My Letter to City Council
To Honorable Councilpersons Aponte, Hassett, Matos, Principe, and Jennings,
I would like to bring a proposal for Rt. 6/10 to your attention. My proposal was #10 on RI NPR’s “Things to Know in Rhode Island” this week, and I hope I can get Council’s attention to discuss it.
The Rt. 6/10 Connector would be best redeveloped as a surface boulevard. The RIDOT proposal for bus lanes is what I call “transit oriented decoration” rather than “transit oriented development” because the bus lanes would remain on a raised or sunken highway, which would mean that meaningful transit service would pass over your wards.
It’s important to have some kind of “express” service for buses, but what makes buses successful is ridership, which allows frequency. We can only get ridership if we allow the dense neighborhoods that 6/10 passes through to get full service, and that means fostering a healthy pedestrian environment with development around the route. A surface boulevard will do that, and a limited-access highway will not.
Bus lanes without a meaningful ridership base and walkable environment will be as unsuccessful as the Wickford Junction Station was, and for the same reasons.
States like California, New York, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oregon, and Texas have downgraded highways to surface boulevards. The benefits include:
- Better travel times for drivers
- Increased transit and bike access
- Increased opportunity for development
- Less overall cost (the boulevard requires less work than a raised highway)
- More jobs over the long-term, because of…
- Increased development
- Much better environmental outcomes
- Land opportunities for affordable housing development
I feel urgent about this issue, because highways only get replaced every thirty to fifty years. I will be a very old man if this gets reconsidered in my lifetime. Please join me in asking RIDOT to explore surface boulevard proposals for 6/10.
Thank you for your time.
I also sent this letter to Bonnie Nickerson and Bob Azar in the Planning Dept., have contacted the Statehouse Finance Committee, Environmental Committee, Speaker Mattiello, Majority Leader Ruggiero, and Senate President Paiva-Weed.
Councilman Bryan Principe of Ward 13 (West End/Federal Hill) has so far contacted me to schedule a meeting to talk. If you are in his ward, please thank him for his interest.
You can find who your councilperson is here and contact them.