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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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RIPTA Bus Stop Design Guide Public Meetings – June 9, 15, & 20, 2016

ripta-bus-stop-meeting-notice

From RIPTA:


The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is currently developing bus stop design guidelines for use by RIPTA, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, municipalities and others, when roads with RIPTA bus routes are reconstructed or otherwise improved. Your input is valuable in helping shape a “complete streets” approach that enhances transit ridership through guidelines for urban, suburban and rural bus stops.

Three (3) open houses are scheduled in June to provide opportunity for input. Meetings are open to everyone from the general public, transit riders, municipal planning, engineering and public works departments, advocacy groups, A&E consultants, business groups, and developers. Meetings will include information on potential bus stop typologies.

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ProJo: Pawtucket, Central Falls seeking rail station

pawtucket-central-falls-station

Rhode Island is making its strongest push yet for a Pawtucket commuter rail station long-sought by the city and neighboring Central Falls.

The Department of Transportation late last month applied for a $14.5-million federal grant for the project, which would be built between Dexter and Conant Streets and cost an estimated $40 million.

According to the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “TIGER” grant program, the state would contribute $3.6 million to the project and the two cities would combine to chip in another $3 million. The remaining $18.9 million would come from Rhode Island’s annual appropriation of federal transportation dollars.


The station could be completed as soon as late summer 2019, more likely early 2020.

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Public workshops on the 6/10 interchange hosted by RIDOT

route-6-10-label

Press Release from RIDOT:


RIDOT Announces Public Workshops for 6-10 Interchange Design Options

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced a series of public workshops for the reconstruction of the 6-10 interchange as part of a process to reimagine this important transportation infrastructure.

The Route 6-10 Interchange Project has road and bridge elements that have been in design for approximately 30 years. Within the project limits there are seven structurally deficient bridges that need to be addressed immediately. The project, which is of regional significance, consists of addressing structurally deficient bridges and reconfiguring the interchange to accommodate local and regional travel for commuters and businesses.

The Department is committed to meet an April 14 deadline for submission to the Federal Highway Administration’s recently announced FASTLANE grant program. The program, announced on February 26, makes $800 million available for projects of national or regional significance. RIDOT is applying for a $150 million grant for this project.

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ProJo: R.I. begins moving on RIPTA bus hub project at Providence Amtrak Station

Rhode Island officials have taken the first small step toward building a multimillion-dollar bus hub at the Providence Amtrak Station, potentially as part of a larger real estate project with a private developer.

On Monday, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board approved hiring Chicago-based real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle to talk to developers, promote the project and help put together bid documents to seek private investment.

[…]

A memo from Commerce Corporation Senior Project Manager Michael Walker given to the Commerce board described Jones Lang Lasalle’s task as: “…to assist with the outreach to the developer community to identify and promote the development opportunity, structure the data requirements that a successful solicitation will require in order to be favorably received by developers, and to draft the Request for Proposals that [the Department of Transportation] will issue to solicit the private investment in this first-of-a kind transit project in Rhode Island.”

I’m all about public/private partnerships, the land around the station is far too valuable to be just a bus station. And bringing in a private developer to team up on this project is the definition of Transit Oriented Development. But boy do I fear concessions to the developer whittling away at the benefits to transit riders that this project could realize.

Please oh please Rhode Island, don’t f*ck it up!

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ProJo: 6-10 rapid transit plan would draw nearly 4,000 riders, report says

olneyville sq

Olneyville before the construction of the 6/10 Connector

In the report released Jan. 22, VHB estimated that between 7,000 and 9,000 people use mass transit to reach downtown Providence from an area south and west of the city and could utilize a 6-10 transit line. The higher end of the estimate, 9,193, came from adding the passengers of 13 current Rhode Island Public Transit Authority lines and the 7,014 figure came from extrapolated census figures.

[…]

The additional 3,500 to 4,000 riders VHB estimates would use a new transit line on Routes 6 and 10 was determined by taking these numbers and adding “several percentage points” of higher transit usage to the population within the catchment area.


That all sounds rather, take a guess from this column and take a guess from that column, but OK. It seems like RIPTA needs some input on this. Do existing lines from the south and west get re-routed? Does that allow for better time into the City? Does that attract more ridership? Is there a demand for riders from the south to reach Olneyville without making a transfer in Kennedy Plaza and vice-versa..?


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ProJo: RIPTA turns focus to expansion near Rhode Island Hospital

ri-hospital-aerial

Rhode Island Hospital area. Image from Bing Maps

Although RIPTA still expects to create a bus stop or stops at Garrahy, transit planners don’t envision a “hub” or terminal there and actually see more potential for expansion farther south, near Rhode Island Hospital.

“Rhode Island Hospital is a huge ridership area for us,” said Amy Pettine, RIPTA’s executive director of planning. “Garrahy emerged as an opportunity, but with the hospital as a key anchor, we will probably need something further south.”

RIPTA is working with the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, which is building the Garrahy garage, on determining what kind of mass transit presence makes sense, from a regular stop, to a “super stop” with passenger amenities and a place for drivers to take a break.


We need to consider the 195 Land and the Jewelry District as part of downtown. Operationally, I think it could work out better to have hubs on the periphery of downtown (Train Station Hub and Hospital Hub) rather than one on the edge and one kind of in the middle (Garrahy Garage). Hubs on the edge with routes from north and south converging at them allows for through-routing buses on narrowly defined corridors through downtown, creating corridors with high-frequency service.

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Projo: Providence abandons streetcar plan for new bus line

pvd-streetcar-kennedy-plaza

Dogged by cost and ridership concerns since it was first proposed nearly 10 years ago by then-Mayor David Cicilline, the proposed streetcar has been abandoned in favor of an “enhanced bus” line along the same route, Providence Planning Director Bonnie Nickerson confirmed Wednesday.

[…]

In a list of future projects the city wants added to the state’s upcoming 10-year transportation plan, the Providence Enhanced Bus Circulator is estimated to cost $20 million.

The proposal asks for $7 million from the state to build the new bus line and uses a $13-million federal grant awarded for the streetcar in 2014 to cover the rest.

[…]

The enhanced bus plan would keep the streetcar’s most recent route: from the Providence train station through downtown and the Jewelry District to Rhode Island Hospital.


I’m sure I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about this which I have neither the time nor the energy to think about right now. However, I wanted to provide a place for others to discuss, one thing to consider when assessing this change in planning is what Providence is asking for in the TIP.

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