Thames & Spring Streetscape Improvements Project

The City of Newport has embarked on a major initiative to plan for the future of Thames and Spring Streets.  These streets serve as vital corridors for transporting people, goods, and services and provide a rich sense of history through building architecture, quaint storefronts, and access to the waterfront. They are a lifeline for the many businesses along the street and important gateways for residents and visitors. Read below to find out how the City is working to enhance these two streets in a context sensitive way that is respectful of the historical nature of the area.


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Public Meetings

Join us on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 5:30 PM at Edward King House for a Public Presentation to review the Draft Vision for Thames and Spring Streets.
Street Improvements Plan in the City of Newport Rhode Island

Thames and Spring Streetscape Improvements Project Update

The City, their consultants and the Advisory Committee have been exploring ideas for streetscape improvements. See the May 24 presentation and draft concepts here.
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Thames and Spring Streetscape Improvements Project Website

Learn more about the purpose and goals of this project, contact information, resources about the planning concepts that will be used, and, most importantly, how you can get involved in…

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  • Albert Jay Nock

    First, this project has been grossly misrepresented. The pictures do not show all the ugly utility poles and the electric lines along and across the streets. BUT THERE ARE NO PLANS TO BURY THEM. Without doing that, this project is like putting lipstick on a pig.
    Second, during the one to two year construction period, access to homes and businesses will often be blocked, and so will some parking. That includes emergency vehicles.
    Third, this isn’t Broadway. These streets, and the ones that connect them, are very narrow, and going to get more so with this project’s expanded sidewalks and bump-outs. We won’t be able to pass pedicabs, or even get out of the way of emergency vehicles.
    What we really need is to simply bury the utilities and expose/repair the Belgian block pavers, or replace them with brick. But the utility work is estimated to cost $16.1 million, plus NGrid design, plus Verizon, plus Cox, plus about $15,000 hookup fee for each and every electric customer. Are we ready for that? And the labor intensive paver work would create the traffic shutdowns described above. I’d love to see just these two things done, nothing else. But this town was designed in the 17th century, and you can’t put 10 pounds in a 5 pound sack. Let’s move on.

  • Bill H

    Please consider including real space for bicycles. Riding on Thames now is dangerous. Also, please consider retaining the historic touchpoints that connect Newport to its past – brick, not pavers; cobblestone not macadam; bluestone or slate, not concrete. I would urge that the design reflect the colonial heritage of Historic Hill and The Point, not the bus depot/visitor’s center and the Marriott. And that completion incentives be significant.

  • Hayden

    I recently purchased in the old Carey School on Carey St, which connects Thames and Spring. I love the ideas I’ve seen here, and I’d like to see the project run all the way down Thames. The lower section of Thames is screaming for updates/development and this kind of attention could really help revitalize it. Hayden -whaydenbates@aol.com

  • There is no point doing this unless the utility poles are removed and the lines are buried or put in street level conduit. They did this in Watch Hill (Westerly), and it has been done all over the country. See http://www.scenic.org/issues/undergrounding-utility-wires . If this cannot be done, this project should be scrapped. IT WOULD BE LIKE PUTTING LIPSTICK ON A PIG.

  • Jim Coombs

    Great to see a collaborative web site to engage the residence that are users of the streets and facilities of Newport. I’ve lived in the the Lower Thames St. area for 33 years. The overhead wires are an eyesore, burrying them will certainly improve the area. Paving with cobblestones is another improvement that would retain the authenticity and feel of a water-front area. Thames St. gets treated as a walking street in the summer when pedestrians, bicycles, skateboards, rental scooters, pedicabs, and drivers that want to tour the city from their car at 2 miles per hour all block up the through-traffic trying to use the road as it was designed for – driving. These inhibitants slow down the normal flow of traffic causing congestion that backs up into America’s Cup Avenue and they’re not policed in any way. If someone stood in the middle of any other road, they’d be arrested for obstruction of traffic, but it happens all the time on Thames St. If a creeping car, pedicab, bicyclist, pedestrian is holding up more than 5 cars, they should be ticketed for obstruction of traffic. The Seattle area has signs that say “Delay of 5 cars is illegal” for the big trucks hauling timber that have to pull over to let cars pass. For whatever the reason, the objective is to maintain traffic flow and should be considered here too. The alternative is to close off Lower Thames street to traffic completely and route all southbound traffic to Bellevue Avenu which would cause a nightmare at the Bellevue / Memorial Blvd. intersection and along Bellevue Ave.

  • robert richardson

    As a Taxpayer and resident, of this City, for over forty years, I and my neighbors through our Property Taxes, State Sales and Income Taxes and our Federal Income and Excise Taxes have been asked to support these following Newport Infrastructure improvements: The Newport Public Library, Goat Island Redevelopment, The Goat Island Causeway, The Gateway Center and Parking, Fleet Landing (State Pier) improvements, America’s Cup Ave., Memorial Blvd Extension, The PELL/Sullivan School, New Police Station, Thompson Middle School, City Hall Improvements, Rogers High Improvements, Easton’s Beach Bath Houses, Easton’s Beach Micro-Wave Facility, West Broadway – Broadway early redevelopment, Washington Square Improvements, Present on-going Broadway Improvements, Perrotti Park improvements, Harbor Master Building and Cruise Boat Landing docks, Upper-Thames Street Redevelopment, HOPE 6 in the North End, RI Community College, Queen Anne Square, Bellevue Ave.- Ocean-Drive Repaving and Period Lighting, Brenton Point State Park, Fort Adams-Sail Newport, Rest Rooms 40-Steps, Cliff Walk Improvements, Water Treatment and Sewer Plant Improvements. I estimate that these projects add up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 300-500 Million $$$. What is most noticeable about all these projects, NONE of them are located in the Lower-Thames Area. Lower-Thames commands some of the highest Land/Property Value in the City and State. Mainly because of its high density. Thus, the area Residents and Businesses pay some of the highest taxes per-square foot of any location in this State. In return for this burden placed upon us, the City has built the Wellington Ave. Micro-Stainer/Sewerage facility that failed the first time it was used and hasn’t worked since. Also, the rebuilding of the Anne Street Pier and Yachting Facilities in the Basement of the Armory. But those improvements Mainly serve the Summer Tourist. Thames Street was paved over a few years back, but only because of the America’s Cup event and the embarrassment that Lower-Thames Street presented. More-over, that was paid for by the State of Rhode Island! In the Winter/Spring of 2006, I and several other members of The Citizens Advisory Committee met with Members of the City Administration and several City Council Members to discuss the then proposed upcoming 2006, 12 Million Dollar Bond Referendum for road resurfacing and repairs. Out of that discussion, it was agreed that somewhere around 5 million of that Bond was to go to a Lower Thames Street Project. That was the way the Bond was advertised and sold to the Citizens of this City, who, overwhelmingly approved the referendum. One of the Seated Council Members attending that meeting was our New Mayor, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano. I have been told that 5 million from that Bond Referendum still exist. Given the fact that we were Promised 8 years ago that Lower-Thames Street would get its own “Redevelopment” and that the Project is now going to be Funded off of the States T.I.P. list and there is 5 Million Promised to this Project from the Citizens of Newport, it would be Criminal to do anything less than a 1st Class Redevelopment that includes the burying of the Overhead Utility Lines along Lower-Thames, at least to Wellington Ave. !! We/I have waited over 40 years to see something come back to this Neighborhood from the City. I would Hope that I might see It’s completion before I Die or move to Florida!!

  • John Groarke

    Great Website! Yes, cobblestones would be great, also hanging plants like on Bellevue! Buried wires if we can get the funds…..

  • EngageNewport

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about this project. Please consider coming to one of the three workshops so you can hear more about what is planned and share your ideas. All workshops are open to the public. Tonight’s is from 7-9 at the King House, tomorrow there is a walk around starting from the King House from 9-12 and then another meeting at the King House in the evening from 7-9. Hope you can make one.

  • Mike Cullen

    1. These two streets merit the undergrounding of electrical lines. Yes, there are ways to pay for it. Other U.S. cities have been undergrounding for years. Newport needs to take on these bigger challenges. 2. I fully agree on the use of cobblestones and brick, too, on selected streets. We need more on the city council to understand the value and resist knee-jerk reactions to simply skim coat every street with asphalt. (Clarke Street had strong potential; sadly city processes to solicit additional funds to keep historic street features are ad hoc and should be standardized. We should be able to do much better.

  • John Edwards

    I agree on the electrical lines – but I would add that if the city is going to bury those lines, consideration should be given to rehabilitating and reusing the cobble stones on lower Thames that are under the existing asphalt street. Newport as a historic city should promote the use of cobble stones to keep the historic charm as well as keep speeds lower in the busier sections of town. While this creates an issue for people on bicycles – given that most of the pedal traffic is heading the wrong way down Thames, perhaps expanded use of cobble stones could curb this practice as well.

  • Cindy Curtis

    I propose that the twisted nasty electrical lines be buried or otherwise neaten them up…that is the main eyesore on lower Thames and I drive it every day.