A new transportation plan for Newport might revive a way of traveling from a century ago and also anticipates how people are increasingly shopping online.
The Wilmington Area Planning Council is hosting a public workshop on the plan 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, in the Old Newport Town Hall, 15, N. Augustine St.
Work on the plan began in 2021 with three main goals:
• Reopening a Newport train station (an idea that goes back to at least 2011).
• Determining the impact of freight movements to and from the Boxwood Road logistics center used by Amazon and is Delaware’s largest building).
• Improving the downtown for pedestrians and bicyclists.
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All three goals are made harder by the way that downtown Newport basically sits underneath Delaware Route 141.
The agency is ready to explore traffic calming and redesign traffic flow downtown to keep regional traffic dispersed and at low speeds and allow for pedestrians and bicyclists.
It also suggests that the town buy land downtown to create metered parking lots, and it encourages businesses to share their parking lots.
Another idea is extending the Jack Markell Trail, which connect Old New Castle and the Wilmington Riverfront, to Newport, with a new boat ramp.
25 recommendations for the Newport area
The plan looks at Newport, which has about 1,000 residents, and its suburbs, and it makes 25 recommendations. Most involve roadways and shared paths for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The paths, if built, would better connect the Newport River Trail, the train station, the Boxwood Road center (“this recommendation is under consideration by the developers of the Boxwood facility for inclusion in their plans”), the Conrad Schools of Science, Richardson Park Elementary, the Delaware Military Academy, Banning Park and Delcastle Technical High School.
The plan also suggests extending DART’s Route 9 and setting up direct bus service between Newport and the University of Delaware (“ridership for this recommendation is currently lower than the warrant threshold”) and improving several bus shelters.
The biggest idea, by far, is bringing back passenger rail service to Newport. The plan predicts it would cost $30 million to $40 million.
A ridership model updated in 2019 “support the reopening” of the station.
However, a forecast of 500 weekday riders was based 17 trains each weekday, but there are now only 10 weekday trains running through Newport.
The original train station was built in 1908 and has long been demolished.
A new station would be built downtown, with parking expected to use state-owned land underneath Delaware 141. An interactive map places the new station just west of Route 141.
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