Greater City Providence

Dislike: Walking in the street

Photo by Andy Morris

Yes, everytime I run into someone downtown they say, “are you going to write about the sidewalks on Washington Street?”

Truth is, I’m totally avoiding Washington Street if I can help it. A bunch of things are conspiring to result in there often being no sidewalk on either side of Washington Street.

One thing is good, we like it, new sidewalks are being installed, yay! However, when work is being done on a sidewalk, there needs to be a place for people to go, either make pedestrians cross if there is no room, or block off a secion of the road.

Also blocking the sidewalks are the construction of the Coastway Bank at the old Washington Trust location. For that, there totally should have been a lane taken to put pedestrians into. That has been a long term closure and you can’t just take the sidewalk without replacing the space for pedestrians. It has resulted in people walking in the street.

The final thing mucking up the sidewalk is the Narrow (aka Arnold) Building. I don’t have the full story about what is up there, I know there is a hollow sidewalk (i.e. the basement extends under the sidewalk) and a lack of funds. At this location, barrels have been put out to create a lane for pedestrians, but those barrels seem to grow legs and walk their way back to the edge of the roadway somehow.

So, that’s what I’m not liking right now. The good news, looks like Coastway is almost ready to open, re-opening the sidewalk with it, and the sidewalk replacement is moving along at a pretty good clip (and there are tree wells marked out!). So, we should have some nice new sidewalks soon.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Of course there’s the extended (and controversial) Weybosset St. sidewalk closure as well. However, now part of the sidewalk in front of the Hampton Inn has been blocked off for at least the last month and makes the area even more hazardous. Not to mention the only crosswalk between the two areas is usually occupied by a vehicle. No wonder why the city is broke- they’re wasting revenue opportunities via tickets, citations and fines.

  • If I remember correctly, the city’s cutting tree wells in the sidewalk across the street from the Narrow Building, near the bus shelter. Trees will make a nice distraction from the fugly lot on that block.

  • Most cities can build a 50 story building and keep sidewalks open.
    … and …
    How LONG does it take to build a new sidewalk anyway ?

  • Kind of how it took them MONTHS to do the sidewalks on Broadway. And it isn’t like they replaced entire segments, they essentially did patching.

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