Rhode Island plans to spend over $1.2 billion on surface transportation capital projects over the next four years. The plan to do this is called the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Program or TIP. It was developed over the last year with many opportunities for public comment and officially adopted by the State Planning Council in June 2012. The same month Congress finally approved a federal transportation bill which while maintaining overall current levels of funding, but reduced and combined funding available to non-motorized transportation programs and removed most mandates for bicycle and pedestrian programs, thus allowing states to discontinue funding those areas. For that reason the bill was a great disappointment to national bike advocacy groups.
However, in Rhode Island the TIP does call for spending almost $32 million on bike/pedestrian programs over the next four years, plus $6 million for the bike/ped bridge on the piers of the old I-195 in Providence and $8 million for ADA sidewalk projects. The bicycle path program will advance, notably thanks to a remaining nearly $10 million earmark for the West Bay Bike Path and equestrian trail in Coventry. Earmark funds are also available for most of a $3 million Colt State Park project that involves resurfacing park bike paths and a new connection to the East Bay Bike Path. The TIP also programs about $6.5 million for additions to the Blackstone Bikeway in Woonsocket (Division Street to Truman Drive) and in Providence (along a Bay Commission right-of-way off Gano Street )
Another $4 million is allocated to small projects extending the Warren Bike Path, building a bike/ped bridge connecting Warwick, East Greenwich over Maskerchugg creek near Godard Park, and extending the Ten Mile River Greenway. $130,000 is programmed for bike signage and reprinting the state bike map, and $2.4 million for the recreational trails program. The Safe Routes to School Program, whereby towns compete for projects to encourage walking or biking to schools, remains funded at about $1 million/year. Round 2 of this program includes projects in ten RI communities.
The TIP also has a category called “study and development” which is a list of eligible projects but no assurance of construction. Those projects listed as”high priority” are sidewalks on Masssoit Avenue in Barrington, a bike path connecting the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston and the South County path which as proposed by URI would be entirely on their property. The South County path extension that would complete the bike path from the Kingstown Station to the shoreline in Narragansett still faces uncertainty about its route. There are about $7.5 million in unprogrammed funds in the TIP that can be used for these projects.
What is not funded? This category includes the Blackstone Bikeway through central Woonsocket and Pawtucket, bike/ped access to the Jamestown bridge, a Tiverton Bike Path along the abandoned railway, any projects on Aquidneck Island, a Pawtuxet Riverwalk, and the Hope Spur in West Warwick. Extending the Woonasquatucket Bike Path in Johnston is not even in the TIP at all despite once having had a $10 million earmark.
All this is subject to amendments as things change. RIBIKE will continue to cover those changes and advocate as necessary for appropriate prioritization and programming.