At 6:30pm on Thurs Sept 22 there will be a public hearing on a series of amendments to the 2012 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) one of which affects the Blackstone Bikeway.
In order to obligate earmark funds as soon as possible, RIDOT proposes using about $1.1 million of funds earmarked for the “Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor” for boat landings in Lincoln and Central Falls instead of for the Blackstone Bikeway and for a Blackstone Canal project to control flooding. The boat landings had been in the “enhancement” category, and the bikeway/canal projects would in turn be moved to enhancements in exchange.
While the boat landings may be worthy, it has to be of concern for a bike project, so dependent on earmarks, to be moved to “enhancements” which is a long list of projects that have only slowly been implemented, indeed there may be further delays for them because another part o the TIP amendment is to add a $4 million enhancement of a “gateway” landscaping project along the I-95 and 195 corridors sought by the Governor’s Office. Worse, some fear the Republican majority in the US House will eliminate enhancements altogether.
Also, a $2.19 million earmark remains for the Blackstone Bikeway, not sure if this would be at risk of recision. Completing the bikeway is supposed to cost about $31 million.
Other TIP amendments involve improvements to the railroad system, Matunick Beach Rd, and changing an enhancement in Westerly.
More info is on the Statewide Planning web site, or from me, Barry at 353-6536. I hope we will have a ribike spokesperson at the hearing to call attention to the desirability of completing the bikeway, especially to central Pawtucket and central Woonsocket.