What can we do about all this traffic clogging our streets? Why don’t we have more bus trips to where I need to go? OK, we’re fixing the bridges, now how about those potholes! When will getting around the island by bike be made easier and safer? What could happen with Burma Road? Will I ever be able to take a train to Boston? How about a ferry to Warwick or Quonset?

Those questions and many more are gist for a State Transportation Planning Workshop that is set for Newport’s Edward King House on January 31st at 6:30 PM.

Statewide Planning is drafting an entirely new long-range transportation plan for Rhode Island, and a Statewide Bicycle Master Plan to go along with it, and its planners want the ideas, visions, and goals of Aquidneck Islanders to help shape those plans.

AIPC has long had a focus on improving the Island’s transportation system and options. Our 2011 Aquidneck Island Transportation Study laid out goals and recommendations for improving the highway system, expanding transit services, and advancing alternatives like bicycle and pedestrian travel. Many of the ideas from that plan have been put in place over the ensuing seven years, but others await future federal and state funding or other impetus to advance.

The Statewide Planning workshop is part of a series designed to engage citizens throughout Rhode Island and get their ideas for the new plans. An initial series of workshops, including one in Bristol in September, sought basic input on how Rhode Islanders used the transportation system and what problems they saw with it. This second phase of workshops will seek the public’s ideas about the future… to help state planners craft visions and goals for the new plans. See more about the State’s planning process on the Moving RI Forward 2040 webpage.

So, if you have an idea for a bullet train along the west side rail line, want to see West Main Road traffic flow better and safer, or just want to be able to walk to the corner store without risking your life on a road without sidewalks… mark your calendar and come let the State’s planners know what about transportation is most important to you and our Island. These opportunities don’t come along very often; and, while there’s no promise that Aquidneck Island’s priorities will get into the State’s new plans – like they say about the lottery: if you don’t play, you can’t win!

–George W. Johnson, Consulting Senior Planner, AIPC