Editorial: Hands off the path cash

Posted 3/28/19

It doesn’t pay to take your eye off the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for even a moment, especially if you are among those holding out hope of ever seeing a bike path in Tiverton, …

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Editorial: Hands off the path cash

Posted

It doesn’t pay to take your eye off the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for even a moment, especially if you are among those holding out hope of ever seeing a bike path in Tiverton, Portsmouth, that link to Westport, or other places that seem forever wait-listed.

Late in January, the DOT issued something called “Major Amendment #11,” deep within whose 200-plus pages was a proposed one-third cut to bicycle and pedestrian projects in the Transportation Alternatives Program, part of the ten-year plan.

The money “scooped” from these projects would be used instead for road and bridge jobs, including the Route 6-10 Connector, for which funding already seems an issue despite rosy ‘on-time, on-budget forecasts. Public hearings were scheduled which few probably knew to attend.

That’s discouraging but familiar news for all those who have waited going on two decades for a safe place to ride and walk here.

Tiverton’s waterfront railroad right-of-way bike path to the Fall River line has always seemed just out of reach despite a long-ago DOT study that deemed it a first-rate location. That path is critical, too, because of its potential to join a South Coast path that is working its way from Fall River to the Cape. A whole generation of young would-be-path riders has missed out on the experience as delay follows delay.

Said the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition of this latest scheme, “We object, in the strongest possible terms … Funds in the Transportation Alternatives Program should not be raided for highway infrastructure projects or other priorities.”

“Pretty shocking,” added Bike Newport Executive Director Bari Freeman.

The department is to be commended for its aggressive campaign to make up for many years of road and bridge neglect (and for repaving the worn out East Bay Bike Path last year). Still, road and bridge work shouldn’t happen at the expense of the tiny proportion of spending devoted to alternative transportation.

And it’s one more reason that the administration should rein in its appetite for shiny new programs and new ways to spend large amounts of money that it doesn’t have.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.