Aquidneck Island

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Barrington resident Trent Theroux completed his solo swim around Aquidneck Island Saturday. The 40-mile swim took Theroux a little less than the 17 hours originally estimated. He began his swim at 7 am and finished around 11:30pm.

Theroux raised some $30,000 for charity with the swim. He raised money for several organizations dedicated to helping people with spinal cord injuries.

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Portsmouth is considering a no-smoking ordinance that could make all of Aquidneck Island’s public beaches and parks smoke free. The town council voted Monday to draft the ordinance, which could be approved as early as September.

Neighboring Newport and Middletown already have similar bans in place.

Portsmouth Town Administrator Richard Rainor says he’s not sure what penalty the ordinance might carry, but he believes it will still be effective.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Earlier this spring, we brought you a report from our series Battle With The Sea about the impact of climate change on Aquidneck Island's drinking water with warmer temperatures, heavier rains, and more intense storms. But there’s more to the story. We pick up where we left off.

Chris Hunter / Collective Thought Media

The Aquidneck Land Trust has acquired 72 acres of land in Portsmouth to conserve as open space. The Land Trust recently purchased the parcel for $3 million. The scenic property at St. Mary’s Church includes 25 forested acres.

Land trust executive director Chuck Allott said the property at St. Mary’s Church includes forested land that neighbors St. Mary’s Pond, one of Aquidneck Island’s drinking water supplies.  “So it's a very important drinking water, watershed protection parcel and it's also an important habitat property because of that forested land.”

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week, Dave and Mark talk with National Grid spokesman David Graves. They go over the permitting process of stringing new power lines around the island, and why a growing hunger for juice has forced the utility to upgrade.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

National Grid said the tremendous growth on Aquidneck Island has prompted it to spend $93 million on upgrading its power system there.

The utility said the current system is outdated and will soon be overwhelmed. How outdated is it? Well, one substation was built in 1949.

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Officials in Middletown say slow internet speeds are driving away business, and they’re urging  Newport and Portsmouth to help pay for a faster internet for all of Aquidneck Island.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is gearing up to demolish the old Sakonnet River Bridge. The old, truss bridge was built back in the 1950’s after Hurricane Carol washed away the stone bridge linking Aquidneck Island to Tiverton.

It was replaced in 2012 with a new span that caused a bit of a stir over tolling. 

Removing the defunct bridge requires permitting, said RIDOT’s deputy chief engineer Robert Smith, because it’s going to take explosives to bring it down.

Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. / John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

It’s been a half-century  years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  RIPR Political analyst Scott MacKay explores why Kennedy loved Rhode Island and why the Ocean State loved JFK.

Our state is America’s smallest but it loomed large in the life of John F. Kennedy.

From the time Kennedy was a young man, he and his family were shaped by experiences in Rhode Island.  If any event forged the career of John Kennedy it was his World War II heroics as patrol torpedo lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Starting this Monday morning, it will cost you a dime to cross the Sakonnet River Bridge.  The toll went into effect at midnight over the objections of protesters.

About 100 people hung over the sides of the Sakonnet River Bridge Sunday evening waving American flags and signs saying “No Tolls” and “Stop the Theft.” Motorists honked in agreement.

Courtesy RI DOT

The state is slated to begin charging a new 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge next Monday.  Yet it’s not exactly clear how the state will collect that money.

The General Assembly added the 10-cent toll, basically as a placeholder, at the end of the legislative session. The legislature took that action because the absence of a toll on the new span could prevent the state from adding one at a later date. State Rep John Edwards of Tiverton says the toll remains unpopular in the East Bay.

New Bikeway on Aquidneck Island in the Works

Jul 16, 2013

Progress continues for an 18-mile bike path on Aquidneck Island, which will extend from the new Sakonnet River Bridge in Portsmouth to the Newport beaches. 

Tina Dolen, the Executive Director of the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, says that ideas for a bikeway began in 2004 when the Commission produced the West Side Master Plan.  She adds that this project will cost them less time and money than another bike project, the Shoreline Bikeway, also in the works. 

Dolen states that this development will be beneficial for everybody.

US Navy

Thousands of civilians who work for the Navy started taking unpaid furlough days this week as part of federal budget tightening known as “sequestration.” It’s affecting operations at the Naval Station Newport and 49 other facilities.

From this week through the end of September, some 4,200 civilian Navy employees will each take 11 furlough days. That’s a 20 percent pay cut for employees, said Naval Station Newport spokeswoman Lisa Woodbury Rama who took her first furlough day on Monday.

Several RIPTA routes detoured days after the storm

Feb 14, 2013
RIPTA bus at Kennedy Plaza
RIPR file

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is still detouring 12 of its bus routes due to the aftermath of last weekend’s snow storm.  On its website RIPTA says the affected routes will remain detoured until further notice.
You can see the latest information provided by RIPTA here. 

Navy considering using wind power

Jan 31, 2013
Wind turbines at the Port of Providence
Catherine Welch

The Naval Station is looking at the possibility of erecting 12 wind turbines on its properties on Aquidneck Island. The Naval Station’s spokeswoman Lisa Rama, says the goal is for the turbines to produce enough electricity to power the base.