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Strong Towns: From Highway to Boulevard

route-6-10

6/10 Connector from the Atwells Avenue overpass

Currently a six lane highway running like a loop off of I-95, the 6/10 Connector goes from Capitol Center through Smith Hill, Federal Hill, Valley, Olneyville, Manton, the West End, Silver Lake, the Upper South Side and Lower South Side, ending back at I-95 in the suburb of Cranston. These are working class and middle class neighborhoods with walkable bones, and the highway goes against its name and disconnects them from one another, ensuring more driving. Many businesses in the poorer neighborhoods of Providence rank high on the per-acre value scale that Joe Minicozzi’s Urban Three developed, but the design flaws imposed on the neighborhoods by decades of RIDOT mistakes do not allow those advantages to show.

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The mayor’s administration recently added a 6/10 Boulevard proposal to the “TIP” or Transportation Improvement Plan, for the state. This marks a new milestone in a journey from the boulevard being a wild pipe dream to a proposal that seems likely to happen. Ominously, another version of the project—a complete rebuild of the highway—still is on the TIP. Advocates from Moving Together Providence are working to make sure the boulevard is built and that it does not become a stroad.

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5 Responses to Strong Towns: From Highway to Boulevard

  1. David February 5, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    As a resident of Tobey St which people speed down as if it’s a highway onramp to 6, it really REALLY makes me happy to see this idea gaining so much traction.

  2. James February 5, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    Hi David,

    I used to live on Tobey Street, and that very observation is one of the things that first got me thinking about this. I’ve always hoped the ramp at the end of Tobey for getting onto the highway could become the ramp to the new bike path, like this: http://www.streetfilms.org/lessons-from-portland/

    Stay strong! And talk to your neighbors about this. We need more people talking about it.

  3. barry February 6, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    Thanks James, you and your associates have really moved this agenda much faster than I ever thought possible. Even at the truck toll hearing at House Finance on Thursday, a legislator asked RIDOT Director Alviti about it.
    His response was it will be considered but made no promises. He did reference the need for moving traffic quickly. To some extent, it will be seen as about suburban convenience vs benefits to the city;s neighborhoods. However, I’ll add that some of us living in suburbia do want to see Providence succeed.
    I suggest keeping on eye on the extra tens of millions millions RIDOT is considering for widening I-95 north thru Providence when they redo the northbound viaduct.
    Having lived in the San Francisco Bay area I’ve been so impressed with the benefits of the freeway removal along the waterfront north of the Bay Bridge, even if visitors driving off the bridge take a few more minutes to get to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. I recommend check it out if you go there.

  4. James Kennedy February 6, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    Yes, just to name those associates (because I name them in things and editors literally edit them out, including in this article):

    Jonathan Harris, JWU professor of design
    Arthur Eddy, architect at Birchwood Design Group

    We also had considerable help from Kelly Knapp, who moved on from the project but did a lot of imagery.

    I have done a minimalist job of outreach because am stretched very thin, but I hope that suburbanites or city dwellers alike will feel free to email me with questions at my first name dot p dot my last name @gmail dot com. I hope people are clear that we are *not funded at all*. I was graciously allowed about $700 of funding to do work, but the vast majority of our work has been free and has involved Art and Jonathan sacrificing a lot of time and money, as well as myself trying to squeeze out time between being a jack-of-all-underemployment. 😉

  5. ada monitor February 15, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    James, thank you for crediting the design associates who are regretfully omitted in journalistic reporting. One small edit, but a distinct one – Arthur Eddy is a landscape architect.

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