On Oct. 3, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation published its Carbon Reduction Strategy and opened the document’s public comment period, which is scheduled to close Friday. The plan, which is required for states to receive funding from the Federal Highway Administration’s Carbon Reduction Program, is due Nov. 15.
Emily Koo ’13, senior policy advocate and Rhode Island program director for Acadia Center, said the state needs a much more aggressive push toward shifting modes of transportation and the reduction of vehicle miles traveled in order to achieve its Act on Climate targets, which call to reduce emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2040 and to net-zero by 2050.
“There is a glaring disconnect between the scale of emission reduction needed to move the needle and the investments proposed in RIDOT’s Carbon Reduction Strategy,” Koo wrote in an email to The Herald.
The Transit Master Plan, also published in 2020 by multiple state transportation agencies, strives to improve mobility for residents by enhancing the state’s public transit network, including rail and bus routes.
Sweeping expansions and improvements proposed in the plan have not come to fruition — instead, RIPTA faces a potential budget cliff as soon as the 2025 fiscal year.
“In the absence of project-level emissions reductions analysis (or public engagement), we must assume that RIDOT’s process for identifying and prioritizing projects and strategies is based solely on ‘RIDOT’s internal priorities and logistical capacities’ — in other words, the way things have always been done,” Koo wrote.
RIDOT held a stakeholder workshop in Sept. 2023 to identify strategies and priorities while crafting the strategy. Grow Smart R.I. and Acadia Center each had one representative at the workshop.
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