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Providence receives HUD grant to improve transit on high ridership bus routes

Broad Street

Image from Google Street View

Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities Project

The City of Providence has been awarded a Community Planning Challenge Grant through HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities to conduct the Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities study. The project will focus on the highest ridership bus routes in the city– Broad Street, Chalkstone Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Manton Avenue, and North Main Street. Over the next 18 months, the City and RIPTA will be working together to conduct corridor studies to improve transit service, enhance bus stops and other pedestrian amenities, and encourage the development of mixed-income housing and opportunities for jobs and the arts near transit. Once the corridor studies are complete, the City will update and revise the Providence Zoning Ordinance so that it will be an effective tool to implement the corridor plans and the City’s overall livability and sustainability goals.

Project Goals

  • Provide frequent, reliable transit service.
  • Improve access to employment centers, arts and cultural opportunities, and healthy food choices.
  • Encourage development that is concentrated around transit stops and offers a range of housing choices serving a variety of household types and income levels.
  • Encourage the creation of community hubs, unique to the character of the neighborhoods where they are located.

More information at ProvidenceRI.com

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What Cheer/What Jeer 2011

We’re taking a look back at 2011. What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheer195 Demolition

You guys all know there are like a dozen cities all over the country that are insanely jealous that we tore down our downtown expressway, right?

Putting aside what happens with the 195 Commission (we’ll talk about that in a minute), it is so totally awesome that the highway is gone. Even without any development happening yet, the Jewelry District has been transformed. Suddenly, with the highway gone, people realize the Jewelry District is on the edge of Downcity. And while the sidewalks aren’t exactly jammed, it is certainly noticeable how many people now choose to walk between Downcity and the Jewelry District, who would not before.

Chestnut Street

Route 195 being torn down at Chestnut Street in the Jewelry District

whatcheerBroadway Bike Lanes / Gano Street Sharrows

Anticipated since at least 2008, bike lanes finally showed up on Broadway in 2011.

We also saw the city’s first sharrows show up on Gano and other streets, helping to connect the East Bay and Blackstone bike paths.

Let’s hope we see more bike infrastructure sprouting up on streets all over town in 2012.

whatcheer35 Weybosset Façade

It is going to mean a parking lot, but a parking lot was in the cards all along, we’ve saved the façade for future use and that is going to greatly blunt the impact of the parking lot.

Thanks to the Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and all others involved in saving the façade.

35 weybosset rendered

Image: © Chad Gowey 2010. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading →

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Elmwood Avenue Enhancement Report

From Community Works Rhode Island comes the Elmwood Avenue Enhancement Report . RIDOT has been planning for the rebuilding of Elmwood Avenue, and their proposals were typical RIDOT move as many cars as possible in the least amount of time designs. Community Works and others got out ahead of RIDOT and asked the community what they wanted and came up with this report which incorporates many Complete Streets paradigms and takes into account not just the automobile traffic, but pedestrians, cyclists, school children, open space, and the needs of the residents of the neighborhood.

From Community Works:

As many of you are aware, Community Works Rhode Island has been working with neighbors, elected officials and RIDOT for several years to make sure that the upcoming re-pavement of Elmwood Avenue meets the needs of this community. Starting in 2005, we held numerous public design meetings to create neighborhood-based recommendations for improving Elmwood as our neighborhood main street and historic Avenue. Through our meetings, it became clear that the neighborhood priorities are to make the Avenue a safer place to walk and bike, a more appealing place to do business, and a greener, more accessible route to Roger Williams Park, including “bringing the elms back to Elmwood.”

After much work by our elected officials, especially Senator Juan Pichardo, many neighbors and local organizations and our landscape design consultant L+A Landscape Architecture, we are pleased to release the final report of recommendations that was created out of this lengthy process. This report was delivered to RIDOT this week. Community Works Rhode Island will continue to advocate for the recommendations of the report as RIDOT moves forward with their design process for the Avenue, and asks for your support in distributing the report to the larger community and advocating for the recommendations.

Community Works Rhode Island thanks all of you who participated in the process over the years, and looks forward to continuing to work together to transform Elmwood Avenue.

The report looks at the street as a whole, but divides it into seperate areas with different needs. The southern end is the “Bikeway to the Park” with seperated bike lanes and enhancements to the roadway to slow highspeed traffic and allow for a better environment for cyclists and pedestrians, with an emphasis on making a pleasant experience for people heading to Roger Williams Park.

In the area around the Knight Library and Gilbert Stewart Middle School there is a “Hyper Zone” which makes large scale interventions to slow traffic and increase the safety of children in the area. Techniques such as raised cosswalks, textured pavement, and corner bump outs are recommended.

A pedestrianization scheme is recommended for Columbus Square (the area where Reservoir Avenue splits off Elmwood). Northbound traffic on Reservoir would be diverted to Adelaide Avenue making a right angle intersection with Elmwood instead of the highspeed race to make the green light and merge which happens now (we’ve all done it). Atlantic Avenue, immediately south of the triangular park, would be closed to traffic and pedestrianized, making the park connect to the block to the south and having it now function as a usable public space, and not as a glorified traffic island as it is now. Other pedestrian enhancements are recommended.

As is the case in Olneyville, Elmwood and South Elmwood are neighborhoods with a low level of car ownership and a high level of transit use. The current configuration of Columbus Square is all about the car and even the retail in the area is auto oriented, if not shops that sell things for cars, or sell actual cars, they are shops set back from the street with massive parking lots not at all catering to the many people in the community who arrive on foot. A better pedestrianized Columbus Square will encourage retails to cater to pedestrians and will attract new development that is suitable to the neighborhood.

I encourage you to download the full report and review it for yourself. It is a good template for other street redesigns in the city. If you support the report’s recommendations, especially if you live in the study area, be sure to contact RIDOT and let them know.

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Providence Tomorrow: Washington Park & South Elmwood Neighborhood Charrettes

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The Providence Planning Department has announced the first in a series of neighborhood charrettes that will be taking place around the city as part of the Providence Tomorrow planning process.

The charrettes will be taking place at the Washington Park Community Center, 42 Jillson Street on the follow dates and times.

March 22 through March 28, 2007

Kickoff/Open House
Thursday, March 22, 2007 – 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Stop by to say hello and learn more about the neighborhood planning process!

What is the future of your neighborhood?
Saturday, March 24, 2007 – 8:30am to 12:00pm or 1:00pm to 4:30pm
Come spend a few hours telling us what you want the future of your neighborhoods to be. Give us your vision! Come in the morning or the afternoon, the sessions are the same! Childcare will be provided for children between the ages of 3 and 10.

Elected Officials Forum
Monday, March 26, 2007 – 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Tell Mayor Cicilline and your councilmen your ideas about your neighborhoods!

Neighborhood Plan Progress
Monday, March 26, 2007 – 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Check out what’s been done so far. Let us know if we’re on the right track!

Public Works Session
Tuesday, March 27, 2007 – 6:30pm to 9:00pm
Details to be announced soon!

Wrap up party and plan presentation!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 – 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Come see what we’ve accomplished! Bring the family for food, entertainment, and fun!

Thank you for helping us to spread the word. We look forward to seeing you and the members of your community at our Charrette. If you have any questions about the comprehensive plan or the planning process, please contact Linda Painter, Deputy Director of Planning at 351-4300 ext. 515 or email.

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