Editorial: Wood Street won't help downtown Bristol, so who will?

Posted 7/26/19

The idea of a Wood Street extension was fun while it lasted, but the party didn’t last long.

Briefly considered as a way to mitigate the crippling effect of closing the Route 114 Silver …

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Editorial: Wood Street won't help downtown Bristol, so who will?

Posted

The idea of a Wood Street extension was fun while it lasted, but the party didn’t last long.

Briefly considered as a way to mitigate the crippling effect of closing the Route 114 Silver Creek Bridge for two months next summer, the “white whale” of a project, which has been talked about in Bristol for 40 years, offered a glimmer of hope.

If Wood Street extended all the way to Chestnut Street, cars and trucks that cannot navigate past DOT’s eight-week-long blockade of downtown Bristol could have a convenient and nearby detour into and out of the area. Let the celebration begin!

But now comes the prediction that it would cost $18 million — all of it paid for by the Town of Bristol — and the music scratches to a halt and the crowd stops dancing.

The Wood Street extension should remain part of the town’s long-term vision, as the gap between the town’s transportation needs and its inadequate system of roads and bridges has been chronically widening over the last 50 years.

But in the immediate future, the Silver Creek crisis still looms. Town leaders are resigned to make the best of a terrible situation, accepting the fact that the whole town — not just the downtown — will be crippled for weeks. It’s something a few signs and promotions can’t fix, and 25,000 residents should demand a better solution.

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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.