2019 Update

As of the end of September, the upgrade to the railroad between the Walnut Street bridge abutment and the depot on Americas Cup Avenue has been completed. The project consisted of replacing the East track and removing the West track.

Effect on the Newport Pell Bridge Realignment:

Here was my response on a local blog to a person who is concerned that this recently completed railroad project would have a negative effect on the Newport Pell Bridge realignment project:

  • There does not appear that the upgrade of this section of the railway will have any effect on the main section of the Newport Pell Bridge realignment.
  • Here is the RIDOT documentation: Newport Bridge Realignment project
  • A single track runs under the Van Zandt Avenue and Newport Pell bridges to the west of the area of the realignment.
  • Each option includes a goal to, “Enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity with construction of a shared-use path between North End and downtown.

Effect on the proposed "First Mile Shared Use Path":

Although this upgrade to the track it is a great improvement, it begs the question as to the design of the proposed First Mile Bike Path".

Although I have heard that this Bike Path has been funded, I have never seen a design.

The question is, unless the rest of the west track is removed between the new switch and the switch just north of the Van Zandt Avenue bridge, where would the path be located?

The current issues:

  • The railroad project included the installation of a switch just north of the Walnut Street Bridge Abutment.
  • That switch presumes that the railroad plans to continue using that part of the west track which runs from that point to just north of the Van Zandt Avenue Bridge.
  • That would preclude using that corridor for a shared use path.

Suggestions for consideration:

  • The bridge realignment project could be enhanced by installing a double track to the north of the Newport Bridge.
  • That new track, which would be installed to the East of the current single track, would serve as a loading station for those who plan to park in the proposed parking lots.
  • It would also could be used as a railroad siding.
  • This should eliminate the railroad's need for use of the remaining west track as a siding.
  • An advantage to the railroad operator is that this new siding would have direct access to the railroad equipment for the use of loading and repairing the equipment.
  • It would also enable the railroad operator to use that depot for north bound runs.
  • It would enable tourists and others take a shuttle train to and from the existing downtown depot.

Providing a corridor for the Shared Use Path:

  • Following this design would allow a shared-use path to be built along what is currently the west track from the depot to Admiral Kalbfus Road.
  • It could also be directly and safely accessed from Hunter Park, the proposed new road to Third Street, and Admiral Kalbfus Road.