Greater City Providence

Updated: Two-Way Empire and Weybosset on January 10, 2012

Variable message sign at LaSalle Square

Variable message sign at LaSalle Square

Update: Two-way traffic to begin Tuesday morning, January 10th before the AM commute. See Press Release in the comments below.

Signs are up on Weybosset and Empire Streets alerting drivers that those streets will become two-way in “January 2012.” When exactly in January, it doesn’t say.

My understanding is that the final striping and signage and such to convert the streets will be put in place on a Saturday and Sunday morning, Ta Da!, two-way streets. I can’t imagine that work will take place on New Year’s Eve, so I’m speculating we have at least another week to go.

This is of course all part of the Downtown Circulator Project which got underway in April, and was due to be completed in November, oops!

The rebuilt intersection of Weybosset, Richmond, and Mathewson Streets, aka PPAC Square, is also part of this project.

If previous plans hold true, work should begin next year on Phase 3 of the Circulator Project which will include the redesign on Emmett and LaSalle Squares, conversion of Sabin Street in front of the Convention Center to two-way traffic, and the possible two-way conversions of Exchange Terrace and Dorrance Street between Washington Street and Emmett Square.

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.


  • Interesting that they’re doing this at last. Washington street was the first to go two way and it worked out well.

    Empire on the other hand will only be two way from Fountain to Weybosset, or at least that’s how it looks right now until LaSalle Square gets a re-design.

  • I’ve been confused there the last couple of days expecting two way traffic but only seeing it go one way.

  • Empire and Weybosset Streets Scheduled To Become Two-Way on Tuesday, January 10

    Two-way travel will make it easier to drive into and around downtown Providence; pedestrians need to look both ways before entering street, motorists must obey speed limit and take extra safety precautions

    PROVIDENCE, RI – Motor vehicle travel on Empire and Weybosset Streets in downtown Providence are scheduled to become two-way this coming Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Lanes will become two-way early in the morning, before the morning commute.

    Travel on Empire and Weybosset Streets are being restored to two-way for the first time since the 1970s as part of the Downtown Providence Traffic Circulation Improvements Phase II project. Restoring two-way travel on Empire and Weybosset Streets is expected to relieve traffic congestion and make it easier to drive into and around downtown Providence.

    Traffic will be reconfigured as two-way on Weybosset Street from Empire Street to Dorrance Street, and on Empire Street between Fountain Street and Weybosset Street.

    On Empire Street, two lanes will be created heading south toward Weybosset Street and one lane headed north toward Fountain Street. Curbside parking will be maintained on both sides of Empire Street, with parking spaces reconfigured from diagonal to parallel on the east side of the street.

    Because Empire and Weybosset Streets have not been two-way since the 1970s, motorists and pedestrians need to take extra safety precautions. Pedestrians and motorists must look BOTH WAYS on Empire and Weybosset Streets before entering the crosswalk. Motorists need to OBEY SPEED LIMITS AND WATCH CAREFULLY FOR PEDESTRIANS while driving on Empire and Weybosset Streets.

  • Minor point:
    I keep seeing it repeated that Weybosset and Empire were two-way in the 1970s is not true. I remember both as one-way in the 60s either walking downtown or when my parents drove us into the city. I got my drivers license in 1970 and the two streets were definitely one-way because I drove on them. See link, where the newest cars are from the early-mid 1950s showing Weybosset as one-way headed toward the Financial District. The Narragansett Hotel, which was torn down in 1959 is just behind the Outlet Company.

    Weybosset Street Providence RI Late 1950's

  • Empire must have been one way at least since the current configuration of LaSalle Square was constructed. From what I can find on the Interwebs, the Broadway and Atwells exits on 95 opened in late 1964. I don’t know if LaSalle was reconfigured as part of that highway project or the Cathedral Square project which as far as I can tell was started in 1966. The Civic Center was built starting in 1970, but I assume the current LaSalle Square preceded that. Anyone have any better information on LaSalle Square?

  • Washington Street was made one way before the 70’s. This is Trinity Rep from 1956. Notice the One Way and Do Not Enter signs at Washington.

    Majestic Theatre, Providence, RI.

  • Weybosset was definitely one-way. My recall of Empire was off, since the first Regency building was completed in 1966. I’m fairly certain that Empire was one-way by 1970. Empire must have been made one-way shortly after Weybosset Street was cut-off from Cathedral Square by the I.M. Pei plan of 1969, though it could have been a few years later.

  • Man, check out that awesome street wall on Empire in 1962. I may not like 4 lanes of traffic, but I’d love to have those buildings over the now-38 Studios (even if I’m happy they’re occupying the space).

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