Categories

Tag Archives | Lincoln Chafee

ProJo: R.I. agency opens bids for Cranston Street Armory repairs

armory-flickr

Photo (cc) Tom Bastin

The R.I. Division of Purchases received six bids Friday from companies seeking to undertake rehabilitation work on the Cranston Street Armory on the city’s West Side.

[…]

[Lincoln D. Chafee] called for the renovation of the historic, 165,000-square-foot, building and the relocation there of certain state agencies from leased properties.

But seriously, where will everyone park?

1

What Cheer / What Jeer 2013

We’re running a little late this year but we’re finally ready to run down the What Cheers and What Jeers of 2013.

what-cheer-south-street-power-station

WHAT CHEER: South Street Power Station (Maybe)

In 2013 we got another plan to redevelop the moribund South Street Power Station. While numerous plans for the building, which at one point was known as the Dynamo House, have come and gone, this latest plan engenders optimism as Brown University is involved now.

In January the New York Times and then The Brown Daily Herald reported on rumors of the university becoming involved in the project. Then in June Brown announced it’s plans for the building in a letter to the campus community.

Those plans include a home for the long talked about URI/RIC Nursing School, office space for Brown, and some sort of retail component in the former power station building. Brown also has a developer engaged in building a student apartment building in the neighboring parking lot along Point Street and the City is involved in plans for a parking structure across Point Street from that.

The latest news on the project comes from the ProJo just before Christmas with reports that the PRA is considering condemning the building so the project can move forward.

While this could all be looked at as another in a long line of proposals for the building, Brown’s involvement makes this proposal seem more promising. 2014 will show us if this project actually moves forward.

Continue Reading →

6

State defiantly moves ahead with surface parking

state-house-parking

In spite of Providence Zoning rules and Capital Center rules forbidding it, the State is moving ahead with plans to expand a surface parking lot on the State House grounds and building a new surface parking lot adjacent to the State House.

ecoRI reports that the Department of Administration (DOA) has already started work on expanding the Assembly Members parking lot on the State House grounds. “Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces.”

Meanwhile, as we discussed in July, the DOA has spent $3.1 million purchasing property along Francis Street next to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for even more surface parking.

The Chairman of the Capital Center Commission, Deming Sherman is none to happy about all this. Sherman told The Providence Journal that there should be less parking around the State House, not more and that a parking garage should be built behind the DOA building.

When the State restarted the project to expand the parking lot on the State House lawn in June of this year, Sherman contended that the plan had to be submitted to the Capital Center Commission for review, the DOA claims that their authority supercedes the Capital Center Commission (which was created by the State) as well as City zoning.

Continue Reading →

22

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?

29

State to pay $3.1 million to buy land for prohibited parking

state-house-parcels

Image from Google Maps

As Ted Nesi reported in his Saturday Morning Post and ProJo reports today, the State Properties Committee has agreed to spend $3.1 million acquiring several parcels on Francis Street across from the State House and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. State officials tell ProJo they would like to turn the land into a parking lot ‘available for visitors to state offices on Smith Hill and patrons of Veterans Memorial Auditorium.’ The Governor’s Director of Administration, Richard Licht, told Ted Nesi, “It may be 25 years or more before we actually put a building on it, but we’ll never get it for a lower price.”

The parcels are within the City’s D-1 zoning designation (as well as in the Capital Center District). D-1 zoning regulation list surface parking as a prohibited use except for as a carefully defined interim use (ephasis mine):

Interim surface parking may be permitted by waiver by the DRC as an interim use so long as it is either accessory to another interim use on the same lot, or to accommodate parking to serve a construction project. Said construction parking shall cease when the construction is complete. Interim Use surface parking lots shall conform to Section 502.2 E.

Why is the State spending money for land to use for a prohibited use? State government has been shrinking, why would we need more parking on Smith Hill? Isn’t there a public garage at the DOT? Isn’t there street parking? Isn’t there parking at the mall? Isn’t the State strapped for cash? Couldn’t people take the RIPTA to Smith Hill? Is there really a parking crisis up there, can people not get their business with the State done due to a lack of parking (I’ve never found that to be the case)?

This would be a fine place for more State offices, but we do not need for it to be a surface parking lot for 25 years.

Oh, and just in case you forgot what state you were in, RINPR reports that most of the parcels in question are owned by former Senate Majority Leader John Hawkins. Isn’t that convenient for the retired Senator?

26

10 reasons why the Apponaug Circulator is ‘not ready to go’

The Providence streetcar project is not the only TIGER grant application coming from Rhode Island. RIDOT has also submitted an application for the Apponaug Circulator Long-term Improvements Project .

The Mayor has thrown his support behind the streetcar however the Governor (former Mayor of Warwick) is not on board, saying through a spokesperson to WPRI that the streetcar project is, “not ready to go.”

I contend that it is the Apponaug project is not ready to go, here’s why:

apponaug-4-corners

RIDOT rendering of Four Corners in Apponaug.

1. 20th century traffic solutions

The one-way circulation as it exists today was a temporary response to the construction of the Post Road Extension by-pass built in the 1970’s. High-speed traffic from that bypass was dumped into the one-way circulation to reach Routes 117 and 1 at the southern side of Apponaug.

The current circulator project seeks to relieve problems cause by heavy through traffic and fix “numerous roadway deficiencies [that] exist along all legs the circulator, including narrow lane widths, narrow or nonexistent shoulder widths, insufficient horizontal curves, poor curb reveal, and poorly defined curb openings.” At the same time, it seeks to improve the environment for area businesses, pedestrians, and cyclists.

These wide lanes, wide shoulders, broad curves, and etc. are exactly what make a village center environment such as Apponaug a poor place for pedestrians and cyclists and by extension, a poor place to run a business. This kind of engineering perpetuates the high-speed movement of automobiles and will not help get pass-through traffic to stop and patronize area businesses.

Basically, these conditions extend the road environment of the Post Road Extension straight through Apponaug.

2. Walkability

While the plan calls for reducing the section of Post Road between Four Corners and Williams Corner, the main historic business district, to one lane and installing curb extensions leading to raised crosswalks through that section, the rest of the roadways through the project feature four-lane arterials with wide shoulders; not an ideal environment for pedestrians.

The project features four roundabouts and one tear-shaped not quite roundabout at Williams Corner. While the proposal claims that, “A key characteristic of roundabouts is their ability to handle pedestrian crossings safely,” I’m dubious about the safety of pedestrians in any roundabout that has two-lanes of high-speed traffic moving in each direction. ‘Yield to pedestrians’ and speed limit signs can be put up all over the place, but traffic will move at the speed the road is engineered to allow it to move at.

The business district portion has good pedestrian enhancements, the rest of the project area is not ideal and continues to cut pedestrians off from the surrounding areas.

Continue Reading →

13

Providence streetcar back on track

rendering-streetcar-empire

Rendering of proposed Providence Streetcar at Empire Street.

In late 2009 then Mayor David Cicilline unveiled the Metro Transit Study, calling for the return of streetcars to Providence. In the intervening years, the Core Connector study has looked at the possibilities for doing just that, through studies and public meetings. A locally preferred alternative route connecting the East Side with the Hospitals area in Upper South Providence has been approved by RIPTA.

Then, we entered our fiscal emergency and the streetcar was put on the back burner.

In March of this year, Mayor Taveras gave his Economic Report and expressed his support for seeing the streetcar project continue. Last week, the City of Providence Department of Planning and Development applied for a Federal TIGER grant to partially fund the streetcar project.

The TIGER Grant Application calls for $39 million in federal funds to use towards the $114 million project.

The grant states the remainder of the project would be funded by City TIF Bonds ($54.32 M), RI Capital Plan funds ($15 M), RIPTA CMAQ funds ($5.25 M), and a RIDOT land transfer ($0.80 M).

Operating funds and debt service totaling $6.93 million per year would be funded by the TIF; an Assessment District; parking revenues; fares (~$2), sponsorships, and advertising revenues; and a three year CMAQ subsidy.

The TIGER Grant application included letters of support from RIPTA, the RI Convention Center, Brown University, the College Hill and Jewelry District neighborhood associations, the Providence Foundation, Grow Smart RI, AARP of Rhode Island, the Sierra Club of Rhode Island, House Speaker Gordon Fox, and others.

If the City receives the TIGER funding, construction could begin as early as 2015 following completion of design and environmental revue, with service commencing in 2017.

1The Governor would rather we build a rotary and by-pass road in Warwick.
2Yes, that’s me from 2011.

22

Free commuter rail parking through March 29, 2013

ridot-wickford-junction

Wickford Junction train station and parking garage. Photo &copy RIDOT.

Governor Chafee and RIDOT Announce Free Parking at Commuter Rail Stations for Rest of Winter

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that parking at the garages at the Interlink at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick and at Wickford Junction Station in North Kingstown will be free for the reminder of the winter.

“As we have seen over the past couple of days, travel conditions and parking in Providence have been anything but normal because of the blizzard,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. “In consideration of what has happened, and the expectations of future storms in the coming weeks, we have decided to provide free parking at our commuter rail stations to make it easier for people to get to work for the rest of the winter.”

Commuters taking advantage of the free parking will receive validated tickets allowing them to exit the parking garages at T.F. Green and Wickford at no charge through Friday, March 29, 2013. Fares from Warwick and Wickford to Providence are $3 and $3.25, respectively, each way. Fares to from these stations to Boston’s South Station cost $10.50 and $11, respectively. Full schedule and fare information can be found on RIDOT’s website at www.dot.ri.gov.

“While we can clear roads in a relatively short time following snowstorms, major weather events such as the blizzard leave huge volumes of snow that create hazardous situations for many days with slick and narrowed roadways, snow-covered breakdown lanes and less parking,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “These problems are being experienced all across Rhode Island, but are greatly exacerbated in a dense, urban environment such as Providence.”

Continue Reading →

1

Governor installs State Police Lieutenant Colonel as RIPTA overseer

ripta

This scandal at RIPTA is just what the agency doesn’t need. Although, maybe if a thorough cleaning of the house results, it will turn out to be exactly what it does need. Let’s hope politics can keep out of the way of truth and sanity.

From the Governor’s Office:

Governor Chafee Asks State Police to Secure RIPTA Records, Launch Investigation to Ensure Proper Handling of State Resources

State Police Second-in-Command to Assist with Management of Agency

Need for Intervention Discovered as Result of Governor Chafee’s

Request for Performance and Accountability Review

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Steven G. O’Donnell, and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Board Chairman Mayor Scott Avedisian today announced that they have asked the State Police to look into the possible mishandling of public resources at RIPTA. Thursday night, Governor Chafee asked the Rhode Island State Police to secure RIPTA’s internal records in an effort to protect potential evidence of wrongdoing within that agency.

Colonel O’Donnell has assigned Lieutenant Colonel Raymond B. Studley, Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Field Operations for the State Police, to coordinate the investigation and assist with the management of the agency.

“Serious allegations of wrongdoing have been made in the course of RIPTA’s top-to-bottom review,” Governor Chafee said. “Mayor Avedisian and I believe that these allegations are serious and that in order to preserve the public trust an investigation by the State Police is warranted.”

“I want to make clear, though, that these allegations involve only a small, small portion of the total population employed by the State of Rhode Island, and should in no way reflect on the vast majority of hardworking, honest state employees,” Governor Chafee continued.

“Mayor Avedisian and I have asked Lieutenant Colonel Studley to work with RIPTA to coordinate the investigation and assist with operations, identify process improvements, and generally assist the organization. He is a proven leader and manager and a man of unwavering honesty and integrity. He is there to be a resource and an asset,” Governor Chafee concluded.

Continue Reading →

2

PPAC Square is great, needs trees

PPAC Square

This morning the Providence Performing Arts Center was joined by Mayor Angel Taveras and Governor Lincoln Chafee in officially unveiling the new PPAC Square, otherwise known as the intersection of Weybosset and Mathewson Streets.

Governor Chafee accepting his award

At the event, PPAC’s President Lynn Singleton presented Governor Chafee with a Founder’s Award in recognition of work he did as a U.S. Senator to secure funding for the roadway project. PPAC Square is part of Providence’s Traffic Circulation Improvements project.

The Downtown Providence Traffic Circulation Improvements Phase, of which the PPAC Square work was included, began in April 2011. The $5.5 million project restored two-way traffic on Weybosset and Empire Streets for the first time since the 1970s, while maintaining curbside parking on both sides of Empire Street. The PPAC Square project installed a dedicated drop off lane immediately in front of the theater and built out a functional traffic median that includes new sidewalks, 25 trees, granite planters, bike racks and new benches. The downtown project was supported with $4.7 million of federal funding, $700,000 of matching funds from the state and a nearly $1 million appropriation secured by PPAC for improvements within PPAC Square. An additional $800,000 was procured through a Providence Public Building Authority Bond.

Continue Reading →

7
Link

ProJo: R.I. Gov. Chafee proposes moving state offices into landmark ‘Superman building’ in Providence

Governor Chafee, as part of a package of budget amendments submitted to the legislature Thursday, proposes using part of this year’s revenue windfall to fund the initial planning and engineering to evaluate moving state offices into the building at 111 Westminster St.

See also: Bank of America to leave the “Superman” Building, now what?

10

Reader Submission: No joy at the DMV

FAILThough Governor Chafee made a great show of improving the DMV early in his term, we still hear no end of complaints about the agency. Below is an email a reader sent us about her recent experience:

I spent an hour on hold where a single sentence repeats over and over and over just to get to a voicemail box of an employee in the communications department?

I need my vehicle title returned. There seems to be an online database that I could use to accomplish this task, but can’t access without paying a huge amount of money. Why restrict it? So many of your customers could be using online tools instead of perpetually unavailable personnel to solve their problems.

I paid to register my car and my title was sequestered. Now I need to pay to recover it? And waste hours of my time to get no service whatsoever?

Your service is so terrible that dealing with you is the most dreaded errand of any errand. I’d rather spend a day cleaning toilets with a toothbrush than visit your offices. At least I would know that my goal was something that could be accomplished.

You have a new building, and NOTHING has improved except for your lobby. You should have stayed in Pawtucket, hired 10 more people for customer service, and 5 people to put any service possible online for FREE.

How have your experiences at the DMV been of late? Better? Worse? You wish you were dead so you’d never have to go there again?

9
Link

RINPR: Chafee unveils plan for state’s distressed communities; legislative outlook uncertain

Flanked by mayors and town managers from around the state, Governor Lincoln Chafee unveiled a plan this afternoon for helping Rhode Island’s most fiscally troubled communities. He held up a copy of the Providence Journal - featuring headlines about Woonsocket’s cash crunch and Providence’s bond downgrade - to underscore the gravity of the situation.


See also:

1

State of the State address

chafee

Governor Lincoln Chafee’s State of the State and budget address:

Remarks as Prepared
January 31, 2012

Mr. Speaker, Madam President, members of the General Assembly, fellow General Officers, members of the Judiciary, distinguished guests, and my fellow Rhode Islanders.

This evening represents an important chance for us to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the upcoming year. But it also offers an opportunity to reflect on where we have been, and to remember those who came before us. In that spirit, I’d like to pay homage to a friend who died last week, Governor Garrahy, and honor him with a moment of silence.

[Moment of silence.]

Thank you.

Throughout Governor Garrahy’s long and distinguished career, as a legislator, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor, he always put the people of Rhode Island first. That was the key to his phenomenal success in politics and as a person.

I especially want to remember one aspect of his leadership. Governor Garrahy was a true gentleman. He treated everyone – including his political foes – with dignity. The highest official of our state was completely down to earth, and always approachable. As we prepare to debate the issues of our time, and work to address our daunting challenges, let us learn from Governor Garrahy and treat one another with respect. Like him, we are all Rhode Islanders, and we all want what is best for the people of our great state.

Continue Reading →

0

What Cheer/What Jeer 2011

We’re taking a look back at 2011. What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheer195 Demolition

You guys all know there are like a dozen cities all over the country that are insanely jealous that we tore down our downtown expressway, right?

Putting aside what happens with the 195 Commission (we’ll talk about that in a minute), it is so totally awesome that the highway is gone. Even without any development happening yet, the Jewelry District has been transformed. Suddenly, with the highway gone, people realize the Jewelry District is on the edge of Downcity. And while the sidewalks aren’t exactly jammed, it is certainly noticeable how many people now choose to walk between Downcity and the Jewelry District, who would not before.

Chestnut Street

Route 195 being torn down at Chestnut Street in the Jewelry District

whatcheerBroadway Bike Lanes / Gano Street Sharrows

Anticipated since at least 2008, bike lanes finally showed up on Broadway in 2011.

We also saw the city’s first sharrows show up on Gano and other streets, helping to connect the East Bay and Blackstone bike paths.

Let’s hope we see more bike infrastructure sprouting up on streets all over town in 2012.

whatcheer35 Weybosset Façade

It is going to mean a parking lot, but a parking lot was in the cards all along, we’ve saved the façade for future use and that is going to greatly blunt the impact of the parking lot.

Thanks to the Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and all others involved in saving the façade.

35 weybosset rendered

Image: © Chad Gowey 2010. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading →

3

News & Notes

cornell-tech-campus

Proposed Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Inside Higher Ed: The Lure of the City

Cornell, one of the only top private research universities in the country not located in an urban area, saw expansion into New York as a necessary component of its future ambitions and was willing to go to greater lengths, invest more money, and better conform to what the city wanted, officials said.

The competition helps cement the idea research universities have been pushing in recent years that they can serve as economic engines to local communities and the country as a whole, and could spawn a host of similar initiatives in other cities.

It also reinforces a growing notion that research universities are going to need access to the resources provided by urban areas to continue to serve as such engines. “We believe the city had the right idea at the right time,” Cornell President David Skorton said at the announcement. “The tech sector of universities is shifting from simply the pursuit of knowledge to service of business and industry.”


Continue Reading →

0

Harvard looks to private partners to jump start development in North Allston. A model for Providence?

 

The Boston Globe reports on plans by Harvard University to jump start development on its land in North Allston by teaming up with private partners. The University’s plan would bring in private investors to develop a life sciences complex in the Boston neighborhood across the Charles River from their main Cambridge campus.

Does any of this sound familiar, a large institution, crossing a river, developing life sciences”¦ Of course we’re obsessed right now with the Route 195 land, but the fact is, Brown already has numerous holdings in the Jewelry District, chiefly along Richmond Street, before even going after Route 195 parcels.

Continue Reading →

0