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RIBike: Meetings with RIDOT

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We had two meetings last week with Deputy Director of RIDOT, Pete Garino. One was a roundtable with a number of other advocates for biking & transit, one was one-on-one. There are changes afoot at RIDOT, and we wanted to let you know what’s going on.

First of all, the basic idea the new RIDOT leadership is pushing in its 10-year RhodeWorks proposal is to raise extra money through truck tolls to aggressively repair the state’s structurally-deficient bridges and get us out of the “death spiral” of nothing but emergency repairs. With public infrastructure, it’s often the case that doing proactive maintenance & repairs saves boatloads of money in the longer run, and RIDOT wants to do that.

But what about bikes? In the administration’s proposed breakdown of funding in the RhodeWorks proposal, there is $128 million for bike/ped infrastructure over the next 10 years, which is about 3x more than we’re getting currently. In addition to keeping that funding in there, we’ve been clear with DOT that when they’re resurfacing roads and bridges, they should stripe bike lanes wherever appropriate. To focus that process, we are eager to work with Statewide Planning, DOT, DEM, and local governments to ensure that good bike plans are in place so that DOT knows where to put bike lanes.

Visit the link to read RIBike’s extensive notes on various transportation projects.

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ProJo: DOT seeks permission to move RIPTA commuter lot in North Kingstown

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Image from Google Streetview

RIDOT is still discussing merging the RIPTA park and ride at Routes 2 and 102 with the parking facility at Wickford Junction MBTA station, a mile away.

“The property’s highest and best use is not as a parking lot,” said Paul Carcieri, the DOT’s real estate specialist. “It’s a very valuable property.”

Approximately $1.9 million dollars valuable.

Committee members are concerned about whether moving the Park-n-Ride roughly a mile to Wickford Junction would make it less convenient to RIPTA users, whether bus riders who park at the MBTA garage would be guaranteed free parking as they get now and whether the garage operator would keep the facility open as needed by RIPTA users — on weekends, for instance.

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James Kennedy: Why Routes 6/10 should be redeveloped as a surface boulevard

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Overpass on 6/10 Connector inbound. Photo from RIDOT

This post originally appeared on Transport Providence and is reposted with persmission of the author.

My Letter to City Council

To Honorable Councilpersons Aponte, Hassett, Matos, Principe, and Jennings,

I would like to bring a proposal for Rt. 6/10 to your attention. My proposal was #10 on RI NPR’s “Things to Know in Rhode Island” this week, and I hope I can get Council’s attention to discuss it.

The Rt. 6/10 Connector would be best redeveloped as a surface boulevard. The RIDOT proposal for bus lanes is what I call “transit oriented decoration” rather than “transit oriented development” because the bus lanes would remain on a raised or sunken highway, which would mean that meaningful transit service would pass over your wards.

It’s important to have some kind of “express” service for buses, but what makes buses successful is ridership, which allows frequency. We can only get ridership if we allow the dense neighborhoods that 6/10 passes through to get full service, and that means fostering a healthy pedestrian environment with development around the route. A surface boulevard will do that, and a limited-access highway will not.

Bus lanes without a meaningful ridership base and walkable environment will be as unsuccessful as the Wickford Junction Station was, and for the same reasons.

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Barry Schiller: Rhode Works – $4.8 Billion for Rhode Island Transportation

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The crumbling Warren Avenue bridge in East Providence was recently replace. Image from RIDOT

Barry Schiller, a retired Rhode Island College math professor, is a long-time member of the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee. He also was on the RIPTA Board of Directors 1995-1999.

What is your 10 year vision for transportation in Rhode Island? The Governor and her new RIDOT leaders propose their answer on the home page of the RIDOT website where there is a link to a 10 year $4.8 billion transportation plan called “Rhode Works.” This is about $1.1 billion more than current funding levels. A $700 million revenue bond is proposed for funding “replacement, reconstruction, and maintenance” of state bridges, the bond to be paid back by tolls on large commercial trucks crossing some bridges on Routes 95, 195, 295, 146, and 6/10. $400 million is set aside for the Route 6/10 bridges. There is a goal to reduce the percentage of our deficient bridges from about 22% to 10%. There will be a hearing on the proposed tolls at House Finance on Tuesday evening June 2.

Another $400 million to fund Rhode Works is from seeking $400 million in federal “New Start” transit funds. Rhode Works promises a “new commitment to provide increased bus and rail services.” The only specific transit project mentioned is an express bus lane on Routes 6/10. Rhode Works also promises “funding for bike lanes and accessible sidewalks.” There is no mention of bike paths.

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ProJo: ‘Linear park’ on Washington Bridge to open in June

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If you were thinking that, come the first warm sunny spring day, you’d hop on your bike and check out the new “linear park” on the Washington Bridge — or even that you’d commute to work over it — think again.

Already behind schedule last fall, the projected completion of the span linking the East Bay Bike Path to Providence’s India Point Park has been pushed back until June, according to Rose Amoros, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

You can blame the cold, snowy winter for the further delays, Amoros said.

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ProJo: State seeks contractor to evaluate possible consolidation of R.I. transportation agencies

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RIDOT work on the Providence Viaduct, March 2014

Is there a new transportation super-agency in Rhode Island’s future? Perhaps.

On March 25, the new Raimondo administration quietly opened bids for a contract to provide “Transportation Management Assessment and Review Services.”

Among the stated “goals of this investigation”: to take a step-back look at the effectiveness of having multiple state agencies operate different pieces of Rhode Island’s transportation network, from the ports and airports, to the RIPTA bus routes and road-builders.

It would be very helpful if RIDOT and RIPTA were more integrated on projects; if there was always a mass transit person at the table when RIDOT work was being planned. It is a little worrying that RIPTA could be merged with an agency that still has not proven that it can move beyond car-first thinking when it comes to transportation.

It is not just RIPTA and RIDOT though, airport manangement, port management, and Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (which controls our bridges and tolls) could all be merged into a larger transportation agency.

It all comes down to how it is structured of course. It will be interesting to see what the conclusions of the review are.

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Providence Station Plaza improvement work commences

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RIDOT has begun work at Providence Station. This is improvements to the existing station area, the bus proposed bus terminal that had bond money approved for by voters last November is still in planning and development.

From RIDOT:


RIDOT Begins Work on Providence Station Improvement Project

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) started work this week to upgrade the southern entrance plaza (downtown side) of Providence Station. Through a $6.9 million contract with J.H. Lynch & Sons, planned improvements will enhance circulation for all users of the station as well as create an inviting civic space. Pedestrian enhancements will also be made along Gaspee Street, and damaged concrete and limestone areas on the building’s plaza will be repaired. Other planned improvements include adding amenities for bicyclists, updating signage, and landscaping.

This work, which will be broken out into two phases, will require temporary restrictions, including a closure of the top level of the parking garage, a relocation of the taxi stands, and a closure of portions of Railroad Street and Park Row West. Project completion is scheduled for spring 2016.

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House and Senate Committees to consider bills mandating bridge sidewalk snow removal

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Route 95 clear after Blizzard of 2015, Broadway Bridge sidewalks, not so much.

Committees of the Rhode Island General Assembly House and Senate will consider bills this Wednesday, March 25th, to mandate that RIDOT remove snow from roads and sidewalk under their control, including overpasses in Providence:


House Finance Committee:

House Bill No. 5349
BY Blazejewski
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO HIGHWAYS – SIDEWALKS {LC1086/1} (Requires the DOT to complete snow removal on all sidewalks located on state highway overpasses, and on all pedestrian overhead walkways under the control of the state within (24) hours after the end of a snowstorm.)


Senate:

Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee to hear bill on sidewalk snow removal

STATE HOUSE – The Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee will meet Wednesday to hear proposed legislation addressing the removal of snow from sidewalks on highway overpasses.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, at the rise of the Senate (about 4:30 p.m.) in Room 310 on the third floor of the State House.

The bill (2015-S 0195 ), sponsored by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), would require the Department of Transportation to complete snow removal on all sidewalks located on state highway overpasses, and on all pedestrian overhead walkways under the control of the state within 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm.


The public is welcome to attend and testify at these meetings, you can also contact your Represenative or Senator directly to express support.

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ProJo: R.I. DOT chief Michael Lewis resigns; Raimondo appoints former Cranston DPW director Alviti to take his place

micheal-lewis-square1Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis has resigned, and Governor Raimondo has chosen a former Cranston public works director with ties to the Laborers International Union of North America to take his place.

Late Tuesday afternon, Raimondo announced her choice of Peter Alviti as Rhode Island’s new DOT director. If he wins Senate confirmation, he will replace Lewis in the top spot in the state road and bridge building agency.

Raimondo chose Peter Garino as his top deputy. Garino has been “chief, capital programming and administration” for New Jersey Transit.

I don’t know anything about Alviti, but I was hoping the Governor would look for someone forward thinking from out-of-state. Color me unimpressed by having a former DPW director from Cranston running the state transportation agency.

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Déjà vu

I’m pretty sure RIDOT sent this same exact Tweet last time we had a giant storm and I sent the exact same reply.

Also, the Mayor wants all the sidewalks clear by tomorrow afternoon, but don’t ever put any snow on the street!

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Pawtucket-Central Falls Commuter Rail Station Public Meeting – January 22, 2015

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From the Pawtucket Foundation:


You’re invited to attend a Rhode Island Department of Transportation & the City of Pawtucket/City of Central Falls Public Meeting concerning the future Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter rail station!

Thursday, January 22, 2015
Blackstone Valley Visitors Center
175 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI
Open house: 6:00PM | Presentation 6:30PM

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), The City of Pawtucket and the City of Central Falls invite members of the community to attend a meeting to learn more about a potential Pawtucket/Central Falls commuter rail station. Officials will provide an update on the project and outline next steps for the potential station, which is proposed for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Providence Line. The Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center is located at RIPTA’s Pawtucket Transit Center and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish translation services will be available at the meeting. Individuals who do not speak the English or Spanish languages or who are hearing impaired may contact RIDOT on or before January 19, 2015 to request an interpreter. Please direct interpreter requests to customerservice@dot.ri.gov or (401) 222-2450.

Si esta información es necesaria en otro idioma, llame al (401) 222-2450. Se esta informacao e nevessario emu ma outro lingua, contate por favor (401) 222-2450.

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ABC6: Driver charged in Providence pedestrian accident

walkinpvd-iconProvidence Police arrested a woman Sunday morning after she hit a pedestrian with her vehicle and fled the scene.

Tammy Moreira, 44, of Providence, was driving on Elmwood Avenue around 1:30 a.m. when she struck a pedestrian near the intersection of Elmwood and Ontario Street before fleeing the scene.

Not excusing the perpetrator, but RIDOT designed Elmwood Avenue as a highway.

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ProJo: Opening of Washington Bridge bike path in Providence delayed

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Photo of construction in October 2013

The opening of a new linear park for bikers and walkers on a transformed section of the old Washington Bridge has been delayed until the end of the year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“It’s looking like in December that we’ll have it open for use, that’s what we are shooting for right now,” said DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros.

When I took the above photo, over a year ago, they were saying, “next summer.”

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RIDOT: Rhode Island’s Transit Future

One of the most crucial components of a healthy economy and quality of place is a sound transportation system: one that supports diverse modes of travel and seamlessly connects Rhode Island to the rest of the world – and Rhode Islanders, more meaningfully to each other and to opportunity.

Since I’m a big geek I watch videos like this and visit websites extolling the virtues of various transit systems around the world and I think to my self, ‘our system really sucks.’

Then I see a shiny video showcasing our system and I wonder if all those other cities just have really good videographers hiding the suckitude of their systems.

I think it is half and half; half our system sucks compared to others, and half other systems suck too but are good at publicity. Look at how the Interlink is described in that video, it sounds good, but it is not really there yet. There are a number of factors why, there’s really no there there at Warwick Station, it is not really a destination other than the airport (regardless of what this video is trying to sell us about the area). Rhode Islanders really still love their cars. There’s a chicken and egg about not enough riders so not enough service and not enough service so not enough riders, etc.

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Yes On 6

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News & Notes

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Eddy Street in Providence. Image from Google Street View.

CityLab: Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now

Unfortunately, trained to expect this sort of behavior, highway engineers apply the same logic to the design of city streets, where people behave in an entirely different way. On city streets, most drivers ignore posted speed limits, and instead drive the speed at which they feel safe. That speed is set by the cues provided by the environment. Are there other cars near me? Is an intersection approaching? Can I see around that corner? Are there trees and buildings near the road? Are there people walking or biking nearby? And: How wide is my lane?

When lanes are built too wide, pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.
All of these factors matter, and others, too. The simplest one to discuss, and probably the most impactful, is lane width. When lanes are built too wide, many bad things happen. In a sentence: pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.

As with most other State and County road departments across the country, RIDOT mostly insists that all roads should strive for 12′ lanes and the Providence DPW does not much disagree.


BuzzFeed News: The Hidden Reason Why Rent Is So Expensive In Cities: Parking Spaces

While many factors contribute to drive up the price of rents, parking is among the most significant, according to University of California Los Angeles professor and renowned parking guru Donald Shoup. BuzzFeed News sat down with Shoup during the CityLab 2014 conference in Los Angeles Monday to talk about how parking makes housing more expensive. His point: “It’s unfair to have cities where parking is free for cars and housing is expensive for people.”


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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – September 15, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on MONDAY, September 15, 2014, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

  1. Welcome by Chairperson: Chairperson Colin Kane.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings Held on August 18, 2014.
  3. Executive Director’s Report – Review of Activities During Past Month and Business Plan for the Period September – December 2014.
  4. Presentation of District Audit by LGCD, District Auditor, and Vote Regarding Acceptance of Audit.
  5. Update from Jones Lang LaSalle on Market Conditions and Strategies for October 15, 2014 RFI Submission Date.
  6. Update from DOT Director Lewis on Work Progress on I-195 Surplus Land.
  7. Discussion and Review of Draft Parks Maintenance and Management Budget.
  8. Discussion and Vote on Allocation of Funds from the EPA Grant to the District.
  9. Update from Counsel Regarding District Permitting Process and Legal Issues Subcommittee.
  10. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  11. Review of Status of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  12. III. Public Session

  13. Chairman’s Report – Review of Activities in Past Month and Proposed Future Activities/ Tentative Agenda for October 20, 2014 Meeting.
  14. Vote to Adjourn.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – August 20, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
August 20, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
  • 4:35 – Katie Goodrum, Congress for the New Urbanism – CNU and impacts on bike/ped in Providence
  • 4:55 – Sidewalk access during construction – Continued discussion
  • 5:10 – Road and sidewalk conditions in the Wickenden/South Main area – RIDOT communication
  • 5:20 – Butler Ave. at Waterman and S. Angell signal timing
  • 5:25 – Roadwork Report, Nate Urso, Providence DPW
  • 5:40 – James Kennedy, Providence (Park)ing Day
  • 5:55 – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program – Providence proposal update (staff)
  • 6:00 – Adjourn

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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