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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.

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The Christmas trees have left Weybosset Street

Weybosset Tree Wells

Late last year the City planted trees along Weybosset at PPAC Square. Including a set of little Christmas tree evergreens in the planters along the west side of Weybosset Street. Yesterday, the Christmas trees were out.

I’m told they will replanted at Bucklin Park tomorrow during an Earth Day ceremony today as part of an Arbor Day event, yay.

New permanent trees will be planted on Weybosset Street soon.

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PPAC Square: Good, bad, and ugly

The Good: Yellow Jackets

Yellow Jackets

DID Clean & Safe Team workers clearing snow

As always, the DID Clean & Safe Team workers were out in force today clearing snow. The Yellow Jackets are probably out of practice this year, but they got right back into the swing of things laying salt and clearing snow and slush out of the crosswalks.

The Bad: I didn’t know this was a parking lot

PPAC

Who do you gotta know to park here?

When plans for PPAC Square were unveiled I was under the impression that PPAC’s driveway would double as sidewalk space when there wasn’t any event happening at PPAC. Apparently I was wrong as the driveway was full of parked cars this afternoon. I don’t know who these cars belong to, but those are some sweet parking spaces they got.

The Ugly: National Grid doing their National Grid thing

National Grid

Ooh, fresh pavement, let’s rip it up!

No sooner has the paint dried on the double yellow lines than National Grid is out ripping up the pavement on Weybosset Street. This is not actually PPAC Square, it is down in front of Johnson & Wales, but close enough.

Let’s just assume that contrary to every other street National Grid has ever torn up, they will properly patch this street. I can assume that, right? RIGHT?

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Updated: Two-Way Empire and Weybosset on January 10, 2012

Variable message sign at LaSalle Square

Variable message sign at LaSalle Square

Update: Two-way traffic to begin Tuesday morning, January 10th before the AM commute. See Press Release in the comments below.

Signs are up on Weybosset and Empire Streets alerting drivers that those streets will become two-way in “January 2012.” When exactly in January, it doesn’t say.

My understanding is that the final striping and signage and such to convert the streets will be put in place on a Saturday and Sunday morning, Ta Da!, two-way streets. I can’t imagine that work will take place on New Year’s Eve, so I’m speculating we have at least another week to go.

This is of course all part of the Downtown Circulator Project which got underway in April, and was due to be completed in November, oops!

The rebuilt intersection of Weybosset, Richmond, and Mathewson Streets, aka PPAC Square, is also part of this project.

If previous plans hold true, work should begin next year on Phase 3 of the Circulator Project which will include the redesign on Emmett and LaSalle Squares, conversion of Sabin Street in front of the Convention Center to two-way traffic, and the possible two-way conversions of Exchange Terrace and Dorrance Street between Washington Street and Emmett Square.

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Trees going in at PPAC Square

Just in time for the City’s big birthday party tomorrow, trees are being planted on Weybosset Street outside PPAC.

Trees on Weybosset Street

Some nice sizable trees are going into the tree wells in the sidewalks, however…

Weybosset Christmas Trees

…these little Christmas trees are going into the giant planters along the north side of the street. I’m not too excited about those and am hoping they are temporary. They’re a pretty sad replacement for the trees that were removed for the road project.

Update 11/22/2011: The Christmas trees are temporary, see Planning’s Tweet below.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/ProvPlanning/status/138996698268712960″]
 

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Lane shift on Weybosset, students back

Weybosset Street

The lanes on Weybosset Street have shifted over to the new concrete road bed at PPAC Square. Removal of the old blacktop is underway infront of PPAC.

They are hard to see in the photo (I should hace taken a better one), but notice the new streetlights. One lamp hangs over the roadway, a lower one hangs over the sidewalk. Space above the sidewalk lamp allows for banners to be attached to the post.

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Weybosset Street/PPAC Square progress

Two weeks ago I took some photos in the PPAC Square area, then never bothered to post them. So I took some more yesterday which actually gives an opportunity to show how work is starting to come together.

PPAC Square

August 10th

One of my friends on Flickr noted that these tree well/bench dealies were body sized and this one appears to be flagged for Carol. We don’t know who Carol is, if she has already passed on, or if someone is planning ahead. If your name is Carol, watch your back.

PPAC Square

August 10th

They also make good storage for crushed barrels and random debris. My question, are these actually big enough for a healthy tree? They seem to be open at the bottom, but don’t most trees roots generally spread out, not down into a hole then out? Are we going to have large healthy shade trees in these tombs, or little decorative trees?

PPAC Square

August 23rd

I also have to wonder why? Why spend the time, energy, and money creating these bunkers when you could simply plant a tree in a hole and build a bench around it? If we didn’t build these things, wouldn’t we have more room for more mature trees?

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PPAC Square

PPAC Square

Click Image to enlarge

Today the Mayor’s Office held a press conference announcing the designation of the intersection of Weybosset and Mathewson Streets as “PPAC Square.” This is part of the larger Downtown Circulator Project.

Speakers included the Mayor, Director of Planning and Development Thom Deller, Joe Walsh the Chairman of the PPAC Board, and Laurie White of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

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Downtown Circulator Project Underway

Phase 2 of the “Downtown Providence Traffic Circulation Improvements” have begun in earnest. This morning a lane was dropped on Weybosset Street, Mathewson Street is closed between Weybosset and Chapel (through June), and a worker was out with a giant machine cutting hacking away at the sidewalks.

You might be thinking, “Phase 2, did I miss Phase 1.” Well, you might of, I did. The Circulator Project (not to be confused with the Core Connector Study) is to make more Downtown streets two-way, to make traffic flow better and the city more predictable to navigate. Phase one was the conversion of Washington Street to two-way traffic and happened some time early in the last decade.

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