For half a century, the ramps to the Pell Bridge and a main connecting highway have partitioned Newport, cutting the North End off from the rest of the city. With the state working to reposition those ramps, the city is hoping to bridge that divide.

The city’s formal vision for the area, called the North End Urban Plan, calls for transit improvements and recommends building safer bike and walking paths around the North End.

The North End Urban Plan also focuses on creating more higher-paying, year-round jobs in the North End, to diversify Newport’s economy away from tourism.

“It is meant to be a bold statement for 21st-century American living, that will connect the North End with downtown Newport — healing their separation that an elevated expressway has created for the last half-century,” said Alan Mountjoy, a consultant who helped draft the plan.

The City of Newport spent more than a year developing the document, and city officials are in agreement that significant work lies ahead to implement the plan.

“We’ll be doing some zoning changes that will be proposed to us. Also, any developer will have to present a plan,” said Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano. “So the real work begins now.”

City Councilor Jamie Bova called it “a great plan,” but said the city must remain committed to implementing its suggestions.

“The approval of the North End Urban Plan lays the groundwork for that,” she said. “I think the amount of participation and feedback that we got from residents throughout the entire process, shows how committed our North End residents and our Newport residents are to making sure that they’re a part of the future of this community.”

This fall, the Newport Planning Board added several amendments to the plan that seek to boost equity and prevent displacement, after some North End residents expressed concern that economic development could accelerate gentrification.


Antonia Ayres-Brown is the Newport Reporter for The Public’s Radio. She can be reached at antonia@thepublicsradio.org