Letter: When we cross that bridge

Posted 2/29/24

We need more deliberate thought and creativity.

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Letter: When we cross that bridge


To the editor:

The saying, “Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it,” is one of my favorites. When something comes up, let’s deal with whatever it is when it happens.

Owning a business is not for the fainthearted. Things come at us that we could never plan for, but rather than curl up into a ball, we figure it out. We rise.

While many of us have adapted after 2020 so we are still in business, we now face the literal bridges in our way of being able to keep standing.
The Washington Bridge debacle is affecting all of us, and it isn’t always the actual traffic. Sometimes it is the perception of traffic that keeps people in their neighborhood bubble.

Some in government keep repeating, “the traffic isn’t that bad.” My friends who must be at work before 8 a.m. say otherwise.

There is no spinning this into a positive situation. The Washington Bridge brings many from Providence and everyone west and north of Providence to our businesses. If you are a Rhode Islander, Providence to Bristol is a big ask in the best of times.

Many businesses pull clients from Jamestown, even North Kingstown and Narragansett, who make the trip over to Bristol for an appointment, to shop, bike, visit a museum or enjoy our restaurants.

The new traffic pattern to get to and from the Newport Bridge is still confusing and congested at many of the hours customers travel here. Another challenge.

Then from the ivory towers of decision making, we learn the Mt. Hope Bridge will be reduced to one lane of traffic starting March 11, with a schedule of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays to Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays.

I understand that we must care for our bridges now so we are not in the situation that the Washington Bridge has put us in, but the memo started with, “We are pleased to report that the Mt. Hope Bridge dehumidification project is well underway.” Pleased?

The letter went on to say, “We are reaching out to give you adequate time to plan for alternate lane travel that will enable traffic to move in both directions.”

What does this mean?

As a peninsula, Bristol is a pain to get to and from under the best of circumstances. How are we expected to operate our businesses with three pathways, involving three separate bridges, all compromised at the same time?

I am sure that the Bridge Authority planned for this project long before the Washington Bridge situation, but how much more can our leaders ask without offering feasible solutions? There must be a better way so there are businesses left.

We need more deliberate thought and creativity.

What about a true Ocean State ferry system with regular stops all over both West and East Bay, with trolleys to get people where they need to go? This would require far more creativity and planning. I am sad to say our leaders don’t seem interested in creative solutions.

It is time for true leadership.

Alayne White

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.