Newport bridge work a ‘short sacrifice’ for ‘long-term solution’

Newport bridge work a ‘short sacrifice’ for ‘long-term solution’


NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Kellie Cooper is tired of the bumper-to-bumper traffic each morning outside of her Newport café.


“Nobody can park, no one can pull up,” Cooper said. “We’ve had to close many times. I’ve had to cancel reservations for people who have booked six months in advance.”

The traffic is a combination of congestion coming from the nearby Newport Pell Bridge, which has been under construction for years now, and additional separate road work outside of her business.

Cooper said the large construction equipment outside of her storefront has become a regular sight for her customers.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) confirmed that the construction outside the business is part of an ongoing effort to rebuild the road network that connects to the bridge. RIDOT is in the process of creating a new efficient ramp system designed to reduce congestion and improve the connection between Newport’s North End and downtown.

The $74 million project is slated to be completed later this year.

That’s not the only construction happening in the area, however. Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Executive Director Lori Caron Silveira explained that adjustments being made to the bridge itself will make it easier for drivers to cross the bridge without having to stop or slow down.

“This road was designed for traffic that was coming to a halt,” she said. “Drivers were coming down to 0 mph to pay a toll … We now need the road redesigned to accommodate traffic that’s going the speed limit.”

The Newport Pell Bridge switched to all-electronic tolling a few years ago. Caron Silveira urged commuters to be patient and to think of the traffic as a “short sacrifice” for a “long-term solution.”

“There have been some days that are tough days, we are aware of it,” she said. “We don’t always know why.”

Cooper said traffic is usually the worst on weekdays during the morning commute. That’s because the bridge work only happens during the week.

She’s urging everyone to visit Newport sometime this summer when there’s no construction or traffic backups.

“Come to Newport over the weekend,” Cooper said. “This time of year is lovely and there’s no traffic going over the bridge.”