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Infill development in Quahog

The other night, watching an old episode of Family Guy on one of the 37 stations it airs on, as one does, I noticed something about the Drunken Clam.

clam-parking

The clam used to have a surface parking lot next to it. Looking at later episode one notices a new building on that surface lot.

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Link

Media Matters: STUDY: Media Missing The Mark On Gas Prices

A Media Matters analysis of print and television coverage of rising gasoline prices between January 1 and February 29 finds that news outlets often provided a shallow and shortsighted treatment of the issue. For instance, several outlets largely overlooked fuel economy standards – a key policy solution that mitigates U.S. vulnerability to price spikes – while promoting increased U.S. drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, which would likely move gas prices by only a few cents, if at all. In addition, cable news outlets primarily hosted political figures rather than energy experts or economists to comment on gas prices. Fox News, which covered gas prices far more frequently than any other outlet, regularly blamed President Obama for the recent price increase, a claim in line with Republican strategy but not with the facts.

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News & Notes

Pratt Street in Baltimore in spring

Pratt Street in Baltimore. Photo (cc) dionhinchcliffe

→ The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore’s downtown public spaces get a face-lift

A vision for the “greening” of downtown Baltimore is taking shape after city leaders proposed ambitious steps to keep and attract businesses and residents by making public areas more inviting.

An open-space plan unveiled last February by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore calls for a network of spaces that link neighborhoods to the downtown by offering “visual cues,” pleasant streetscapes and activities to propel pedestrians from one block to the next. The plan, the first of its kind for the downtown, envisions new or enhanced parks and plazas, as well as livelier streetscapes and public spaces that feature regular activities.

Sounds similar to the CityWALK proposal here in Providence.


→ Streetsblog: Dear Media Lemmings: Headphones Don’t Kill People, Drivers Do

There’s a University of Maryland study making the rounds today that links pedestrian fatalities with the wearing of headphones – a three-fold increase over the last seven years. Judging from the breathless headlines, the causation is clear. “Study Shows Sharp Rise in Accidents Involving Tuned-Out Pedestrians,” reads the Chicago Tribune. “Fatal Distraction,” says MSNBC. “Music to Die For,” sneers the Post.

With no accounting for driver error, this study isn’t worth the paper its printed on. In taking motor vehicles and their operators out of the equation, you might as well pin pedestrian deaths on Chuck Taylor tennis shoes or Orbit chewing gum.


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News & Notes

Union Plaza tunnel from Waterplace

Waterplace Park, photo (cc) pvdEric from Flickr

→ Planetizen: The Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S. and Canada

The results of our crowdsourcing project, in collaboration with the Project for Public Spaces, reveal not an objective Top 100 but instead a handful of communities passionate about their own local public spaces.

Number 66 on the list is Providence’s Waterplace Park, described by Project for Public Spaces.

Waterplace Park and the Riverwalk linked to it have a welcoming, well-thought-out design, which has become a focal point of the overall revitalization of Providence’s downtown area. But what really makes these great places is the wealth of activities they host. Between the annual Convergence art festival, the WaterFire installation which runs on selected nights most of the year, the Summer Concert Series, and long-term installations of public art, there’s always something going on – and all of these events are FREE.

Here’s what we said about Waterplace back in 2008 when the APA named it a Top 10 Public Place.


→ Streetsblog: The Power of Blogs and Social Media in Transportation Policy

Speaking to Streetsblog in July, attorney David Savoy gave bloggers credit for the granting of a retrial to his client, Raquel Nelson, who was charged with vehicular homicide after her four-year-old son was hit by a car as they attempted to cross a dangerous arterial road on foot. “I’ve never understood the power of the blogosphere,” Savoy said, “and now I’m humbled.”

Blogs? Hey, that’s us!

See also: Greater Greater Washington.


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UPDATED: Providence featured on the Travel Channel tonight

Olneyville New York System

Olneyville New York System. Image from Travel Channel.

For those of you who don’t have 47 Facebook friends who have already posted about this, let us tell you that Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food lands in Providence tonight. Well, technically, they landed in Providence a while ago, what they did while they were here is on the television tonight, at 9pm on the Travel Channel.

Adam visits Providence, RI for a unique grilled pizza and for the infamous Triple Murder Burger. Adam’s journey concludes with him coaching a rugby player through 15 fully-loaded hot wieners in 45 minutes.

Judging from the photo gallery on the site, they also paid a visit to Bob & Timmy’s Grilled Pizza on the Hill.


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Coverage from last night’s Route 195 Community Forum

Speakers at last night's Route 195 Community Forum. From left; Kelly Mahoney, State Department of Administration; John Marion, Common Cause RI; Thom Deller, Providence Planning Department; not pictured Arthur Salisbury, Jewelry District Association.
From left; Kelly Mahoney, State Department of Administration; John Marion, Common Cause RI; Thom Deller, Providence Planning Department; not pictured Arthur Salisbury, Jewelry District Association. Photo from Common Cause RI’s Facebook Page

Last night’s forum was well attended (probably 100+ in the crowd) and a lively discussion on the issues.

Better Providence video’d the event, we’ll have that for you as soon as it is available online, for now, coverage from local media:

This post will be updated as more information is available.

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News & Notes

→ Cost of driving has risen 3.4%, study finds [USA Today]

Rising gas prices. Costlier tires. Lousy deals on vehicle resales. If it seems that it’s costing more to operate a motor vehicle these days, that’s because it is – 3.4% more than a year ago, according to auto club AAA.

The average annual cost to own and operate a sedan in the USA, based on 15,000 miles of driving, rose 1.9 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile, or $8,776, says AAA’s 2011 “Your Driving Costs” study.

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News & Notes

→ Ad Nauseam 2010: The Year in Car Commercials [DC.Streetsblog]

Car sales are up, auto shows are packing them in, and the GM IPO was oversubscribed, but there may be no surer indicator of the auto industry’s recovery than the renewed avalanche of car ads rumbling across every medium. And there’s no better way to get a glimpse of what a born-again car culture might look like than to stay on the couch for a spell, un-mute the TV, and watch—that’s right, on purpose—a sample of 2010’s ads selling us our car-centric way of life. Here are some of the year’s most egregious attempts to get us into the dealership by conflating car ownership with American values.

→ Neighbors won fight for narrower Willy St. — now they want even more [The Capital Times, Madison, WI]

It is a walkable commercial and residential strip that embodies the cityscapes lauded as new urbanism by city planners. It’s also the main drag in a neighborhood that’s home to many of the city’s most outspoken activists. So when the aging infrastructure of Williamson Street on Madison’s east side is scheduled for a rebuild, you’d better believe its citizens will have their say. Speak they have, and managed the unlikely feat of getting the street scheduled for narrowing.

But some say that’s not enough.

→ How Shared Space Challenges Conventional Thinking about Transportation Design [Planetizen]

Before he died in 2008, the great Dutch street designer and engineer, Hans Monderman, re-introduced to the world the concept of shared spaces as the appropriate basis for designing urban streets. Shared space is based on the idea of self enforcing use of public spaces by different types of users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit and private vehicle operators. The idea has caught the imagination of some designers in the USA, but it is still largely treated as a design style rather than for what it really is – a fundamental rethinking of the underlying philosophy related to the design and operation of transportation facilities.

→ As She Walks Out the Door, (CT) Gov. Rell Makes it Safer to Walk Down the Street [Mobilizing the Region]

On Friday, outgoing Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced significant changes to ConnDOT’s bike and pedestrian policies aimed to improve the delivery of projects, increase the pot of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects and enhance the existing design manual so cyclists and pedestrians are fully considered as part of the design process, as required by the 2009 Complete Streets Law.

→ Can streetcars save America’s cities? [CNN]

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Streets of Providelphia

This afternoon Mathewson Street stood in for Philadelphia as a crew filmed a pilot for an ABC program Body of Evidence. It is one of them Medical Examiner solves crimes type shows zzzzzzzzzz… sorry, I fell asleep.

Hopefully it gets picked up though. It would be good for the economy to have another show filmed in the city. ProJo wrote about the show the other day.

Photos by Jef Nickerson

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Liberty Elm Food Network viewing party – February 22, 2010

The Liberty Elm

Photo (cc) Sarah Parrott

Owners, friends and fans of the Liberty Elm Diner are gathering tomorrow night to watch the Liberty Elm episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and the public is invited. Host Guy Fieri had just dropped in for the taping last summer (where he signed the wall) when the flapjacks hit the fan regarding the owners’ overdue sales tax payments. Some agreement has been achieved and they are still in business and that is worth celebrating right there. The television show airs at 10pm on Monday for those who can’t get out. For those who want a party head down to the Everyman Bistro and with live music starting at 8:30pm (and continuing after the show airs) courtesy of the Killdevils, Lucky 57, and Mark Cutler and Friends.

Party 8:30pm (show 10pm) Everyman Bistro, 311 Iron Horse Way, 751-3630

Via: Providence Daily Dose

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Metro Transit Study to be released Thursday

ppl_onleyville_trolley
Photo (cc) Providence Public Library

The ProJo has a very good comprehensive story on the Metro Transit Study which is to be officially released on Thursday. Really, it is a good story, the best, most balanced story on RIPTA I think I’ve ever seen in the Journal.

I am planning to attend the release event on Thursday morning and will have a comprehensive post of my own. In the meantime, you can read up on the study here.

Update:
ProJo had this awesome rendering on the frontpage of the print edition.

providence_streetcar_rendering_web

Should our streetcars be orange to go with the city’s “P” branding?

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Maddow, Rep. Defazio (D-OR) discuss infrastructure jobs

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rep. Defazio joins Rachel at about the 4:40 mark in the video above. Defazio points to stimulus spending on infrastructure is producing the most jobs and urges that more stimulus go to infrastructure to attack our infrastructure crisis and create jobs.

Related is the Paul Krugman New York Times Op-Ed mentioned in the video. Krugman calls for more direct federal aid to state and municipal governments to help them balance their budgets and hopeful avoid layoffs in areas such as education and public safety (RI could certainly use some help). Krugman also calls for a mini-WPA, federal money pumped directly into job creating public works projects.

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NPR: On The Road to Safety

As millions of Americans get in their cars this week to visit friends and families for the Holiday, NPR is running a series on Road Safety. On The Road to Safety is a weeklong multimedia report from NPR on highway safety:

Throughout this week, National Public Radio will be airing stories and hosting conversations about highway safety. We’ll explore the many ways that safety has been improved through better vehicle technology, smarter road designs, and reformed behaviors, such as reduced drunken driving.

The changes have yielded dramatic results: In 1969, the driving-related fatality rate in this country was 5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The current rate is about 1.27 deaths.

But fatalities are still high because of the many dangers that remain, especially on rural roads where trucks, RVs and passenger cars frequently collide. And new risks are emerging as more and more drivers look away from the road to send text messages. At the same time, tens of millions of aging baby boomers are entering the years when driving skills will be declining significantly.

In coming decades, will we see more advances in safety because of new technologies and laws? Or will we see fatality rates start to rise again?

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So what is going on with Struever Bros.?

Dynamo House

June 27, 2013: Brown letter to campus regarding South Street Power Station project

So ProJo reported on their blog yesterday and in print today that Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse has left Rhode Island and pulled out of all projects that it was working on here. PBN however reports that that is not entirely true.

Both papers quote CEO William Struever, ProJo:

“Like many other real estate development and construction companies, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse is working through the complex challenges of these trying economic times,” Struever said in a statement. “While Struever Bros. will have no continued ownership in the future phases of ALCO, McCormack Baron and Olneyville Housing are committed to the revitalization of one of the most important projects in all of Providence.”

and PBN:

“We remain committed to getting our projects moving forward and getting our tenants in,” Struever said.

SBE&R’s financial problems are no secret, a quick look at the Google Machine will return many stories recounting the company’s woes from Rhode Island to Baltimore. Many contractors here in Rhode Island have claims against the company. SBE&R has pointed to the loss of Rhode Island’s historic tax credit and the freezing of credit markets as a major contributor to it’s financial woes.

SBE&R’s largest current projects in Providence are ALCO in the Valley neighborhood and the Dynamo House in the Jewelry District.

The first phase of ALCO is complete with United Natural Foods having moved their corporate offices from Connecticut to ALCO. According to ProJo, McCormack Baron Salazar of St. Louis will be taking over the next two phases which will include 85 units of low-to-moderate income housing and 25 units of workforce housing. McCormack Baron Salazar plans to reduce the amount of market rate housing originally planned. 50,000 square feet of commercial space are slated for the next phases as well.

Dynamo House was planned to be the home of the long delayed Heritage Harbor Museum as well as a luxury hotel property and office space in the former South Street Power Plant along the Providence River.

It seems there is commitment, and least from McCormack Baron Salazar, to move forward with at least some plans for ALCO. The Dynamo House situation is frustrating. With Route 195 coming down, the waterfront between downtown and the Davol Square area will open up, and the Dynamo House could be the anchor of a vibrant waterfront district for Providence. Struever told PBN that the Dynamo House is on hold while the company tries to secure financing for it, but that SBE&R is committed to the project. I won’t be holding my breath, but I really do hope that the project can move forward either with SBE&R or through someone else.

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