Greater City Providence

City Council moves to politicize proposed roads bond


Dean Street re-construction in 2009. The City of Providence proposes a $40b bond to finance repairs to 62 miles of roads and sidewalks in the City.

As reported by Ian Donnis on RINPR, the City Council is meeting tonight to put a provision in the proposed roads bond bill that would give them control over what streets and sidewalks get repaired in their Wards:

RINPR quotes Councilman Terry Hassett:

That was one of the concerns among the council members — making sure that anything that is distributed through a bond for infrastructure that the council member has a direct and specific role in terms of what streets would get done, what sidewalks, and where the emphasis should be. That was the concern.

Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv Tweets the move could result in a Mayoral veto:

Why? Because there has already been a systematic review of roadways in the city that need attention and 62 miles of roadways have been identified as the ones which will be worked on should this bond pass (I hope to see that list before I’m asked to vote on the bond). The Council argues that they know best what their Wards need. What they know best is which streets getting paved get them the most votes towards reelection.

There’s also the simple matter that the bond money should not be equally dispersed among the 15 Councilors. There are Wards that are in more need than others based on trucking, bus routes, sheer road miles, and other factors that mean they should get more or less money than other Wards.

The City has created a formula to rate roads and determine which need working on, there is no reason the Councilors need any more say over that. If they don’t agree with the formula, then address that, don’t say you get to pick and choose what needs doing under some, “trust me, I know what’s best for my Ward,” song and dance.

[alert type=”muted”]See also: RINPR: Providence City Hall slams council faction’s plan for allocating road repair money[/alert]

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.


  • The city council is wrong on this one. Politics as usual; depressing.

    To reduce spending (and taxes), could we try paving only main thoroughfares? Perhaps use cheaper gravel for the rest? The gravel might have a traffic calming effect. Trucks might avoid the side streets. It might also be cheaper to do sub-street repairs; no sooner is expensive paving done than utilities and others cut the streets up again.

    If we could save some real money, perhaps we could get back to a pay as you go system (i.e. stop borrowing money for routine tasks), and stop creating more piles of unsustainable city debt.

  • However streets are ultimately chosen to be resurfaced, rather than completely grinding down and resurfacing all chosen streets, a more conservative alternate measure for selected streets could be to hot oil and patch asphalt the worst pot holes or fissures then partially grind the road surface by an average 1/2 inch or so. Ground road surfaces are pretty good to drive on. This technique was used on a segment of Route 24 in the Taunton/Brockton area and worked well as a finished surface for a highway. It would be fine for city streets and in particular side streets. Also, within the last month the Newport Bridges’s heavily patched concrete deck was lightly ground down where they had to avoid manhole covers and steel expansion joints. Now the ride is close to new. If the city employed this grinding technique in addition to full resurfacing, more streets could be improved to get more mileage (excuse the pun) out of the money it will be borrowing.

  • This has that famous sidewalk list written all over it, and it is incredibly disappointing, especially considering how many new city council members there are since then.

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