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Council Endorses Island-Wide Traffic Plan

A regional plan promises to relieve traffic caused by special events, construction, and accidents.

At its first regularly scheduled meeting of 2012, unanimously endorsed the “Regional Traffic Management Plan” that the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) had presented to Council in December. “I am happy to make a motion to support this plan,” said Councilor Ed Silveira, preceding the vote from the full, seven-member Council.

The plan includes recommendations to alleviate congestion caused by special events, traffic accidents, and construction, and is notable in that it was developed by a collaborative team made up of representatives from Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth police departments, and state agencies. Terry Hazel participated in the plan.

At the meeting, Tina Dolen, executive director of AIPC, asked for the Council’s endorsement, noting: “A resolution by this Council would provide us with a good support mechanism as we work to gain support from other towns as well.”

With several large-scale special events scheduled for summer 2012 (Tall Ships and the America’s Cup World Series, among them), a regional traffic management plan is especially timely. The plan includes immediate-term recommendations, as well as short- and long-term suggestions. The recommendations likely to be implemented before the summer season include developing an island-wide central calendar of special events, and creating a website for centralized communication among municipalities on Aquidneck Island. Information about the regional plan can be found on the project website.

Other business during the short meeting included a discussion of whether term limits should be set for members of the Wind Turbine Committee, which was formed in 2006 with indefinite terms. Councilor Bruce Long described the status of the committee as continuing to work on its original task—studying the feasibility of using wind turbines to meet municipal energy needs—with no need for term limits at this stage.

Wind Turbine Committee chair Christine Weglowski Forster explained that the committee is approaching completion of its work. “In the next few months, we will be wrapping up our work and preparing a white paper for the council,” she said. Forster added that she is also Middletown’s voting member on the East Bay Energy Consortium, a nine-town group that is studying wind turbine locations; she expects her role with EBEC to continue. EBEC is exploring the possibility of installing a group of wind turbines, including a location in Tiverton where a met tower is currently in place to capture wind data.

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