What’s Wrong with Johnston?



What’s Wrong with Johnston?

Several bike related issues came up at yesterday’s Environment Council’s roundtable with RIDOT Director Mike Lewis.  One agenda item was an update on earmarks, special Federal funds that are paying for most of our state’s bike projects, but are threatened by the new Congress.

According to a December 2010 update, one of the largest remaining earmarks, $12.5 million is for the “Northwest Bike Trail” that currently ends in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Johnston, but could be extended at least to Route 44 in the Centerdale area.  However, Mr. Lewis indicated that he had received a letter from Johnston’s Mayor that the town did not want the project, even if they pay nothing to build or maintain it.

I hadn’t heard about this letter from any source before.  RIDOT indicated they weren’t giving up on the project but were concerned that if not undertaken, the money could be lost to another state, though perhaps it could somehow be reprogrammed for a different Rhode Island project.

We have the East and West Bay paths despite opposition do to local advocates (for example, George Redman, Ray Alexander) who worked to promote them.  Is there nobody in Johnston who cares?  What an opportunity is being lost.  The next town, Smithfield, has also been opposed to bicycle facilities. But I agree with RIDOT that they can not force it on the town.

Perhaps we need a “northwest RI bike summit” to try to save it if we can find anyone in Johnston and Smithfield interested.

North Kingstown and Jamestown are other towns that rejected bike facilities.

Other bike-related remaining earmarks that could be at risk include, in $ millions (as of 12/2010) Colt Park bike improvements: 2.5; Washington Secondary in Coventry: 15.65; 10-Mile River Greenway- Pawtucket- Ea Providence: $3.75; Blackstone Bikeway: 2.19; South County Bike Path: 1.6


  • MattyCiii
    Feb 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Johnston does not want the jobs to go to local area contractors. And if locals are not hired, whomever builds the path will buy their lunch, fill their commuter car gas tanks, and otherwise spend their money in Johnston.

    Let's face it, Johnston does not want an infusion of federal money. Let's hope the local news doesn't get wind of an RI town refusing federal money, that mayor would be facing some serious heat.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    Feb 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Sounds like the City of Johnston should be sued for not providing alternative means of transport choices to to its citizens – without even consulting anyone – very one-dimensional thinking – but not surprising from the land McMansions.

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  • Labann
    Feb 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Johnston, unlike Smithfield, is mostly bike-unfriendly. Johnston joins Newport and Providence as places in RI that need serious improvements to comply with ADA and FWHA guidelines, unless they'd prefer to be fined and sued for violations. Central Pike, some of which was recently repaved but still in bad shape overall, is about the only way to cross this dumpy, highway plagued, hilly monster. Just don't ask why anyone wants to go to the cold, cold hearts and waters of Scituate. Greenville Ave is okay from Northwest Trail to Smithfield, where nimbys worry about an influx of "foreigners" and racially diverse visitors.

    A few years back I contributed both an essay and money to Johnston Police to promote bike awareness. Made no difference whatever. There are some excellent, inexpensive opportunities for bike path extension into Centerdale and crossing of Woonasquatucket at Allendale on an existing bridge. But you'd need a mayoral candidate whose not a criminal to get elected.

  • Susan Marcus
    Feb 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Barry, I don't know anyone in Johnston or Smithfield but the Audubon Society has its headquarters in Smithfield. Have you contacted them?

    South Kingstown should let other communities know what a boon the bike trail has been here. I'll talk to Bob Votava. Maybe we can write something up.stresten 1917


  • Ibiketowork
    Apr 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    That's just sad….we don't want any darn bicycles in our town. How about the residents who would like to commute to work in Providence and NOT contribute to the logjam at the 6/10 connector? Any chance the pending Complete Streets legislation would influence their thinking? We really need to correct this!