In one of the meetings of the Providence Downtown-Knowledge District Development Framework Study Committee, of which I am a member, we discussed the idea of a pedestrian/bike bridge over Route 95 between Point Street and Eddy Street. There is a long-term proposal for Rhode Island Hospital to build on a site along the highway, and the other side of the highway is a potential home for a parking structure.
The idea was thrown about for a minute, then immediately shot down as too expensive, would never happen, and we moved on. But why? We had money for the Iway. We have money for the Pawtucket River Bridge, on and on, we’ve gone over this before. Yes, we are in a recession, especially in this city and this state, but when there is a need for autos, we find a way.
In Minneapolis, they’ve found a way to build a stunning bridge for bikes and pedestrians. And their bridge was built to bypass a road that actually does have crosswalks. Albeit a terribly wide, dangerous road, but you can cross it. One cannot cross Route 95 on bike or on foot.
Here’s Minneapolis’ bridge:
In the video State Senator S. Scott Dibble addresses the fact that there is controversy over spending $5 million to build this infrastructure. But he points to the cost-benefit analysis versus road infrastructure, the benefits to the community quickly add up.
As a community, we have decided that the pedestrian bridge over the river is a worthy investment at $4 million. Finding another $4 million or so to build more ped/bike infrastructure in the Jewelry District would no doubt be a challenge. But if we reject it out of hand as too expensive, not possible, then it will never have a chance at reality.
We moved rivers, we moved train tracks, we moved an interstate highway, certainly a ped/bike bridge is not too much to dream.