The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is now taking public comment on its long-awaited carbon reduction plan.

RIDOT published the 51-page draft online Wednesday and will accept input through Nov. 3 — 12 days before a final plan must be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).

Under the federal government’s Bipartisan Infrastructure law passed in 2021, states are required to create a plan and submit it to the FHA  by November 2023 in order to receive funding for implementation — of which Rhode Island is slated to get more than $35.7 million over five years. Overall, Rhode Island is set to receive $576 million of federal funds between 2022 and 2026 to improve its transportation infrastructure.

Transit and climate activists say they’re glad Rhode Islanders can now have a say in the process. But they are concerned about the short timeframe RIDOT has to consider public comments with one month to go.

“I don’t expect to really get direct responses on what is and isn’t incorporated,” said Emily Koo, program director of the Acadia Center’s Rhode Island Chapter.

Koo was one of more than 20 advocates who sent a letter to RIDOT last month demanding that it release the plan for comment as soon as possible, much like Maine and Vermont did earlier in the year.

Though she lambasted the department’s stealth process in her letter, Koo said in a phone interview Friday that she did meet with DOT officials at an internal workshop in mid-September that “had a lot of forward-looking strategies.”

Still, Koo had several critiques of the draft plan, which includes strategies ranging from adding to RIDOT’s fleet of electric vehicles, sidewalk installations, bike path preservation, and greenway enhancements.

The carbon plan does acknowledge the need to do more beyond car infrastructure, but Koo said there are no clear commitments from the state.

“They say a lot, yet there isn’t any action,” Koo said.

Koo said there was plenty of discussion on the need for more multimodal transit  options at the internal meeting in September and hopes this will be considered in the final draft plan sent to the federal government.

“It would be incredible if DOT took any of them and funded them,” she said.

To read the full article from the Rhode Island Current, click here.