommendations in the AITS.
As always, AIPC welcomes your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-9399.
Aquidneck Island Planning Commission