Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) received $1,602,000 in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding to help cover costs of rebuilding and strengthening infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
RIPTA will use the funds to improve passenger protection and reduce flooding at the Newport Gateway Center, one of the agency’s major transit hubs. The facility’s tent-like sails, which were designed to protect riders from sun and rain, were severely damaged by the superstorm in October 2012.
RIPTA is partnering on this project with the City of Newport and the facility’s long-term tenant, Discover Newport. The tourism agency has already contributed conceptual drawings to the project at their own cost, in an attempt to facilitate design changes for a hurricane and flood resistant construction. RIPTA, Discover Newport, and the City of Newport will work with local partners to form a design review committee that will be used to provide feedback during the design process while keeping the community’s goals in mind.
The project has two components. First, funds will be used to replace the current passenger protection with pavilions that can withstand hurricane-force winds. Second, the project includes the cost of replacing concrete passenger waiting areas with permeable pavers and landscaping, reducing the impermeable surface by 50%; this will reduce storm water runoff volumes and also improve water quality.
As demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy, restoring sewers and water can be the most costly and time-consuming part of getting back to business after a storm. The City of Newport has committed to provide the 10% match, or $178,000, for the entire project.
The Newport Gateway Center is an intermodal facility that houses the Newport Visitor's Center, customer parking, bus berths, bicycle facilities, and taxi stands. The bus berths are used by RIPTA, intercity carriers such as Peter Pan, tourist trolleys, and cruise ship shuttles connecting cruise passengers to the visitor center.
Historically, Newport Gateway was the location of the train depot, and it is located adjacent to the community's rail line (currently only operating for local tourism). It is within walking distance of Newport harbor’s many sailing vessels.