2015-12-10 / Opinion

Be Vigilant for Safety

According to Newport City Engineer William G. Boardman, the timeline for the Broadway Streetscape Project is now likely to extend into 2017. While this news is dismaying enough on its own, we are especially critical about the condition of the handful of crosswalks between Washington Square and Equality Park. In every case, the white lines have faded badly or, in some instances on the north side of Broadway, have been obliterated almost entirely by construction and the wear and tear of regular traffic.

Of course, with our offices located on Broadway, we work every day amid the project and are sensitive to the turmoil of one of the city’s major traffic arteries.

Unlike the smooth sailing that motorists now enjoy on America’s Cup Avenue and most of the city’s other primary thoroughfares, Broadway remains very much a construction area, a work in progress.

To make matters worse, a crosswalk that once crossed directly from the front door of Thompson Middle School has now been moved down the street closer to St. Joseph’s Church. The last thing we need here in Newport is for something tragic to happen to a student from Thompson—or anyone else for that matter—especially during this season of “peace and goodwill.”

A few days ago, we learned about an effort to form what would be known as the Broadway Merchant’s Association. We think the issue we raise here today about the safety of the crosswalks should be a topic of concern for this organization, which will hold its first meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. at the Corner Café on—where else?—Broadway. We fervently hope that this organization will join us in urging one and all to be vigilant for safety.

We understand that some of these Broadway crosswalks may be upgraded and made more easily visible during work later in 2016. We applaud that.

But what about the winter of 2016? One of these deteriorated crosswalks “connects” the Newport Police Station on the north side and the 7-Eleven convenience store on the other. At one point this crosswalk is partially obscured by long, dark asphalt patches. Meanwhile, signs at both ends of this crosswalk plead, “Pardon Our Appearance During Construction, Please Support Local Businesses.”

Sadly, the snow and ice that are sure to come will only make it more difficult to identify any of these crosswalks in their current state—or to see the people who use them.

When we asked recently if the city has plans to restripe or repaint the crosswalks before spring to make them more visible to motorists this winter, we were told it was not likely. Lest we forget about the two pedestrian crosswalk deaths last year, we say for a few unbudgeted dollars, every resident of Newport must agree that for safety’s sake the expenditure would be well worth it.

Let's all be vigilant for safety.

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