New JT Connell Highway and connector road intersection to open in Newport

By: - March 27, 2023 1:11 am

The Pell Bridge Ramps Phase 2 Project will hit a milestone Thurday, March 30, when the reconnection of JT Connell Highway is slated. (Photo by Janine L. Weisman/Rhode Island Current)

A new intersection at Newport’s Pell Bridge reconnecting two sections of highway that were bisected more than 50 years ago will open the night of Thursday, March 30, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has announced.

The new intersection is where JT Connell Highway meets the JT Connell Connector Road. State transportation officials say the new intersection will offer a more direct connection between Downtown Newport and the city’s North End.

The work is part of the $85 million Newport Pell Bridge Interchange Project, which began in 2020 and is expected to finish next year.

Traffic will be able to use the new intersection in the following ways:

  • JT Connell Highway Northbound (Coming from Downtown Newport): Traffic will go straight through the new intersection toward the roundabout. From there, drivers can easily access the Navy Base, RK Shopping Center, Admiral Kalbfus Road or other roads in the North End heading toward Middletown. Drivers will still be able to turn right onto the JT Connector Road to access the Pell Bridge.
  • JT Connell Highway Southbound (Coming from North End, Roundabout and Admiral Kalbfus Road): Drivers headed to Downtown Newport will use the roundabout and head south on JT Connell Highway and go straight through the new intersection toward Downtown. Traffic on Admiral Kalbfus Road coming from West Main Road, the Navy Base or North End will need to use Halsey Boulevard southbound to reach the Pell Bridge, as they do today.

When the Newport Bridge was completed in the 1969, the Route 138 northbound approach which would have connected Newport to Route 24 in Portsmouth was never completed.

Renovations include a new ramp system aimed at reducing congestion, particularly the backup of vehicles on the bridge from the Downtown Newport exit. 

A map of the new intersection at the reconnected JT Connell Highway in Newport. Downtown Newport is south of this intersection.
A map of the new intersection at the reconnected JT Connell Highway in Newport. (Image courtesy Rhode Island Department of Transportation)

RIDOT will install signs throughout the project area directing drivers to major destinations such as Downtown Newport, Naval Station Newport, Pell Bridge, and West Main Road heading to Middletown and Portsmouth.

The opening of the new intersection is the first in a series of traffic pattern changes RIDOT is implementing this year, with the goal of making a number of improvements prior to the summer tourism season.

In mid-April, RIDOT expects to open a dedicated on-ramp from JT Connell Highway northbound and southbound to the Pell Bridge. Later in the month, the department plans to conduct a weekend closure of Admiral Kalbfus Road at the former Route 138 overpass for demolition of this bridge. 

By Memorial Day, RIDOT plans realign the intersection of Farewell Street and America’s Cup Avenue to eliminate the sharp curve at the start of America’s Cup Avenue and activate a new traffic signal with pedestrian crossing features.

RIDOT will announce the exact dates of the new ramp opening, bridge demolition and Farewell Street improvements in advance. To track the traffic pattern changes, visit 

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Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea

Christopher Shea covers politics, the criminal justice system and transportation for the Rhode Island Current.