NARRAGANSETT – The condition of South Pier Road, where the town’s middle and high schools are located and a gateway to the town beach, draws frequent criticism from residents and tourists alike. The town will now petition the state to fast-track the road’s renovation and reconstruction.

“Everybody in the town was inquiring about South Pier Road,” said Narragansett Town Council President Pro Tem Susan Cicilline Buonanno. “‘It’s a heavily used road,’ ‘when are they going to do that?’ We know it was deferred and we just want to make it a priority because it’s a road that needs attention.”

South Pier Road, while being a town-owned right-of-way, was originally included on Narragansett’s 2013-16 state transportation improvement program (STIP) application for a requested $1.3 million in state aid to assist with the renovation of the route. The request from the town was subsequently deferred to 2019-20 with estimated aid set at $1.8 million. In the 2018-27 STIP, financial assistance to South Pier Road from the state was again delayed until 2026-27, despite the town listing the fixing of the road as one of its top priorities.

At a recent town council meeting, the body unanimously approved instructing town manager James Tierney to submit a letter to Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti and RIDOT Chief of Planning Tom Queenan, among other state transportation officials, to advance South Pier Road for earlier road construction.   

“We should be talking to the state to see if we can get South Pier Road on the fast-track,” said Cicilline Buonanno. “I just put it on because South Pier Road is a road that is used by a lot of the residents and a lot of the visitors and I don’t want to wait 10 years for us to clean that up.”

With its heavy use as one of the main routes connecting two of the most popular sections of town — the beach and Woodruff Avenue/Point Judith Road, South Pier Road takes on damage from traffic resulting in frequent potholes, bumps and cracks. In 2017, the town installed sidewalks along the road near the middle and high schools to improve safety for students traveling to and from school on foot.

The council requested the town’s letter to RIDOT include photos of the damage, including pavement rating and flooding events.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said town council president Jesse Pugh. “I get random text messages from people about potholes on that road.”

The existing STIP is in its fourth year and expires in September. All current projects, budgets and schedules are being revised as part of a rewrite process that has begun in partnership with the Division of Statewide Planning, according to the town.

The motion to direct the town manager to draft the letter was approved unanimously by the council earlier this week.

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