The Newport Secondary rail line runs along the north and west shores of Aquidneck Island, from the new Sakonnet River Bridge to Newport. For many years, AIPC and other community-based organizations have advocated for using the rail line as the Aquidneck Island Bikeway, a continuous 18-mile route through Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport.
PROGRESS AND IMPLEMENTATION
In 2011, AIPC published the bikeway plan in the Aquidneck Island Transportation Study, which was adopted by all three municipal councils.
In 2015, AIPC completed design work for a segment of the bikeway through the Melville area of Portsmouth. In 2016, at AIPC’s request, the State included this project in its Transportation Improvement Plan for 2024.
In the near term, AIPC is focusing on developing two segments, one at each end of the future Aquidneck Island Bikeway:
1. Mount Hope Bay Shoreline Trail: AIPC is proposing an off-road, multi-use trail along the north end of the old rail line from the new Sakonnet River Bridge, which has a separated bikeway, to the new waterfront park at Bristol Ferry in Portsmouth. This will provide public access and outdoor recreation along the shoreline of Mount Hope Bay.
2. The “First Mile” in Newport: At the opposite end of the rail line, AIPC is partnering with Bike Newport, the Newport Open Space Partnership, and other local organizations to advocate for the “First Mile” – a multi-use path connecting the North End of Newport with downtown. At AIPC’s request, the state included the First Mile in its Transportation Improvement Plan for 2021-4, allocating $7.2 million in funding.
Meanwhile, AIPC will continue to work with Island municipalities and the state to improve on-road safety for cyclists and pedestrians throughout Aquidneck Island.
ISLAND-WIDE BIKE PLAN
AIPC has proposed developing an Island-wide plan to improve safety and access for bicycles, pedestrians, and other forms of low-impact transport. We are currently seeking funding for this project.