Newport celebrates reopening of visitors center

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Project leaders say it was a long 10 months renovating the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center while at the same time staying open and fully operational. Now they’re happy to tell travelers, residents and neighbors that the project is complete.

“This is great, the first thing that somebody sees when they come into town is a beautiful structure like this,” said Newport Mayor Henry Winthrop.

The center opened about 30 years ago in 1988. It used to have a fabric like tent covering on the bus shelters. They were ripped up during Super Storm Sandy. Now they’re a more roof like metal structure.

“We didn’t just rebuild it, we made it more resilient,” said Democratic Senator Jack Reed. “But one of the biggest improvements is not as easy to see. Now rain falls on the shelters, goes down the gutters and then underground into new rain gardens at the center that should help with flooding.”

“We’ve added the infrastructure here that will absorb the water, it won’t get out into the streets, and it won’t flood the neighborhoods,” said Mayor Winthrop.

In total there are three rain gardens around the roughly 8.5 acre property. Changes were also made to make getting around the center easier.

“I’m really looking forward to how this performs for the next 30 years,” said Evan Smith, President and CEO of Discover Newport.

According to RIPTA, the total cost of the project was about $6 million. 90 percent of it was federally funded.