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Rhode Island Assembly, Speeds Approval for Parking Garage, No Money for Commuter Rail Station

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Location of proposed Garrahy Parking Garage

In wee-hours of Saturday morning, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill to speed the construction of a parking garage in Providence, but failed to provide funding for a proposed commuter rail station in Pawtucket / Central Falls.


The Providence Journal: R.I. House passes bill to speed garage project by Providence courthouse

A bill speeding construction of a $45 million parking garage next to the Garrahy Judicial Complex downtown passed the House Friday night and is one step from clearing the General Assembly.

Requested by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to advance a planned life sciences development, the bill would eliminate a requirement that the commission reach agreements to sell three parcels of the property it controls on the former interstate highway land before the garage would be built.

[…]

Instead of requiring three purchase-and-sales agreements on the I-195 land before the garage could be built, the bill would require Wexford/CV to lease at least 400 parking spaces.

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

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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

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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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PBN: RIDOT moves up Providence River pedestrian bridge schedule

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Rendering of the planned Providence River Pedestrian Bridge

The process for building a pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides of the Providence River in the I-195 redevelopment district, will move forward this month, the R.I. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

[…]

The construction schedule, described in a recent reporting by the DOT, would have preliminary work beginning in the fall. Construction of the $13.2 million bridge project is expected to span two seasons, with completion anticipated in early 2018.


Yay!

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Bike Month!

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I posted this late and some of these events may have already happened, sorry.


May is National Bike Month and it is being celebrated here in Rhode Island. While any month is fine for enjoying this healthy, money-saving, enjoyable and environmentally superior way to travel, with the arrival of spring, its time for many of us to savor the season, often best at the speed of a bicycle. Though it is a work in progress, the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition announces the following calendar of events, note Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20. Please join us for rides and events when you can. Check for updates at ribike.org.

Pre-Ride Roadside Bike Class (Bike Newport)
May 3, 10, 17, & 24 • 5:00-7:00pm • 29 Spring St, Newport
Free this month!

Bike making noises? Chain need some TLC? Brakes just not what they used to be? Ready to repair your own flat? You can give your bike the love it wants, and it’ll love you back – we promise! Join us for a basic roadside maintenance class. Topics will include pre-ride checks, fixing flats, caring for chains, and more. Classes are free for the month of May. Ladies Nights are geared toward women, girls, and female-identified. No boys allowed on those nights!

Bike to Breakfast (Women Bike RI)
May 6, 13, 14, & 27 • 7:30am • Various locations
Free (but bring money for your meal)

In celebration of Bike Month, Women Bike RI is organizing an informal bike to breakfast meetup series. Join us at any of the below locations on Friday mornings throughout the month of May. We’ll fill up bike racks, support local businesses and help demonstrate that bicycle commuting can be fun! All Women Bike RI events are free.

Weekday breakfast rides will take place 7:30 – 8:30 am. Please email womenbikeri@gmail.com to learn more and join the group on Facebook.

Jane’s Bike of Historical Providence
May 7: • 9:00am • 24 Meeting St, Providence
$10 per person • Eventbrite

Participate in a whirlwind tour of the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Properties (MEP), hosted by RIHPHC’s Sarah Zurier and RIBike’s Executive Director, Alex Krogh-Grabbe. See some great successes, like The Whitmarsh Apartments (1913) in Elmwood, one of the first properties ever listed as a MEP. We will also visit some losses, including the Grove Street Elementary School (1901) in Federal Hill which was partially demolished in 2007 without a permit, and eventually completely leveled in 2011.

Most of our stops will be sites still in danger, like the Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House (1867) and Rhode Island Hospital’s Southwest Pavilion.

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James Kennedy: Reconnect Providence with a real 6/10 Boulevard

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This post was originally written as an Op-Ed submitted to the Providence Journal. It was originally published at Transport Providence and appears here with permission.

James Kennedy is part of the group Moving Together Providence. You can follow him on Twitter at @transportpvd.

RIDOT has dubbed its proposal for a 6/10 Connector Big Dig a “highway-boulevard hybrid”, but the 6/10 Dig is sharply at odds with the Moving Together Providence proposal for a genuine 6/10 Boulevard. Like the “cooler and warmer” scandal that has captured the public’s attention and revulsion, highway-boulevard hybrid is state-government-speak for nonsense. But the mistakes embedded in RIDOT’s 6/10 approach are orders of magnitude more expensive than the $4.5 million Reykjavik excursion, and its failure will stay with us for decades.

It’s pretty obvious why the 6/10 Connector has segregated Silver Lake, Olneyville, and the West End from each other, and not hard to understand how it made Providence’s “second downtown” its poorest neighborhood. Less obvious, but vital, is for suburbanites to understand how RIDOT’s policy fails them, and to join in a statewide movement for a genuine boulevard.

Urban highways funnel traffic and collect it into a few chokepoints, instead of allowing it to disperse naturally. Olneyville has next to no job centers that would draw outsiders, and the neighborhood itself is almost 50% car-free. But 11:30 on a Wednesday in Olneyville Square feels like let-out time for the Newport Jazz Festival. How can a place with so little economic activity and driving be so congested?

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Public workshops on the 6/10 interchange hosted by RIDOT

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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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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – March 21, 2016

I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Public Notice of Meeting
A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, Rhode Island, on MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes:

195-roundPublic Session

  1. Welcoming Remarks by Chairperson Joseph Azrack.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting held on February 15, 2016.
  3. Executive Director’s Report.
  4. Presentation by Robert Azar, City of Providence Department of Planning, regarding proposed Royal Oaks project on Parcel 8; vote regarding approval of project plan and design.
  5. Presentation of the District’s draft Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives(ABCA), and proposed cleanup for Parcel 30 by Fuss & O’Neill.
  6. Presentation by Bonnie Nickerson, City of Providence Department of Planning on the proposed Downtown Enhanced Transit Corridor.
  7. Chairman’s Report/Agenda for March 21, 2016 meeting.
  8. Vote to Adjourn.
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Citizens plans campus in the middle of nowhere

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Rendering of Citizens planned campus in Johnston

On Wednesday, Citizens Financial Group announced their plans to build a corporate campus on a greenfield site in Johnson outside Route 295, while maintaining their current corporate headquarters in Providence.

As reported by WPRI, the 420,000 square foot campus will house 3,200 employees. Construction will start this year with occupancy in 2018.

Rhode Island Public Radio reports the campus will feature an on-site cafeteria, fitness center, and walking paths.

The Providence Journal reports on some financial help Citizens received for the project, notably:

Citizens and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation have agreed to split the $6-million cost to build new exit and entrance ramps onto Route 295, between current exits 6 and 7, where the highway crosses Greenville Avenue. The DOT will pay $3 million, and construction is expected to start in the spring of 2017, DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said;

Didn’t we just pass a super-controversial bill to toll trucks because RIDOT can’t afford to maintain what it has now? Now RIDOT is building infrastructure for private development?

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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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News & Notes

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Ljubljana – Photo (cc) Gilad Rom

BuzzFeed News It Will Soon Be More Expensive To Jaywalk Than To Drink And Drive In Nova Scotia

This year the province is upping its fines for jaywalking to $700 for a first offence. It’s $1,272 for a second offence and a whopping $2,422 for a third offence.

[…]

Ultimately, said [Ben] Wedge [chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition], pedestrians are already careful because they know that they’re the ones who are going to be injured in a collision, not the driver.

“The punishment has to be proportional to the crime committed,” he said.


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ProJo: Work on R.I. routes 6-10 a major undertaking for planners

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According to the bid documents released Friday, the 6-10 “conceptual design” consultant will play a central role in figuring out what the state’s “preferred alternative” for 6-10 reconstruction is before helping secure federal environmental approval and, hopefully, federal grants.

Although a surface boulevard plan for 6-10 is not mentioned specifically in the bid documents, one section requires the consultant to study “the traffic impacts along Route 6-10” based on the addition of transit and “a reduction in capacity,” indicating a possible loss of automobile lanes from the current alignment.

Later it says “pedestrian/bicycle flow will also be calculated at key intersections and corridor segments under the future build scenarios. Both positive and negative impacts on traffic will be identified.” The current highway does not allow pedestrians or bicycles and does not have intersections.


The City is hosting a Community Forum on the 6/10 Connector on March 23rd.

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Community Conversation on the Future of the 6/10 Connector – March 23, 2016

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Mayor Jorge Elorza and the American Planning Association of Rhode Island invite you to a community conversation about the future of the 6-10 Connector, featuring a discussion with three national experts who have experience with similar highway projects. This event is free and open to the public.

A Community Conversation About the Future of the 6-10 Connector
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – 6-8pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, Providence
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RIFuture.org: Will Providence continue to be a Northeast Corridor rail city?

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Tracks approaching Providence Station

The federal government is considering improvements and changes to train service along the Northeast Corridor rail line that could end up bypassing Providence in favor of Worcester. Here’s how:

NEC FUTURE – a plan for rail investment for the Northeast Corridor,” sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and as their title indicates, is a program to determine a long-term vision and investment program for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and to provide a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2016 in support of that vision. The FRA launched NEC FUTURE in February 2012.

February 16, 2016 will be the last day to make comments on the Tier 1 Draft EIS (DEIS) before NEC FUTURE prepares the final document.


Visit RIFuture.org to continue reading Peter Brassard’s in-depth analysis.

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Politico: Obama to propose $10-a-barrel oil tax

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President Barack Obama is about to unveil an ambitious plan for a “21st century clean transportation system.” And he hopes to fund it with a tax on oil.

Obama aides told POLITICO that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

There is no real chance that the Republican-controlled Congress will embrace Obama’s grand vision of climate-friendly mobility in an election year—especially after passing a long-stalled bipartisan highway bill just last year—and his aides acknowledge it’s mostly an effort to jump-start a conversation about the future of transportation.

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Strong Towns: From Highway to Boulevard

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6/10 Connector from the Atwells Avenue overpass

Currently a six lane highway running like a loop off of I-95, the 6/10 Connector goes from Capitol Center through Smith Hill, Federal Hill, Valley, Olneyville, Manton, the West End, Silver Lake, the Upper South Side and Lower South Side, ending back at I-95 in the suburb of Cranston. These are working class and middle class neighborhoods with walkable bones, and the highway goes against its name and disconnects them from one another, ensuring more driving. Many businesses in the poorer neighborhoods of Providence rank high on the per-acre value scale that Joe Minicozzi’s Urban Three developed, but the design flaws imposed on the neighborhoods by decades of RIDOT mistakes do not allow those advantages to show.

[…]

The mayor’s administration recently added a 6/10 Boulevard proposal to the “TIP” or Transportation Improvement Plan, for the state. This marks a new milestone in a journey from the boulevard being a wild pipe dream to a proposal that seems likely to happen. Ominously, another version of the project—a complete rebuild of the highway—still is on the TIP. Advocates from Moving Together Providence are working to make sure the boulevard is built and that it does not become a stroad.

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

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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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