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Providence Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – November 6, 2017

Providence Downtown Design Review Committee Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, November 6, 2017 – 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building – 444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of June 12th, July 10th, August 7th, September 11th and October 2, 2017

Old Business

1. DRC Application No. 17.40: Washington Place (Providence Washington Insurance Company Building) – Proposal by the Rhode Island School of Design to construct a new one-story addition on the Steeple Street (north) elevation, and to conduct exterior alterations on the south and east elevations.

Pre-Application Review

2. Downtown Transit Connector (DTC) – Shelter Design – Proposal by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to install ten (10) new bus shelters as part of the DTC project.

Adjournment

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Barry Schiller: It’s time to re-assess that proposed train station bus hub

Do you remember that in 2014 Rhode Islanders approved a vaguely worded $35 million bus hub transit bond? However, at this point, with that much money at stake, I think our state should re-examine the need for the proposed Providence train station area bus hub.

A news report indicated no Boston area developers were interested in leveraging the voter-approved bond money for a public-private partnership in the train station area. I suspect state leaders support for the bus hub project was predicated on drawing that investment, and so maybe now they are less interested. Recall the hub was a Chafee administration initiative that Raimondo, RIDOT Director Alviti, RIPTA Board Chair Kezirian, etc. inherited so they may not be all that committed to implement it. Further, now that it has apparently been deemed too expensive to build over the railroad tracks, the alternative of taking some of the State House lawn has engendered opposition from historic interests and maybe the Capital Center Commission too. In addition there are concerns the roads in the area are already often congested and adding many more buses can make it worse.

However, downtown interests may still want to eliminate or reduce the buses (and the low income people it transports) in Kennedy Plaza and hope a train station bus hub will be an alternative. They seem to have the ear of the Mayor who never much seemed interested in bus transit. Unions and contractors will also tend to favor spending the money on a new bus hub, for the construction jobs.

Though needs of the homeless and downtown business owners are both important, they are secondary to the interests of taxpayers who approved the money for transportation. Bus and rail passengers have nothing to gain from building a new bus hub at the train station. The relatively few transferring to/from trains already have 5 bus lines (50, 55, 56, 57, and R) to connect them to Kennedy Plaza and the bus network, plus a place to wait indoors get information, access to bathrooms, even coffee, at an intermodal facility called the “train station.” We don’t need another building, or to add un-needed buses to the already congested area.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – October 18, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission
October 18, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of September 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. Canal Street Improvements – College Hill, Downtown – Ward 12 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has presented plans to the City for improvements to Canal Street between Smith Street and Washington Street. These plans resulted from the Canal Street Road Safety Assessment previously reviewed by the BPAC at its February 2017 meeting. The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding these changes. This is the second time this project comes before the BPAC, and if approved, the improvements would be implemented in 2018.
  4. Downtown Transit Connector Public Hearing – Downtown, Upper South Providence – Wards 1, 11, and 12 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will present 30% designs for the Downtown Transit Connector project along Exchange Street, Washington Street, Dorrance Street, Dyer Street, and Eddy Street. Improvements include the conversion of some on-street parking to bus-only lanes. In addition to normal BPAC discussion, this will serve as a public hearing regarding the potential removal of parking from portions of the street. This is the second time this project comes before the BPAC, and if approved, the improvements would be implemented in 2018.
  5. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  6. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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WPRI: Bike-share service coming to Providence

Image from Social Bicycles’ blog

City Councilman Bryan Principe, who represents Ward 13, will introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s council meeting that would authorize the Elorza administration to enter into a five-year $400,000 contract with Social Bicycles, a well-known company that will oversee the “implementation, management, and operation” of the bike-share service.

[…]

The bikes will be located at 40 stations near the Downtown Transit Connector, which will run from Capital Center through downtown to the Rhode Island Hospital area. Other stations will be placed in Fox Point, College Hill and portions of the West End and Federal Hill, according to the RFP.

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Providence Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – October 2, 2017

Providence Downtown Design Review Committee – Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, October 2, 2017 – 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of June 12, 2017, July 10, 2017, August 7, 2017 and September 11, 2017

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 17.38: 259 Weybosset Street (Commercial Structure) – Proposal by Weybosset, LLC to modify the existing storefronts and to create new window openings on the Snow Street (west) elevation.

2. DRC Application No. 17.40: Washington Place (Providence Washington Insurance Company Building) – Proposal by the Rhode Island School of Design to construct a new one-story addition on the Steeple Street (north) elevation, and to conduct exterior alterations on the south and east elevations.

Pre-Application Review

3. Downtown Transit Connector (DTC) ? Shelter Design – Proposal by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to install ten (10) new bus shelters as part of the DTC project. This item is to discuss the new shelter design only. No action will be taken by the DRC at this meeting.

Adjournment

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RIPTA open house on proposed Downtown Providence service changes – September 11, 2017

Kennedy Plaza, Image from RIPTA.

Press Release from RIPTA:


RIPTA to Hold Open House to Discuss Future Changes to Improve Downtown Providence Bus Service

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is considering changes to improve bus service in downtown Providence and is inviting the public to provide input. Future service changes are being planned in order to maximize opportunities that will be created by upcoming capital investments including the Downtown Transit Connector (DTC) and the Providence Intermodal Transportation Center (PITC). RIPTA is hosting an open house on Monday, September 11, 2017, 4:30PM – 6:00PM at the Providence Foundation, 30 Exchange Terrace, Providence. The public is welcome to drop in anytime during this session.

RIPTA is considering service options that will best serve passengers who live and work in greater downtown Providence, including areas such as Capital Center, the Jewelry District and the Hospital District. Some of the improvements the transit authority is considering include:

  • More direct service to more locations, which will reduce the number of transfers needed by passengers.
  • Reduction of travel times in key areas.
  • Less reliance on Kennedy Plaza as a primary location for transit connections.
  • Expanding more routes to the Providence Amtrak Train Station to provide more direct bus-rail connections.
  • Making transit more “user friendly” to downtown residents and workers through the creation of a high frequency transit corridor from the Train Station to Rhode Island Hospital.
  • Maximizing customer convenience at Kennedy Plaza to support the City’s vision to consolidate bus travel on Washington Street, making it a two-way, transit-only road.
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PBN: The state’s 2012 bet on commuter-rail service has yet to pay off. Is it time to privatize?

Wickford Junction Station, image from RIDOT.

“We started a few months ago, doing a deep dive looking into what the MBTA can do, what it can’t do and why,” [RIDOT Director Peter] Alviti said. “Peak periods [are] quite a challenge for them to be able to give us more frequency during rush hours.”

The constriction relates to the design of the MBTA hub at South Station in Boston, according to Devine. It becomes a choke point during rush hours. “Without an expansion in additional capacity and trackage there, it really limits increasing the trains [to Rhode Island], particularly in the peak period,” he said.

Taking over the services themselves, however, would allow RIDOT to contract out the operations to a company that only has to cycle between Wickford Junction and Providence, and which might allow for future expansion.

The article goes on to discuss the need to add housing to the stop at Wickford Junction to provide a built-in client base for the service (true TOD, not a Home Depot and a Walmart) and also the potential for service to Quonset, which is an expanding jobs center.

We’re not going to tear down the $40 million station at Wickford Junction, so how do we make it work?

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Intermodal Center on Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Agenda – July 11, 2017

Design Review Committee of the Capital Center Commission Special Meeting Notice
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 – 8am
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

ccc-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Waterplace Park
    Proposal to erect a storage facility adjacent to the existing pavilion.
  3. Providence Intermodal Transportation Center
    Proposal for a new transportation facility in Capital Center. For discussion only.
  4. Adjournment
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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – May 17, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
May 17, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Staff announcement regarding new BPAC member appointments (For Discussion)
  3. Approval of March 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Approval of April 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  5. “Downtown Transit Connector” – Downtown, Upper South Providence – Wards 1, 11, and 12 (For Action) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the conceptual level plans developed by RIPTA and the City for the Downtown Transit Connector—a planned high-frequency bus service that will operate between the Providence Amtrak/MBTA Station and the Hospital District in Upper South Providence. The plans include six proposed station locations, bus only lanes, pedestrian-realm improvements, and bike lanes along portions of the route. This will be a concept level review of the project scope. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  6. “Broad Street Road Safety Assessment (RSA)” – Upper South Providence, Elmwood, Lower South Providence, Washington Park – Wards 9, 10, and 11 (For Action) – The City of Providence seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the draft Broad Street Road Safety Assessment completed by VHB. The RSA includes an analysis of crashes that have occurred on Broad Street from 2009-2015 as well as proposed solutions to improve safety along the corridor. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  7. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  8. Adjournment
Full disclosure, I am a member of this Commission.
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Kennedy Plaza/Downtown Transit Connector Public Meeting – May 9, 2017

Kennedy Plaza – Image from RIPTA

From the Providence Department of Planning & Development:


Please join the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority for an update on the Downtown Transit Connector (DTC) – a planned, high-frequency transit corridor in downtown Providence – and an opportunity to provide further input on the redesign of Kennedy Plaza. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM at the Joseph Doorley Municipal Building (first floor), 444 Westminster Street, Providence.

Both RIPTA and the City of Providence are seeking public input on the planned high-frequency DTC service and Kennedy Plaza, which will be a key stop. The City is in the process of looking at options for a long-term vision for Kennedy Plaza to make it a more active, vibrant, safe, and attractive city center while also accommodating public transit. In February, the City hosted a community meeting to gather public input on the redesign of the Plaza. During the upcoming May 9th meeting, the City will again engage community members in a discussion about the remaining options for the Plaza and surrounding area.

At the same time that the City is exploring options for the Plaza, RIPTA is working to advance design and engineering of the DTC. The DTC will create six “station-like” stops on a high?frequency route between Providence Station and the Hospital District, and includes service through Kennedy Plaza. These stops will be designed to be unique and highly visible. Features will include shelters, real time bus arrival signage, bike infrastructure, and other passenger amenities to create attractive public spaces. Part of the design effort will include branding to create a specific identity for the new transit corridor.

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Jane’s Walk – May 5-7, 2017

Thirteen Citizen-Led Neighborhood Tours Planned in Providence During the Jane’s Walk Global Weekend Festival: May 5-7

Get to know some of Providence’s hidden treasures during Jane’s Walk, a global festival on the first weekend in May! Inspired by urban activist Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walk promotes urban literacy by encouraging people to get out and explore their neighborhoods. Unlike typical guided tours, these free walks are led by volunteer citizen guides who share knowledge of their own communities while inspiring participants to think, talk, and connect. Providence is now one of 209 participating cities in 41 countries across 6 continents, and we expect that number to grow!

Since 2014, hundreds of people have participated in 26 walks that have been organized in Providence. The following walks are currently scheduled for the 2017 festival weekend, with meeting locations and other details listed at: JanesWalk.org. Several more may be added over the next few weeks. Participants should wear comfortable shoes, find their leaders at their designated meeting spots, and be ready for lively discussions while on the move. Advance registration is not required except for the Friday afternoon walk focused on Rhode Island and the International Slave Trade.

Friday, May 5th:

  • Rhode Island and the International Slave Trade (led by Elon Cook): intersection of Brown and Power streets, 2:30 PM.
  • Providence at Night (led by Barbara Barnes and Jennifer Wilson): Brick Market Square at the Providence River, 7:30 PM.

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Next Stop: Making Transit Work for RI with Jarrett Walker

Last month, Grow Smart Rhode Island invited transportation expert Jarrett Walker to Providence for a transportation forum.

Jarrett Walker shares his observations about Rhode Island’s transit system, how it compares with other metros its size and offer some preliminary recommendations for shaping a system that gets more Rhode Islanders – and visitors – where they need to go when they need to get there, conveniently, quickly and affordably. We’ll hear how RIPTA and other public transit agencies are adapting to and leveraging new technologies and how some are partnering with the private sector to extend their reach or to create new transit-oriented development that helps to pay for transit improvements and operations.

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Community Conversation on the future of Kennedy Plaza – February 16, 2017

From the Mayor’s Office:


Mayor Jorge O. Elorza will be hosting a Citywide Conversation focusing on a long-term vision for Kennedy Plaza. The Mayor will provide remarks on his vision for the space and community members will be able to participate in working groups to provide thoughts, ideas, and feedback.

WHO: Mayor Elorza; Community Members
WHAT: Citywide Conversation on Long-Term Vision for Kennedy Plaza
WHERE: Joseph A Doorley Jr. Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, Providence
WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 5:00PM

Event listing on Facebook
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WPRI: RIPTA hopes new technology will increase pedestrian safety

walkinpvd-icon“Caution – bus is turning.”

That’s what pedestrians will soon hear whenever a nearby RIPTA bus begins to make a turn of more than 45 degrees. A series of strobe lights will also light up along the side of the bus.

The new technology is part of an effort by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to increase passenger and pedestrian safety.

I’m all for pedestrian safety, but I hope this system does not result in bus drivers feeling they can usurp the pedestrians’ (or cyclists’) right-of-way. When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, the bus literally yelling at said pedestrian does not override their right to be there.

“We think this is going to be particularly useful in congested areas where people may be distracted by mobile devices or just the activity around them,” she said.

I do not like this victim-blaming coming from RIPTA at all. I don’t think there is any indication that distraction on the part of pedestrians has been responsible for any recent crashes (injuries, deaths) involving buses. Quite the opposite in some cases in fact.

I also continue to see Peter Pan buses using East Approach at Kennedy Plaza, which is where Michelle Cagnon was killed this past summer. Peter Pan is not supposed to be using East Approach.

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RIPTA Downtown Transit Corridor Public Meeting – December 6, 2016

ripta-kp

From RIPTA:


RIPTA and the City of Providence to Hold Community Meeting on Downtown Transit Connector (DTC)

Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, December 6th at 5:00 pm at the Joseph Doorley Municipal Building in Providence

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) and the City of Providence are hosting a community meeting to provide an initial overview of plans for a high-frequency transit corridor in downtown Providence. The meeting is also intended to solicit ideas and public input on the project. The transit corridor will connect the Providence Amtrak/MBTA Station and the Hospital District with high-frequency bus service.

The meeting will be held from 5:00pm to 6:30pm on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, at the Joseph Doorley Municipal Building (1st Floor), located at 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

The corridor, which has the working name of the Downtown Transit Connector (DTC), will create six “station-like” stops between Providence Station and the Hospital District. These stops will be designed with a unique and highly-visible identity and will include bus shelters, real time information bus arrival signage, bike share stations and other passenger amenities. The project will strive to create attractive public spaces around each stop.

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City of Providence 6-10 Connector Draft Plan Release – October 3, 2016

planning-6-10-meeting

From the Department of Planning & Development Facebook page:


Please join us on Monday, October 3 at 6:00pm at 444 Westminster Street to review our draft plan for a better 6-10 Connector. The 6-10 Connector is an aging highway that cuts through several Providence neighborhoods and is slated for immediate replacement. Similar to the I-195 relocation, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest wisely, reconnect neighborhoods, and improve our city.

Over 250 community members attended a City-led public workshop on August 30th.

At the workshop, community members were asked to help identify goals for the project and to begin brainstorming about ideas to improve the area surrounding the 6-10 Connector. Click here to view photos of the ideas that community members presented at the event. Click here to view the presentation that was given by City staff at the meeting.

More information on Facebook

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Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – September 21, 2016

Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
September 21, 2016, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor
Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of June Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. Approval of July Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Olney Street Restriping – College Hill, Mount Hope – Wards 1 and 2 (For Action) – The Department of Public Works intends to restripe Olney Street from Camp to Hope streets. DPW seeks comment from the BPAC regarding the preliminary plans, which include bike lanes along this 0.4-mile stretch and the removal of a limited amount of underutilized on street parking on the northbound side of Olney Street between Camp and North Main streets, adjacent to the University Heights Apartment Complex.
  5. Olneyville Square Pedestrian Safety Improvements – Olneyville – Ward 15 (For Action) – ONE Neighborhood Builders is exploring the potential installation of curb extensions at the two existing RIPTA bus stops on Westminster Street in Olneyville Square and a raised pedestrian refuge at the intersection of Plainfield Street at Hartford Avenue. The City of Providence DPD seeks comment from the BPAC at this initial scoping phase of the project.
  6. Smith Street Repaving, Restriping, and Sidewalk Replacement – Smith Hill, Elmhurst – Wards 5 and 12 (For Action) – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has prepared preliminary plans for Smith Street from Lyndhurst Avenue to Holden Street. Planned improvements include pavement resurfacing, replacement of existing sidewalk and curb, ADA improvements, minor improvements to the existing drainage system, modifications to the existing signals, upgrades to the existing pedestrian facilities, and the installation of new roadway signs and pavement markings. RIDOT also intends to remove existing street trees within the project limits that have caused severe sidewalk damage making sidewalks inaccessible to those who are in wheelchairs or disabled. DPW seeks comment from the BPAC regarding the preliminary plans.
  7. Fountain Street Restriping Project Update – Downtown – Ward 1 (For Discussion)
  8. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  9. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this commission.
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