Grow Smart RI honors URI for its Transportation & Parking Master Plan

University receives Rhode Island Smart Growth Award

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |
Rhody Transportation shuttle
The Rhody Transportation shuttles got high marks from students when they rolled out last August, and they are part of URI’s award-winning Transportation & Parking Master Plan, which recently earned a Rhode Island Smart Growth Award. Photo by Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 21, 2019 — Grow Smart RI has named the University of Rhode Island one of its seven Rhode Island Smart Growth Award winners for 2019.

Ceremonies for the eighth annual awards program held late last month in Providence attracted hundreds of business, civic and elected leaders, development and real estate professionals, architects, builders, policy advocates and community stakeholders from across Rhode Island.

Grow Smart RI honored the University for its Transportation & Parking Master Plan. The project team members recognized during the ceremony were the URI Transportation & Parking Master Plan Steering Committee, parking consultant Desman Associates, Town of South Kingstown, Traverse Landscape Architects and VHB, an engineering and design firm. The University also received congratulatory citations from U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien.

“I am deeply grateful to our team and so many URI administrators and staff who helped bring this plan to fruition,” said Abigail Rider, URI vice president for Administration and Finance. “I believe we were selected because we are being strategic and intentional with our overall development and individual projects, particularly as they relate to transportation and parking and their critical connections to sustainability.

“I believe our work on the master plan and many other initiatives with municipal, state and commercial partners is a model that will influence the way Rhode Islanders meet challenges related to transportation.”

The Smart Growth Awards honor those shaping a stronger Rhode Island through innovative leadership, community revitalization and preservation projects and policies, according to Grow Smart RI. Each year, passionate, creative and resourceful Rhode Islanders create projects, plans and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits, both statewide and in specific neighborhoods.

URI’s Transportation & Parking Master Plan has resulted in a campus shuttle system that features right-sized vehicles and frequent runs to respond to demand cycles, construction of a spur from the William C. O’Neill Bike Path in South Kingstown to the Kingston Campus, and a tremendously successful UPass pilot program with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. That program issued more than 2,200 free bus passes to students who agreed to leave their cars at home and did not purchase a URI parking permit. Students can ride RIPTA for free any time and go anywhere RIPTA goes, including Providence, Newport, the Kingston Train Station, Wakefield and Narragansett.

“Everything we have done and everything we are planning is based on the master plan and designed to make URI a greener, healthier and more beautiful place, and one that is less dependent on single-occupancy vehicles,” Rider said.

In March 2018, the University of Rhode Island completed its comprehensive Transportation & Parking Master Plan for the University’s flagship Kingston Campus. The plan established a strategy for the growing campus while enhancing mobility, efficiency and sustainability. The plan also resulted in automated license plate recognition parking and improved transportation signs, the implementation of “complete streets” in the design for the reconstruction of Upper College Road, and electric charging stations. The plan was created in conjunction with the Landscape Master Plan completed in 2017, making for a more pedestrian-friendly community with a distinct sense of place.

Rider highlighted the important contributions of several team members to the development of the master plan, including Kip McMahon, former director of Campus Planning & Design (now university architect at the University of Wisconsin, Madison); Phillip Kydd, executive on loan to URI from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation; Joseph Paradise, manager of Transportation and Parking; and Karen Beck, university landscape architect.

They worked closely with Joe Wanat at VHB Inc.; Andy Hill from Desman Associates; Kris Bradner of Traverse Landscape Architects; Mark Felag at RIDOT; Amy Petine at RIPTA; Lisa Primiano, formerly of RIDEM (now at Rhode Island Housing); Chelsea Siefert, director of planning for the Town of South Kingstown and a member of the University’s Master Plan Review Team; along with the review team, its Transportation and Parking Subcommittee, and the Transportation & Parking Master Plan Steering Committee.