Archive | 195 Relocation Project

195 Street Grid Part 1: Wickenden Street area, Ron Henderson

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As the Iway project moves along, RIDOT and the city are looking at the rebuilt street grid below where the highway now stands.

See the RIDOT plans here:

Download RIDOT Street Grid Plan (east of Providence River)
Download RIDOT Street Grid Plan (west of Providence River)

While the rebuilding of the grid may seem to be a simple project of reconnected streets that were removed by the highway, there many issues to consider. The City held two meetings recently to give the public an opportunity to view and comment on the plans. We will be looking at some areas of concern that we have for the proposed grid here at Greater City: Providence. We start off on the east side of the Providence River looking at the Wickenden Street area and looking at an alternate plan proposed by Landscape Architect Ron Henderson of L+A Landscape Architecture of Providence.

First let’s look at RIDOT’s proposal.

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Where Route 195 used to be…

Won’t it be so cool when we can finally say that? On Thursday morning (weather permitting) the Iway project brings us another step closer.

Video by Jef Nickerson


RIDOT is getting ready to open the next major segment of the Iway to traffic on Thursday, June 18, 2009. The change will take place during the overnight hours on Wednesday, June 17 and be in place for the Thursday morning commute.

All motorists driving on I-195 West will be impacted by this change, and should plan extra time to become used to the new traffic pattern. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.

Just as is the case today, motorists on I-195 West who want to access I-95 South will need to use the left lanes while motorists seeking to access I-95 North will need to use the right lanes. The main difference is that the split will now occur just after Exit 3 (Gano Street) and the Washington Bridge. Motorists should move into the correct lanes before they pass over the Washington Bridge.


Map from RIDOT

More maps and detour information here.

ProJo has a video showing the new alignments. Personally, I can’t figure out how to get to Route 95 south from Federal Hill now, nice to know people in East Providence will be as confused as me soon. 🙂


It’s Official: Universities Target 195 Land


We all knew this was coming eventually, but Brown and Johnson and Wales have now officially made their play for their piece of the coming 195 land. The Projo has the details about House Majority Whip Peter F. Kilmartin’s (D-Pawtucket) legislation authorizing the state DOT to sell the two universities 6 of the 19 acres of the 195 land at “market prices.” The rub is that the deal would bypass the public bidding process typical of state land sales. J&W wants about 2 acres for a new hospitality school and dorms and Brown wants the rest for new several biotech centers to compliment the medical school, which will be relocated there to renovated space.

The argument being made is that if such a move is made now (before, actually, the state’s plan for the 195 plan has been released) that it’ll allow Brown, J&W, and the city to all team up, do some planning, and create a strong neighborhood product to sell to private industry. The key quote from Richard Spies, Brown’s vice president for planning, is:

“This allows other private investors to make plans knowing that at least two anchor tenants are in place,” he said. “It gives the state and the city the best overall chance of success by getting us as quickly as possible to critical mass.”

I strongly recommend reading the Projo article for all the details.

The key questions for all of you reading are:

  1. Do you support any university involvement on the 195 land at all?
  2. If so, do you support this plan? If not, how should the universities be involved?
  3. Is Richard Spies right, that having the universities as “anchor tenants” makes this an easier sell to industry?

My opinion is that if done right (something Providence doesn’t have a great track record doing), Spies could be correct. This means that before Brown and J&W are allow to buy this land that they should present the public with a plan for how they will turn this area into a vibrant, compelling, 24 hour a day mixed use neighborhood. Not just a promise, but renderings, architecture, buildings, retail, amenities, interaction with transit, the works… And why no public bidding process?

Basically, I want the plan to be in place before the action is taken rather than the old RI way of acting first with promises, hoping everyone will plan and do the right thing, then holding no one accountable when nothing happens as desired. My yell-able phrase for this now is, “Before a plan, no land!”…

Sound off in the comments section!


Tempting fate?

195 Overpass at Wickenden Street

Route 195 overpass at Wickenden Street, by Jef Nickerson

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought one of the major reasons we’re building the Iway is that the current Route 195 is ready to fall down on top of someone at any second. If you walk under any of the overpasses you’ll see that they are held up with duct tape, gum, two by fours, pigeon droppings, and fairy dust. So why oh why are these giant ass dump trucks parked on top of the Wickenden Street overpass every night. Is this really a good idear?

While I’m whining:

Hot Club Parking

Cars parked at the Hot Club, by Jef Nickerson

Dear Hot Club:
Your customers are not allowed to park on the sidewalk.
Hugs and kisses,

One last photo, no whining, no ranting, just a nice little photo of the tug boat Reliance under the Iway Bridge.



Editorial: I-Way Quality Job 1?


Photo from RIDOT

Driving home the other day and taking the new on-ramp to 195 off of 95 South, I couldn’t help but think about Jef Nickerson’s comments here on the blog regarding how outrageous it is that our 23 year old Amrak station is already in need of heavy renovation. Exiting off 95, my car met the new ramp to 195 with a decided “thud” as the pavement between the ramp and the highway already has a dimpled depression in its left lane. Far from glass smooth, the concrete of the ramp mildly reverberates through the car with an “erer-erer-erer-erer” sound until hitting the bridge, where things quiet down. Good luck seeing what lane you’re in while driving, though, as some of the white lane markers are actually a bit hard to make out since they, incredibly, appear to be rubbing off and fading away. This is all quite remarkable for a roadway which hasn’t been open as long as some milk has been sitting on supermarket shelves.

The distressing quality of build of the Big Dig in Boston has been well documented, and experiences like this one on our Little Dig feel depressing similar to driving its big brother to the North. Is this ramp going to be a pitted, pot-holed mess in 15 years? Why does it already look 20 years old and not pristine from day one? Why doesn’t it give me confidence it’s going to be in great shape in 30 or 50 years?

As repairing and replacing our current woeful roads, rail, bridges, and tunnels gets a hard look as a stimulus measure, let’s make sure we’re not building the infrastructure crisis of 2059 right now…


IWay Bridge Lighting


This week we saw hints of what the completed IWay bridge lighting will look like. This doesn’t appear to be the complete picture, since, in this shot, the tower structures are not lit, and if you look carefully, you’ll notice that only the northern half of the bridge has its decorative lighting turned on.

I think the lighting looks great, but WOW is it bright! You could see the beams of light in the sky above the bridge for some distance. I can only imagine the wash of light that will be cast when both sides are lit.

It certainly will be quite a beacon. When there is a festivity and they setup search lights to aim at the sky, it does create a sense of “OOh, whats going on over there?”. When this thing goes full intensity, I think it may create that same sense of wonder and draw.


You can’t get there from here

katrinkles flickr

Photo © katrinkles from Flickr

Starting December 6th (weather permitting) the end of Route 195 and the reconnection of Downcity and the Jewelry District begins. All traffic on Route 195 eastbound will move to the new Iway alignment and old Route 195 (including exits 1 and 2) closes, for good.

The RIDOT website has the rundown on what’s closing, what’s opening, and how to get from A to B. Expect mass confusion once the switch happens as traffic from Route 95 south to Route 195 east will now exit on the right instead of the left as it currently does (visions of cars zooming all the way across 95 to reach 195 are dancing in my head).

Moving traffic off 195 east allows for the construction of connections for 195 west to the new Iway alignment and eventually, the demolition of the old Route 195.

iway fall08

Click image to enlarge


Public meetings on Waterfront Park winning design

city-seal_135pxExecutive Office, City of Providence, Rhode Island

Date: May 22nd, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Karen Southern, Press Secretary
(401) 421-2489 x 752


Mayor Cicilline invites the public to provide additional feedback as winning design moves closer to implementation


PROVIDENCE – Mayor David N. Cicilline today invited the public to learn more about the concept design for Providence’s new waterfront parks in a presentation by the firm Brown, Richardson, and Rowe, the winning team in the Waterfront Park Design Competition. The firm’s lead designer, Nina Brown, will give a presentation and the public is encouraged to provide feedback at the two upcoming meetings:

Tuesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m.
The Providence Foundation Auditorium
30 Exchange Terrace

Wednesday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m.
Waterplace Restaurant, 2nd floor
One Finance Way in Waterplace Park

Mayor Cicilline kicked off the Waterfront Park Design Competition last fall by asking design teams to develop their vision of a spectacular waterfront park on two parcels of land that will become available when Interstate Route I-195 is relocated. He appointed an 11-member design selection committee consisting of community leaders to pick the winning concept among 16 submissions. Brown, Richardson and Rowe emerged as the winner.

The purpose of the meetings is to give the public an opportunity to help further refine the concept design for the two parks. The project must also meet contract schedules set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), which is building the parks as part of the highway relocation project.

A video presentation of the proposed park designs and an opportunity to submit comments electronically may also be found online. Written comments may also be sent to the following address before June 15, 2007:

Waterfront Park Design Public Comment
Dalrymple Boathouse
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02903

The parks are scheduled to be constructed in 2011 and will be one of the last features to be completed as part of the highway relocation project.