Greater City Providence

Guest Post: Building streets


Future Friendship Street

[alert type=”warning”]Jewelry District resident Lewis Dana sent us some photos and a bit of snarky commentary to go with them. Enjoy.[/alert]

I don’t know much about building a new street, either. …

Based on this shot of the continuation of Friendship St., early on you dig large holes, drop in these storm sewer pipes and cover them up with dirt. If all goes well, the sanitary lines go in at the same time. Let everything settle for a year or so.

Then you come back, dig more trenches for water, gas and electric services, back fill them and pave everything over.

Then some wise guy asks, what about telephone and cable? So you send in new teams of workers who barricade the streets, jackhammer trenches through the new macadam, install cable and phone, and patch everything back up.

If you’re being fastidious, you make a smooth job of it. Judging by the bomb cratered condition of Chestnut Street, into which someone sawed a fiberoptic trench about 7 years ago, that is a faint hope. Traces of that havoc remain to this day all along Chestnut, which is not on the Mayor’s 40-million dollar street repair map.

When the dust settles, mostly on everything in our apartment, is it too much to hope that the Grafitti Patrol will stop by and remove the tags with which the contractors have embellished every sidewalk in the neighborhood?

According to a tweet by Congressman Cicilline, the groundbreaking for the streetgrid rebuild is happening now.

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  • I think that Chestnut Street is set to be rebuilt as part of the 195 street grid work, but I don’t know how much, all the way to Point..?

  • Ahh… Same story on Hope St, North Main, and my own sidestreet in Pawtucket. Nobody seems to be looking at the thing saying “you know what, this whole thing needs to be re-done, let’s do the gas, water, sidewalks, street, curbs, drains, and signals all at once”. One year they come and dig up the water lines, three months later they come patch it over. Then they come in and dig up the gas lines…

    My street wasn’t much of a ‘looker’ to start with, but now it looks like a bomb went off. As far as I can tell, there are no plans to restore it to something people can have some pride in. I’ve noticed a dramatic proliferation of litter since the construction started.

  • Infrastructure replacement is probably one of the most challenging things to do when it comes to construction scheduling. You have find a balance between “ripping it all up” and still keeping the street accessible and maintain the services for that street. Phasing a project while not ideal is the best way to go. Imagine opening up an entire section of street for sewer, water and gas replacement at the same time. There is no way that you could have all three utilities working on that same section of street. It would also be inaccessible since the whole street from curb to curb would be dug up until the entire job was completed. Run into a problem underground that you didn’t expect and you could be looking at delays of days or even weeks before the street would be accessible.

    That’s why they phase in the trades based on estimated time to do the job then factor in delays due to weather, subsurface conditions and allowing the new utility lines to settle. That’s what they did with the NBC project on my street. The street was a mess with temporary patches over the work, but they had the street covered and accessible when I got home at the end of the day.

    You can try and schedule them closer together but one snafu and whole project falls behind. In the end I have a completely new street with up to date utilities. To me the hassle was worth it. That being said. Since the streets in the new 195 area don’t exist and there is no infrastructure tighter scheduling of the work should be possible. Its much easier to build a brand new street infrastructure than it is to replace an existing one.

  • In fairness to the engineers who have to figure this all out, Dan is absolutely right. Coordinating the various players who have to work in sequence, one on top of another. It’s kind of like having 5 or 6 people trying to cross Niagara Falls in opposite directions on a tightrope: awkward at best, a disaster at worst.

    RIDoT did a presentation and Q&A session at Brown Med School today about the new streets in the I-195 land. It’s clear that for the next two years, we’ll be walking our own tightropes through the Jewelry District and Wickenden St.

    But, Hey! If all goes well, the net result will be improved infrastructure which you young people will enjoy for decades.

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