Work begins to transform URI’s historic main thoroughfare into a beautiful, pedestrian- and bike-friendly road


KINGSTON, R.I. — June 22, 2021 — Upper College Road, which dates back to the earliest days of the University of Rhode Island, is now getting a much-needed, comprehensive facelift that will enhance its beauty and make the more-than-century-old thoroughfare safer and more enjoyable. 

Upper College Road, which dates back to the early 1900s, is the main route to the Kingston Campus’ quadrangle and its granite buildings. About 29 acres on or around the quadrangle, including URI’s most historic buildings, were entered into the National Register of Historic Places in January 2017.

HISTORIC CAMPUS GATEWAY: The Memorial Gates, as shown in the 1930 edition of the “Grist,” the Rhode Island State College yearbook, frame Upper College Road as they still do today at URI.

“This project will serve to enhance the history and beauty of our Kingston Campus, while at the same time put in place features that will calm traffic and make it much more enjoyable for walkers and cyclists,” said Abigail Rider, vice president for Administration and Finance.

The last major work done on Upper College Road occurred in the 1980s. With Rhode Island Department Transportation funding, the University rebuilt Upper College Road and added new sidewalks and ornamental lighting.

URI community members and local residents should know that parking spaces along Upper College Road from Route 138 to Briar Lane have been eliminated to accommodate the project. Flaggers and police will assist with lane closures and traffic delays that could occur during construction. Drivers should plan for delays, exercise caution in the area and consider alternate routes such as Old North Road.

The contractor for the new project, Cardi Construction Industries, of Warwick, is on site now, and will continue working through the project’s completion in early fall. The contract award for Cardi Construction is for $2.1 million, with funding coming from three sources: a $1 million grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management “Green Economy Bond” (to support alternate modes of transportation and clean energy), a $400,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and the University’s Roads bond account.

 “The Upper College Road project reflects the University’s various master planning studies and implements the “Complete Streets” philosophy of transportation, where a greater emphasis is placed on pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit,” said Ken Burke,  assistant director of the Office of Capital Projects.

Soon our University will have contiguous bike and pedestrian friendly corridors from the South County William C. O’Neill Bike Path to the south, through the new URI Bike Path Spur, and now through some of the major roadways on campus.” 

The project calls for the reconstruction and realignment of Upper College Road from Route 138 north to Fortin Road, including new sidewalks, granite curbing and lighting; wider sidewalks, crosswalks, and speed tables between Campus Avenue and Fortin Road; and a contiguous bike lane in both directions. In addition, new campus wayfinding signs, and security and parking system amenities are part of the project.

 The section of the road from Fortin Road north to Flagg Road will be milled (ground up), and repaved. New road striping includes markings for the new bike lane on both sides of the road, which will connect to Flagg Road, to which bike lanes were added in summer 2020. Flagg Road links to the URI Bike Path Spur behind the Brookside Apartment complex.

 “This summer, between Route 138 and Fortin Road, you will see the removal of existing sidewalks, curbing, street lights, signs, asphalt and associated features,” Burke said. “Prior to September’s fall semester opening, temporary street lighting will be placed at appropriate intersections. Permanent street lighting should be on site and operational by the month of October.”

The Fortin Road to Flagg Road portion of the project will include new ramps for those with disabilities and is expected to be completed prior to the September start of classes.

The URI Police Department, Safety and Risk Management, and the Kingston Fire Department are working closely with the Office of Capital Projects and the contractor to ensure that the project proceeds safely and on schedule and with as few traffic impacts as possible.