State, URI officials, students and faculty celebrate opening of new bike path spur

2-mile branch connects Kingston Campus to South County bike path

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Rhody the Ram and Ken Ken Burke, assistant director of URI Capital Projects, celebrate the opening of the URI bike path
A GREAT FIRST RIDE: Rhody the Ram and Ken Ken Burke, assistant director of URI Capital Projects, celebrate the opening of the URI bike path spur, as they lead the first group ride. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

KINGSTON, R.I. — Nov. 18, 2019 — University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet L. Coit cut a ceremonial ribbon before an enthusiastic gathering of faculty, staff, students and local residents to open the University’s new bike path spur.

The 2-mile, $2.9 million branch connects the Kingston Campus to the William C. O’Neill Bike Path, giving the University direct bike path access to Peace Dale, Wakefield and Narragansett. It also gives community members a safe and convenient way to get to and from campus.

The project was funded in large part by a $2.4 million Department of Environmental Management Green Economy Bond grant.

A key feature of the project is a traffic signal at the point where the spur crosses Route 138 near the Fernwood cemeteries and Independence Square on the URI Kingston Campus. The HAWK (High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK Beacon) traffic system allows cyclists and pedestrians to cross the state highway safely by activating a red light that stops traffic in both directions.

On campus, the spur extends from Brookside (residence) Hall to the east side of Meade Stadium, passing Keaney Gymnasium, Mackal Field House, and the Boss Ice Arena and Bill Beck (baseball) Field. Once cyclists leave the Kingston Campus and cross Route 138, they are treated to views of the pasture and animals of URI’s Peckham Farm to the east and dense woodlands to the west.

OPENING CEREMONY
OPENING CEREMONY: University of Rhode Island and state dignitaries enjoy the ribbon-cutting for the new University bike path spur. From left are: Rhody the Ram, Kathleen Fogarty and Carol Hagan McEntee, Rhode Island state representatives; Janet L. Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; David M. Dooley, URI president; Carol Thornber, associate dean of research at the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and Nick Marotta, president of the Student Senate. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

The URI bike path project is part of URI’s Transportation and Parking Master Plan, which also calls for greater use of Rhody Transportation shuttles and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the Kingston Campus.

The plan also calls for enhanced pedestrian and improved bicycle access on campus, including bike lanes on campus roads and additional bike racks.

URI President David M. Dooley said that the bike path branch is an integral part of an overall plan to transform the campus through its cutting-edge facilities like the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering and Brookside Hall and its nationally recognized sustainability efforts.

“I’d like to thank everyone for making this new portion of the state’s bike path system a reality, including our friends at the Department of Environmental Management and our own Office of Capital Projects,” Dooley said. But I’d also like to single out URI alumnus Phillip Kydd, who served us an executive in residence from the Department of Transportation, for a special thank you. Phil was the catalyst for this project, and he deserves most of the credit for securing the funding from DEM to make this project a reality.

Dooley added that the bike path is part of the University’s comprehensive sustainability program, which also includes an innovative solar energy initiative with South Kingstown and Narragansett and millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that have resulted in a reduction of 26 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“This new bike path is another major step in our plans to make our transportation and parking systems more environmentally friendly. Users will enjoy a safe bicycle route to campus, enjoy some beautiful scenery on the way and get some great exercise at the same time. We hope to see you out here.”

Coit said the project is another example of how DEM and URI work together to build on Rhode Island’s reputation as a beautiful state, from the forests in northern and western Rhode Island to its world renowned Narragansett Bay and beaches.

“It’s wonderful to live in such a beautiful state and work with people who are committed to sustainability, great transportation and recreational opportunities for our residents,” Coit said. “Our goal is to constantly improve and expand our state facilities and open spaces for the benefit of everyone. This project also helps us achieve that goal.”

Coit added that DEM and URI have long collaborated on many projects, “such as coastal research and protection, agricultural development and clean water initiatives. The bike path connection provides enhanced bike access to the Great Swamp Management Area and to our state beaches. I invite everyone to enjoy this great new transportation and recreational asset.”

Carol Thornber, associate dean of research at the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences, participated in today’s festivities.

“I am delighted that the bike path extension has been completed. It will provide a safer option for bicycle commuters from Wakefield, Peace Dale, and Narragansett to ride to campus on a dedicated bike path,” said Thornber who rides her bicycle to campus regularly.

Ken Burke, assistant director of URI Capital Projects, also a daily bike rider, noted that the URI bike path connection will help transform how people move in and around the village of Kingston, now that the University is connected to the Kingston Train Station and Narragansett beaches via the main bike path. “More people walking and biking on these paths makes for a healthier and safer community,” he said.

The designer for the project is Sasaki Architects, Watertown, Mass. and the engineering firm is Pare Corp., Lincoln. The contractor is Narragansett Improvement Co., Providence.