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→ ProJo: RIPTA review to examine Providence bus ‘hubs’

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The RIPTA board unanimously agreed to ask a consultant to expand a “comprehensive operational analysis” to include a look at how shifting bus routes to Providence Station and to the Garrahy Judicial Complex would affect service and the agency’s finances.

I’ve heard some talk about this in recent weeks. Without knowing too many details (and the consultant’s analysis will actually be bringing out more details), I think a hub in the Jewelry District helps with the fact that Kennedy Plaza is so far removed from the potential jobs district at that end of the city, and a hub at the train station helps with connectivity to rail. Done right, these hubs could help mitigate the mistake of moving the train station further from the Central Business District and the fact that our Central Business District is less centralized at Kennedy Plaza than it has been through history.

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Champlin Foundation grant to fund gateway project at Burnside Park

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From the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy:


$395,000 Champlin Foundations Grant Awarded to Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Kennedy Plaza Project

Funds will build a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park

The Champlin Foundations recently granted $395,000 to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC) and The Providence Foundation to create a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park. This significant investment will fund a detailed design and reconstruction of the park’s northeast corner, which is a critical element of capital improvement in Greater Kennedy Plaza. An attractive new entrance by the Burnside statue and a corresponding footpath will encourage more varied, healthy activities in our downtown public spaces. By ensuring that the passageway remains safe, clean and well-lit, this project will allow travelers to easily walk through the park on their way from the train station to the RIPTA bus hub, strengthening this connection. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion expected in late summer 2014.

First proposed during a community charrette led by international placemaking experts at the Project for Public Spaces in 2008, this gateway improvement project is one of several transformative changes planned within Greater Kennedy Plaza next year. The city of Providence has committed $1.7 million from its downtown circulator project to reconfigure traffic patterns around the parks. With support from RIPTA, plans call for the relocation of bus berths to the outside of Kennedy Plaza to make way for a pedestrian plaza and market.

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News & Notes

Jersey City - Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line in Jersey City, NJ. Photo (cc) Wally Gobetz.

→ Streetsblog: Why Free Black Friday Parking Is a Bad Idea

Lastly, providing free parking creates an inequity issue for people who do not own a car. As I’ve noted before, more than one-quarter of Cleveland households lack access to a vehicle. Yet, because the cost of parking is already factored into the price of retail goods, these individuals will have to pay for the hidden cost of parking, despite the fact that they will not take advantage of it. Ohio’s transportation policies are already skewed heavily enough towards driving. The round-trip cost of taking public transportation to Tower City ($4.50 per person) is higher than the price for two hours of on-street parking. Requiring the City to pick up this tab only serves to widen the gap between drivers and non-drivers.


→ The Atlantic Cities: Why Correcting Misperceptions About Mass Transit May Be More Important Than Improving Service

If you want to understand why people use a certain transit system, it makes sense to start with the system itself. Frequency, access, and any other service qualities that make riding as convenient as driving will help. Whether or not the way a city is designed and built nudges people toward the system — via residential density and street design, for instance — matters, too.

But as we’ve pointed out in the past, there’s a psychological component to riding transit that’s easy for city officials and planners to overlook. Fact is, we’re not all completely rational about our travel decisions. The perceptions that people have about public transportation, substantiated or not, are powerful enough to attract or repel them.


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Read the Providence Bicycling Master Plan

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Mayor Taveras introduced the updated Providence Bicycling Master Plan this morning at a press conference at Pleasant Valley Parkway where new bike lanes were recently striped.

The Master Plan is meant to be a living document and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission will be accepting further comment on the plan.

Update: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

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→ PBN: Free parking has done little to spur commuter-rail use

Until more people need to get to Providence, [Wickford Junction garage operator Robert] Cioe said, those who do go will be able to drive in and find parking at rates that make it difficult for “park-and-ride” from the suburbs to compete.

Johnson & Wales University is preparing to open a 700-space parking garage downtown, the state is expanding a surface lot near the capitol while adding another, Brown University’s plans for redeveloping the South Street Power Station include a city-financed, 600-space parking garage and the Interstate 195 Commission wants the state to build a new parking garage next to the Garrahy Judicial Complex.

We don’t have enough parking but we have too much parking?

William Lawrence, a transportation consultant in South Kingstown who used to manage real estate for the MBTA, said there are currently a number of barriers standing in the way of commuter-rail ridership to Providence, in addition to the economy.

They include the inconvenience of getting from the Providence train station to many offices and the comparatively cheap cost of parking in or taking a bus into the city.

If we expect people to leave their cars at home, or at a park n’ ride, we need to make moving about the core better. We can’t put people on trains, let them off, and say, ‘good luck!’

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Video: Bikes, Buses, Streetcars, and Automobiles

This video shows the Broadway Corridor of Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar project.

In five auto lane widths of roadway you can see room for a separated cycle track, automobile traffic, bus and streetcar traffic, dedicated turn lanes, and it looks like maybe some parking (plus ample sidewalks with trees). It really shows how you can pack a lot of transportation modality into a not too big roadway. Of course Providence is a place where we have a lot of not too big roadways.

What roads in Providence could you see done up in a similar fashion?


Via: Greater Greater Washington

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→ ProJo: Commission meets to discuss possible Garrahy Complex parking garage

A legislative commission began looking Wednesday into whether building a parking garage adjacent to the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street would be a useful public project.

Garages are easy to build, going up Erector set fashion in months, but expensive — from $30,000 to $35,000 per space, he noted.

“They don’t support themselves out of the gate,” [I-195 Redevelopment District Commission chairman Colin] Kane said.

So it sounds like Kane is setting up the expectation that the public will have to subsidize this parking. GrowSmartRI tweeted:


…indeed.

Update: GrowSmartRI updated their status to indicate that Mr. Kane let them know that he “discussed the importance of transit, walking, and zipcars as part of the transportation equation.” We see the fact remaining that an entire Commission was created to ‘discuss’ parking at one specific location. A Commission where other transportation options may be mentioned, but are hardly the focus. Parking should be being discussed as a part of a transportation system. Parking should not be the focus where every other form of transportation is treated as, ‘oh, sure, that’s important too.’

Previously: State to study Garrahy Courthouse Garage. Again.

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→ RINPR: New Life For Old Train Tunnel May Be in the Works

Gov. Chafee says he’d like to see if it could be opened and used for RIPTA buses. DOT director Michael Lewis says there are no firm plans for the old tunnel and the point of Thursday’s inspection is to see if it’s structurally sound.

I have heard the Governor’s plan could include moving many bus operations from Kennedy Plaza to the Gano Street end of the tunnel and could cost something like a ZILLION dollars. This all sounds very fanciful especially coming from a lame-duck administration. No word from RIPTA about what they think about such a thing.

Also, the tunnel hasn’t been inspected in 20-years!? WTF!?

It does seem a waste to let such a valuable piece of infrastructure sit and rot, what would you do with it?

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News & Notes

Transportation Act Projects announcement

Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announces improvement to Marc train Red Line by Brian K. Slack at Baltimore, MD. Photo (cc) Maryland Gov Pics.

→ The Baltimore Sun: O’Malley to announce $1.5 billion for Baltimore-area transportation projects

Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce $1.5 billion in new state funding for the Baltimore Red Line and more than a dozen other transportation projects in the area Wednesday, officials said, outlining for the first time how the state’s gas tax increase will be tapped to improve local infrastructure and mass transit here.

O’Malley also plans to discuss the state’s interest in attracting public-private partnerships to help fund the Red Line project, and a Dec. 7 start date for weekend MARC train service between Baltimore and Washington, which has never been offered before.

[Baltmore Mayor Stephanie] Rawlings-Blake said the new funding “says that the state is serious about being a partner with Baltimore” to improve connections between transportation options.

“They’re putting their money where their mouth is,” she said. “They’re recognizing that for the state to be strong, Baltimore has to be strong, and it has to be strong as a connected city.”


→ The Boston Globe: Menino pushes plan to boost housing

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to reach his ambitious goal of building 30,000 homes in Boston by allowing taller structures with smaller units, selling public land to developers at a discount, and using subsidies to spur development of more affordable housing, according to a blueprint to be released Monday.

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