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Hey New England: It is gonna snow again

yellow-jacket-snow-westminster

A Yellow Jacket clearing snow Downcity. January 21, 2012.

Have you lived in New England for more than a year or so? Remember how last year it snowed, and the year before that it snowed, and for 10,000 years before that it snowed? Well, get ready, all the weather people seem to agree, it is going to snow again Saturday.

So, you might want to remember how to deal with it. The City luckily, has you covered.


When snow season arrives, City crews, residents and businesses need to work together to manage challenging winter weather conditions.

The Providence Public Works Department is responsible for clearing snow and ice on more than 421 miles of City-maintained roads in the City of Providence.

City of Providence Snow Facts

  • Over 130 pieces of equipment are available for every storm, including plows, tractors, snow blowers, graders, loaders and pickup trucks.
  • Materials and equipment are housed at one central location in Providence.
  • Public Works replenishes supplies after every storm.

How We Plow

  1. The first priority for city crews during and immediately after a snowfall is to clear priority roads, including major arterial streets, bus routes, bus stops, and roads that access fire stations and hospitals.
  2. The second priority is to clear collector streets and routes leading to schools.
  3. Once conditions have been stabilized on first- and second-priority routes, crews will begin to clear local streets. Local streets are not plowed immediately during a snow event. In the event of continual snowfall, it may take longer than usual for plows to reach local streets as first- and second-priority streets will require additional attention.
Also, don’t forget to share you snow photos in our Flickr Group, we might share them here on the site.

What are your legal requirements as a citizen of Providence when it comes to snow removal?

Sec. 23-13. – Removal of snow — Required.

All owners, occupants or persons, having care of any building or lot bordering upon any street, highway or public place within the city, shall, within the first eight (8) hours of daylight after the end of any snowfall, or the fall or deposit of snow on the sidewalk of said building or lot from any cause whatsoever:

  1. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from a path not less than three (3) feet in width of the entire border in or on said street, highway, or public place;
  2. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from around any fire hydrant on the sidewalk in front of said building or lot;
  3. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from the opening of any catch basin in the sidewalk of said building or lot;
  4. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from pedestrian-access ramps cut into street curbs bordering said building or lot;

Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00). The enforcement of the above shall be done by the city police department and/or an inspector or supervisor of the city public works department. Failure to pay the fine within thirty (30) days will result in the creation of a special lien against the said lot(s), which lien shall be removed only upon payment of the fine plus an administrative penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00). The imposition of such fine and other charges may be appealed to municipal court within ten (10) days of the issuance of a written citation.

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UCAP School expansion

The expansion of the UCAP School on Broadway is on the City Plan Commission Agenda for this afternoon. I requested a copy of the Staff Report and it looks like a pretty good project.

ucap-service-road

Service Road facade. Click image to enlarge.

Of course, the devil as always is in the details, with this type of rendering it is difficult to tell what the materials are. However, at first look it is nice, doesn’t make one recoil in horror. There’s a short list of nitpicks as always: A rather blank wall along the Service Road. I won’t go on about saving the Engle Tire Building, but it is always annoying to not have a net gain on the vacant lot scoreboard. I’d prefer to see taller buildings along the Service Road, but there is still plenty of developable space.

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Regarding the weed ordinance and enforcement

WPRI reports on City Councilman Michael Correia’s proposal to fine homeowners for unruly weeds on their property. The ordinance would impose a $25 fine per day on homeowners who have weeds or grass on their property exceeding 8 inches in height.

While there is a neighborhood beautification component to the proposal, as the WPRI video above shows, it is also a safety concern. As I’m sure you’re all aware, we have another ordinance which addresses a safety concern, snow shoveling.

WPRI reports: “The Department of Public Works would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance.” Great, DPW is also responsible for enforcing snow removal. How is that working out? The City admitted this to the Providence Journal way back in 2010 regarding snow removal:

Peter T. Gaynor, city director of emergency management, acknowledged, however, that the DPW is not yet ready to discharge its new duty. For the time being, he said, it’s still up to the police.

Before we pass another toothless ordinance, let us figure out who is going to enforce it and ensure they have the resources to do so.

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City Council moves to politicize proposed roads bond

dean-street-2009

Dean Street re-construction in 2009. The City of Providence proposes a $40b bond to finance repairs to 62 miles of roads and sidewalks in the City.

As reported by Ian Donnis on RINPR, the City Council is meeting tonight to put a provision in the proposed roads bond bill that would give them control over what streets and sidewalks get repaired in their Wards:

RINPR quotes Councilman Terry Hassett:

That was one of the concerns among the council members — making sure that anything that is distributed through a bond for infrastructure that the council member has a direct and specific role in terms of what streets would get done, what sidewalks, and where the emphasis should be. That was the concern.

Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv Tweets the move could result in a Mayoral veto:


Why? Because there has already been a systematic review of roadways in the city that need attention and 62 miles of roadways have been identified as the ones which will be worked on should this bond pass (I hope to see that list before I’m asked to vote on the bond). The Council argues that they know best what their Wards need. What they know best is which streets getting paved get them the most votes towards reelection.

There’s also the simple matter that the bond money should not be equally dispersed among the 15 Councilors. There are Wards that are in more need than others based on trucking, bus routes, sheer road miles, and other factors that mean they should get more or less money than other Wards.

The City has created a formula to rate roads and determine which need working on, there is no reason the Councilors need any more say over that. If they don’t agree with the formula, then address that, don’t say you get to pick and choose what needs doing under some, “trust me, I know what’s best for my Ward,” song and dance.

See also: RINPR: Providence City Hall slams council faction’s plan for allocating road repair money

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Arcade work!

ArcadeThe good news, it appears work is commencing at the Arcade. The bad news, said work is closing the sidewalk.

Of course this sidewalk closure comes just as we have hopes the sidewalk in front of the neighboring 35 Weybosset façade will finally be able to re-open. Though that project was stalled out for a bit, it seems there is renewed work happening on that site to building their parking lot (sigh) and move the façade bracing allowing the sidewalk to open.

Although it is of course great to finally see progress at the Arcade, it would be greaterer if the city had policies that accommodated pedestrians during such construction projects. You can bet your ass that auto traffic wouldn’t have been allowed to be restricted for the duration of this project. It would be simple to create a diversion for pedestrians (you know, like the guy with the backpack in the photo is doing all by himself).

Reader submitted photo of the Weybosset side of the Arcade last Friday.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – January 25, 2012

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at the offices of Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, Rhode Island, on WEDNESDAY, January 25, 2012, beginning at 2:00 p.m., for the following purposes:

Public Session

1. To approve the Public Session and Executive Session minutes of the meeting held on January 9, 2012.

2. For discussion regarding snow removal on sidewalks and other interim maintenance issues.

3. For consideration of the vision and mission statement of the District.

4. For the making of findings related to, and consideration of, the engagement of an engineering firm and ratification of the selection committee’s actions and recommendations.

Executive Session

5. To consider and act upon such matters, indicated in agenda item 4, as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to the Open Meeting Law, specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (7) (investment of public funds) of Rhode Island General Laws Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law)



Emphasis mine

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The Rant

Angelo's

Angelo’s on Atwells, a business that obviously wants customers.

I’ve been mini-ranting here and there in posts and comments, but allow me to just devote one post to this, and as we do every year, let’s talk it out.

There’s something that I really don’t understand about clearing sidewalks. I can see that some residents are selfish, shovel a path to their car and everyone else be damned. I don’t like it but I understand that some people have no civic pride or common decency, and since their is no action from the City, I understand that those people simply don’t shovel and seemingly don’t care.

What I don’t understand is businesses. What goes on in your brain when you go to your business, unlock your door, turn on the lights, and wait behind your cash register for customers, but don’t shovel? Even if 100% of your customers arrive by car (which does not happen anywhere in Providence), those people still need to get from their cars to your cash register.

Yes, civic pride and common decency may be gone, but in a massive recession simple customer service is out the window too? That photo at the top, that is Angelo’s on Atwells Avenue. That was yesterday morning, they weren’t even open yet, but their sidewalk was clear. They have civic pride obviously, but they also know, even if they are not open, their customers and potential customers are walking by, so they clear their sidewalks.

There’s a couple other businesses on the Hill that are really good at shoveling, Chef Ho’s is notable for their snow removal as well. And both Chef Ho’s and Angelo’s keep this up all year. While the rest of Federal Hill is a trash pit, Angelo’s sidewalks are always swept and clear of debris, they care for the street trees adjacent to their property, they hang lights during the holidays, plant flowers, they hose off puke…

I simply cannot wrap my brain around why more businesses don’t have Angelo’s attitude.

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Snowblogging: Twice in one week!

I am going to try to not sidewalk rant here. It is still snowing, so by right, no one is required to have their sidewalks clear, but expect a little ranting to sneak in, I can’t help myself!

I was out between noon and 1pm and did a big loop through Downcity to Waterplace and back.

Snow - January 21, 2012

Right off the bat, a little rant, I told you I can’t help myself. Well not so much a rant as a surprise; the sidewalks at Dominica Manor have not been touched today. They do not need to be per regulations, but they are usually out clearing snow all day on a day like this. Budget problems?

I didn’t take a photo, but as always, Angelo’s was clear. Someone was out shoveling and salting as I walked by.

Again, dumbfounded here, my ranting is bearing fruit. Someone (I assume the City though it is a State bridge) dumped a metric ton of salt on the Atwells Avenue Bridge sidewalks.

Snow - January 21, 2012

Of course then the plows pushed snow up on top of it. The sidewalk on the other side faired better and was actually clear, even as I walked back and the snow was getting heavier.

Snow - January 21, 2012

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Rain on top of snow equals gross

Atwells Avenue bridge over Route 95

At midnight last night I almost went out to do some honest to goodness snowblogging, it was really coming down. But come morning, it had changed to rain and most of the snow was gone. The amount of snow we got before the changeover, and the amount of rain that fell on top of it, and the temperature still hovering in the mid 30s meant that the sidewalk were a mess.

Worst kind of weather conditions for sidewalks, a thin layer of slush frozen, often indistinguishable from what is simply wet makes for a slow shuffle with arms out to help stop from falling. When I got to the Atwells Bridge, I moved into the street.

Some building owners were out salting, Dominica Manor as usual was putting a lot of salt down on their sidewalks. The Hilton, again as usual. The Public Library was just getting started on salting as I shuffled by. The newest member of the neighborhood, 38 Studios also had salt down on their sidewalks at One Empire and also salted the sidewalks past the pocket park to the Westminster Walk. I’m liking 38 Studios now!

The forecast I saw this morning had some snow showers on it for Thursday night, Friday, and next Monday, maybe we’ll finally get some honest to goodness real New England snow!

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News & Notes

Portland Aerial Tram car

Portland Aerial Tram in station. Photo (cc) kevincrumbs.

News & Notes Looking to the skies for answers: a second look at gondola transit [The Toronto Star]

[Toronto] Mayor Rob Ford seems to favour tunneling transit underground in Toronto. But a growing number of international cities, including some in Canada, are casting their eyes to the sky at an unconventional mode that’s cheaper, cleaner and quicker to build than subways and light rail.


In fringe suburbs, has economics trumped the appeal of new? [Greater Greater Washington]

The recession and the burst of the housing bubble have stopped development in many fringe suburbs. With many urban neighborhoods on the rise, some suggest that fringe suburbs are on the decline. Has simple economics surpassed the appeal of “new” in the hinterlands?


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News & Notes

Boxpark

Photo from Boxpark’s Facebook Page.

News & Notes Shipping Containers & Shopping – London’s ‘Retail Revolution’ Finally Opens [This Big City]

London’s first pop-up shopping mall has finally opened, after originally being slated for a Summer launch. Located in east London, at the intersection of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street, ‘Boxpark‘ is made entirely from reused shipping containers and has been called a ‘retail revolution’ by its owners. I paid a visit last week to see if it lives up to this ambitious statement.

Route 195 land?


The wisdom of crowds – The strange but extremely valuable science of how pedestrians behave [The Economist]

Messrs Helbing and Moussaid are at the cutting edge of a youngish field: understanding and modelling how pedestrians behave. Its purpose is not mere curiosity. Understanding pedestrian flows makes crowd events safer: knowing about the propensity of different nationalities to step in different directions could, for instance, matter to organisers of an event such as a football World Cup, where fans from various countries mingle. The odds of collisions go up if they do not share a reflex to move to one side. In a packed crowd, that could slow down lots of people.


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Dislike: Walking in the street

Photo by Andy Morris

Yes, everytime I run into someone downtown they say, “are you going to write about the sidewalks on Washington Street?”

Truth is, I’m totally avoiding Washington Street if I can help it. A bunch of things are conspiring to result in there often being no sidewalk on either side of Washington Street.

One thing is good, we like it, new sidewalks are being installed, yay! However, when work is being done on a sidewalk, there needs to be a place for people to go, either make pedestrians cross if there is no room, or block off a secion of the road.

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News & Notes

Public Seating Beyond Parks and Playgrounds [Urban Design Week]

We’ve all been there: exhausted, hot, annoyed, and just looking for a seat! With over eight million people calling New York City home, finding a place to sit outside of parks and playgrounds can be a bigger challenge than one might imagine. Megan in Clinton Hill wishes there were places to sit in public space besides in parks: free, public resting spots on every block for a coffee, lunch, and conversation. Ultimately, she wants the city to be “more free and open to all! Not limited to only people who eat at outdoor cafes, etc.”

More and more this is how I feel about Downcity. You can sit at Grant’s Lot, and you can sit at the tables at Burnside Park, that’s about it.


The 1950s Called, and They Want Their Transportation Bill Back [AltTransport]

What costs $230 billion and shortchanges pedestrian and bicycle safety and already cash-strapped urban transit systems? If you guessed the new transportation reauthorization proposal from the GOP-led House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, you’d be right.


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Sidewalk over street in Providence too

Remember a couple weeks back when I posted this photo from a Streetsblog story of a sidewalk crossing a street in Copenhagen?

Copenhagen sidewalk
Photo from Streetsblog

This is what I said I liked about it:

This Copenhagen sidewalk completely flips the script on the relationship between cars and pedestrians at intersections. Rather than there being a curb, the sidewalk ending, and pedestrians moved into the street via a crosswalk; the sidewalk continues across the road and it is the car that enters the pedestrians domain in order to move through the intersection. Why are we not making all minor side streets have this relation to the main?

Well, duh, we have at least one of these in Providence, on Westminster Street at Orange Street:

Sidewalk on Westminster Street continues right across Orange Street.

It is not quite as seemlessly sidewalk as the Copenhagen example, but observing motorists navigating it, it works the same way. Motorist get a cue that they are moving off the street and change the way they move, slowing to look for pedestrians and using more caution than if the sidewalk ended and there was only paint on the roadway for pedestrians. The fact that the sidewalk is at a higher level than the street also means that cars must slow to mount it. Meaning it acts as a sort of speed bump.

This should be firmly planted in the city’s road design bag of tricks. Imagine if all the alleys on Atwells worked this way for example; cars had to slow to cross the sidewalk rather than the other way around.

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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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