The Town of Middletown enters into an agreement with Newport and the state to help move improvements to the upper Aquidneck Avenue road, sidewalk and drainage project forward. If all goes according to schedule, work could start as soon as April 2022.
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UPPER AQUIDNECK AVENUE UPGRADES
MOVE ONE STEP CLOSER
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JULY 22, 2021) – Upper Aquidneck Avenue is in line for sweeping upgrades.
Recently, the Town Council signed off on an agreement with the state Department of Transportation and City of Newport for waterline work by Aquidneck and Park drives.
Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said the result of the arrangement was that roadway, sidewalk and stormwater work by the state is one step closer to coming to fruition.
“This is an important project for the Town,” Brown said. “I know there are a lot of people and businesses that are looking forward to the drainage work and road improvements, not to mention the sidewalks. This is going to make the upper part of Aquidneck Avenue much, much better.”
If all goes according to schedule, DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said work on the project could start as soon as April 2022. Importantly, St. Martin said Americans With Disabilities Act features will be added to the area along with the repaving, drainage and sidewalk work.
“The Rhode Island Department of Transportation follows a data-driven, asset management approach for all its projects,” St. Martin said. “This section of Aquidneck Avenue was included in the Department’s 10-year plan – a $6.5 billion program with more than 1,000 projects to rebuild Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure.”
For years, the council – led by Councilwoman M. Theresa Santos – has talked about the need to redo the stretch of road between East Main Road and Green End Avenue. The state recently paved a section of middle Aquidneck Avenue and there are plans in the works for lower Aquidneck to the Newport line.
Santos and others have expressed concerns about students from Gaudet Middle School – located at 1113 Aquidneck Ave. – walking to and from the building without sidewalks, saying more needed to be done to keep children safe.
Now as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen more people venture outdoors to walk and exercise, the need for sidewalks has grown.
Once completed, pedestrians will be able to walk uninterrupted from Aquidneck Avenue to Valley Road to West Main Road, Forest Avenue and a short segment of East Main Road, a loop of more than five miles.
The sidewalk project is part of a concerted effort by the Town to make the community more pedestrian friendly. Similar sidewalk work has taken place along Forest Avenue, East Main and West Main roads, Woolsey Road and the Commodore Perry Village neighborhood, among others.
As for the start date on the work, Town officials said the DOT hasn’t locked in a date for the upper Aquidneck Avenue project to begin.
Whenever that may be, Town officials said there’s much anticipation about the effort, which should improve the flow of traffic, eliminate drainage issues and make things better for pedestrians and bicyclists.
A major part of that will be to get rid of the drainage ditches along the road, which can create hazards for motorists, walkers and bicyclists alike.
“Upper Aquidneck Avenue has been identified by the Town as the top priority for sidewalk installation for several years,” Town Planner Ronald Wolanski said. “It is a densely developed business area, and also includes pedestrian traffic from middle school and high school students in the area.”