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ProJo: R.I. DOT chief Michael Lewis resigns; Raimondo appoints former Cranston DPW director Alviti to take his place

micheal-lewis-square1Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis has resigned, and Governor Raimondo has chosen a former Cranston public works director with ties to the Laborers International Union of North America to take his place.

Late Tuesday afternon, Raimondo announced her choice of Peter Alviti as Rhode Island’s new DOT director. If he wins Senate confirmation, he will replace Lewis in the top spot in the state road and bridge building agency.

Raimondo chose Peter Garino as his top deputy. Garino has been “chief, capital programming and administration” for New Jersey Transit.

I don’t know anything about Alviti, but I was hoping the Governor would look for someone forward thinking from out-of-state. Color me unimpressed by having a former DPW director from Cranston running the state transportation agency.

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The economic argument for clearing snow from sidewalks

walkinpvd-iconThere’s been a lot of lip-service to forcing people to clear sidewalks through fines, but not too much seems to be coming of it. I’ve argued a lot about the safety issues involved in not clearing the sidewalks, especially for young children forced to walk in the road on the way to school; but few results have been seen.

So, what about the economic impact? Should a city and state that claims to want to attract millennials who seek walkable transit-oriented small cities look like this?

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News & Notes

obama-official-edit

President Obama announced his budget on Monday including a $478-billion six-year plan for transportation spending.

Streetsblog USA: Obama’s New Transportation Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Today President Obama unveiled his opening bid in this process. The $478-billion, six-year plan from the White House includes many of the proposals the administration unveiled last year. Congress didn’t advance those ideas then, and with the GOP now controlling both houses, chances remain slim for reforming highway-centric federal transportation policy.

But the White House budget document remains the best summary of the Obama team’s transportation policy agenda. The ideas are intriguing even if they’re politically improbable.

Also on Streetsblog, they picked up our story about the death of Karen McHugh.

Scientific American: U.S. Cities Lag in Race against Rising Seas

In just a few decades, most U.S. coastal regions are likely to experience at least 30 days of nuisance flooding every year.

Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Md.; and Wilmington, N.C., are already in trouble. By 2020, seven more cities, including Baltimore and Atlantic City, N.J., can add themselves to the list. And within the next 35 years, most cities along all coasts will be dealing with routine flooding.

Some cities, such as New York, are bolstering their shorelines in response to extreme events, such as Superstorm Sandy. But with more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of the coast, many areas are just at the beginning stages of preparing to deal with rising sea levels and the increased flooding they bring.

Where will we build the next hurricane barrier?


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Déjà vu

I’m pretty sure RIDOT sent this same exact Tweet last time we had a giant storm and I sent the exact same reply.

Also, the Mayor wants all the sidewalks clear by tomorrow afternoon, but don’t ever put any snow on the street!

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ABC 6 Video: Pawtucket-Central Falls Commuter Rail Station

ABC6 – Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

More from the Pawtucket Foundation:


Pawtucket and Central Falls are a step closer to having a commuter rail stop on the Providence – Boston MBTA line. Last night, at a public meeting hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, officials noted that the station planning was at the mid-point of a lengthy process to establishing the station.

Mayor Donald Grebien, of Pawtucket, kicked off the meeting by pledging strong support for the project from the City. He noted that Pawtucket has been working to re-establish a rail stop for ten years, and while government doesn’t move fast enough, he expects to see the station completed within the next 5 years. The City of Central Falls was represented by Planning Director, Steve Larrick. Larrick noted that Mayor Diossa, also a strong proponent for the station, was in Washington D.C. meeting with Rhode Island’s congressional delegation to discuss a number of projects, foremost, a commuter rail stop.

The meeting was well attended by the public and entertained positive comments and constructive feedback regarding: station access for pedestrians, bikes and RIPTA service, development opportunities, landscaping and connections to the recently announced Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

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Pawtucket-Central Falls Commuter Rail Station Public Meeting – January 22, 2015

pawtucket-station-location

From the Pawtucket Foundation:


You’re invited to attend a Rhode Island Department of Transportation & the City of Pawtucket/City of Central Falls Public Meeting concerning the future Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter rail station!

Thursday, January 22, 2015
Blackstone Valley Visitors Center
175 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI
Open house: 6:00PM | Presentation 6:30PM

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), The City of Pawtucket and the City of Central Falls invite members of the community to attend a meeting to learn more about a potential Pawtucket/Central Falls commuter rail station. Officials will provide an update on the project and outline next steps for the potential station, which is proposed for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Providence Line. The Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center is located at RIPTA’s Pawtucket Transit Center and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish translation services will be available at the meeting. Individuals who do not speak the English or Spanish languages or who are hearing impaired may contact RIDOT on or before January 19, 2015 to request an interpreter. Please direct interpreter requests to customerservice@dot.ri.gov or (401) 222-2450.

Si esta información es necesaria en otro idioma, llame al (401) 222-2450. Se esta informacao e nevessario emu ma outro lingua, contate por favor (401) 222-2450.

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The Valley Breeze: Woonsocket looks to change zoning to allow train stop on Fairmount Street

fairmont-woonsocket

Image from Google Maps

Boston Surface Rail Company has proposed establishing commuter rail service between Worcester and Providence, but still needs to conquer a few regulatory hurdles and negotiations with some involved parties.

This week, the City Council took a first step toward preparing Woonsocket for the possibility, receiving an ordinance that would adjust zoning laws to allow passenger terminals to be operated in non-residential zones.

While the change authorizes terminals throughout the city, Bouley said it is prompted by BSRC’s hope to create a stop at 85 Fairmount St., the property that held the Alice Mill building before it was obliterated by a massive fire in 2011.

Well this is all well and good, but doesn’t Woonsocket have a handsome station downtown already? This burned out mill site probably provides the opportunity for a lot of parking…

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Your ‘Charlie Card’ could soon take you further

fares-charlieThe Rhode Island General Assembly is considering a bill to allow the MBTA’s farecard, the Charlie Card, to work on RIPTA:

SECTION 1. Chapter 39-18 of the General Laws entitled “Rhode Island Public Transit Authority” is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

39-18-25. Create parity with MBTA commuter passes. – The authority shall consult with the Massachusetts Bay transit authority on the feasibility of allowing commuter rail passes to be used on all Rhode Island public transit authority buses. Such rail passes shall serve as dual Rhode Island public transit authority passes and Massachusetts Bay transit authority passes, if possible. Such consultation shall also include proposed methods to apportion and share the costs of such passes between the two (2) authorities.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

I know RIPTA has wanted to crack this nut for some time, with the official blessing of the Assembly, let’s hope they find a way to figure it out. Anything to make utilizing transit easier is a good thing.

h/t to ecoRI News’s Tim Faulkner
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The Boston Globe: Boston picked to bid for Olympics

olympic_flag

Photo (cc) Sam from Wikimedia Commons

The United States Olympic Committee has chosen Boston to be its entry in a global competition to host the 2024 Olympic Games, putting its faith in an old city that is brand new to the Olympic movement.

The USOC announced Thursday after a meeting at Denver International Airport that it will back Boston’s Olympic bid over those from San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and two-time Olympic host Los Angeles.

With the vote, Boston vaults into an unfamiliar, high-profile position on the international sports stage. During the next two-and-a-half years, it will be part of a competition that could include some of the most significant cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul. There could be competition from South Africa, from Doha in Qatar, from Baku in Azerbaijan, and from other cities or regions attracted by new rules intended to make it easier to host the Games. A winner will be chosen in 2017.

So of course the big question for us is, what could this mean for Providence? Governor Raimondo tweeted last night that this is a, “tremendous opportunity to showcase state, region to the world.”

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Video: Gabe Klein speaking at the PPS Symposium

This video shows transportation advocate Gabe Klein speaking at last November’s Providence Preservation Society Symposium.

Transportation guru Gabe Klein gives an insightful look at how cities can make simple and effective changes to transportation policy and infrastructure to effect safety, livability and economic transformation. He spoke as a featured speaker at the 2014 Providence Symposium, produced by the Providence Preservation Society.

See videos of all the speakers and panels from the PPS Symposium on YouTube.

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Kennedy Plaza bus stops to re-open January 17, 2015

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Kennedy Plaza re-opens this Saturday, check where to find your new bus stop. Winter service schedules also go into effect on Saturday, visit RIPTA to see your schedule.

From RIPTA:


RIPTA Announces January Reopening of Kennedy Plaza Transit Hub in Downtown Providence

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will welcome passengers back to the newly-renovated Kennedy Plaza transit hub on Saturday, January 17, officials announced Tuesday.

The plaza has been closed since the summer as RIPTA and the City of Providence worked to enhance the safety and aesthetics of the plaza located in front of Providence City Hall. The enhancements – which include new lighting, improved signage and trees – will make it safer and easier for passengers to make their bus connections while also creating a pedestrian-friendly plaza in downtown Providence.

RIPTA staff will be reaching out to riders and distributing information on the new bus stop locations between now and the January reopening.

While some earlier projections had targeted late fall for the plaza reopening, the work took longer than initially expected and there were also some design modifications made during the process.

“When passengers and pedestrians see the new plaza, we think that they’ll feel it was worth the wait,” said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs for RIPTA. “What once was a congested traffic area is now a plaza with trees, easy-to-read signs, and plenty of room for bus passengers and pedestrians alike,” she said. “We really appreciate the patience of our riders, the public and surrounding businesses.”

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News & Notes

toronto-flickr

Toronto, Canada – Image (cc) Geee Kay

The Globe and Mail: Toronto to narrow traffic lanes in hopes of increasing safety

Toronto will narrow many of the city’s traffic lanes in a bid to increase safety by reining in speeds while freeing up space for bicycle lanes or wider sidewalks.

The city has just finished a new policy for lane widths, guidelines that will be rolled out gradually across Toronto.

It will mean that, over a period of years, the lanes on streets across the city will be redrawn. A city official said current widths can encourage drivers to go faster than necessary. The new lanes will generally range from 3 to 4.3 metres, depending on location.

3 to 4.3 meters equals 9′ 11″ to 14′ 1″ in American. 14′ is crazy wide, but 9′ 11″… RIDOT would faint dead away.

For example, buses operated by the TTC are up to 2.97 metres wide, including mirrors, and lanes on bus routes are to be a minimum of 3.3 metres wherever possible.

3.3 meters equals 10′ 6″.


The Atlantic: How Political Leadership Makes City Streets Bikeable

Becoming more bikeable: That seems to be a must for any self-respecting major American city these days. But what does it take to achieve that goal? Resources, of course—the funds to create the infrastructure for safe and comfortable bikeways. But the most important thing is political will. It takes real political leadership to overcome opposition to change.

Just ask people in Pittsburgh, which is making great progress on its goals to become more bikeable. It’s happening partly because of long-term, purposeful advocacy from organizations like BikePGH. But the most important factor in Pittsburgh’s success is the political leadership of Bill Peduto, the city’s mayor of only eleven months.

Indeed, big overhauls in the structure of a city require direct input from a Mayor.



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Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Worcester-Providence ‘JetBlue of rail commuting’ envisioned

Worcester Union Station

Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts – Photo (cc) Jonf728

Already practically sister cities, Worcester and Providence may soon have a new connection — this time over the rails.

Boston Surface Railroad Co. has been formed for the specific purpose of creating a commuter rail service between the two New England cities. Vincent Bono, the largest stockholder and general manager of the new company, said plans are in the first stages of developing what he hopes will eventually be three trains per day traveling between the two cities.

The first step is to conduct a study, which is expected to take six months. If the project proves feasible, an agreement would have to be forged with Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. to use its tracks, and possibly to operate the trains. If all goes well, the service could begin within 18 months.

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News & Notes

broadway-snow

Broadway

The Boston Globe: Lower rents, wide choices draw tenants to Route 128

Kendall Square and the Innovation District may be the hip places to be, especially for tech companies, but a mini-revival of sorts is under way along America’s original technology highway.

The western suburbs around Route 128 are experiencing a building boom, with new headquarters for growing companies such as TripAdvisor and Vistaprint among five huge developments under construction in Needham, Waltham, and neighboring towns.

But, but, but… Providence. We don’t necessarily have to give everyone $75 million to move here, the Assembly knows that, don’t they?


ABC News: More Prefer Public Transit to Road Building

Americans in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor expanded public transportation options over road building in government efforts to reduce traffic congestion. But where they live makes a difference.

Overall, 54 percent prefer focusing on public transit, such as trains and buses, while four in ten say the government should focus on expanding and building roads instead. Preference for public transit, though, ranges from 61 percent of urban residents to 52 percent of suburbanites and 49 percent of people in rural areas.


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PBN: Would dredging return bustle to riverfront?

Last dredged in the 1990s, the river is now so shallow in places that even the Proud Mary has to dance around obstructions and can’t reach Waterplace Park at low tide. “I know where all those difficult places are, but north of Point Street you can run aground virtually any time,” McGinn said. “I just have to be careful and cannot go into Waterplace Park basin when it’s real low.”

Preventing the river from filling in with natural sediment requires periodic dredging, something neither the city nor state has been eager to finance in recent years. The federal government declined to tap a pool of funds set aside for dredging projects that maintain cargo shipping channels.

As a result, much of the center and eastern side of the river is too shallow for boats even at midtide and the WaterFire lightings must be planned around tidal schedules and closures of the hurricane barrier to keep water inside.

Now the depth of the river and role marine traffic should play in the revitalization of downtown has become a discussion point again as the state begins construction of new public spaces on the former Interstate 195 land.


What if traffic in the Woonasquatucket looked like this?:

“Amsterdam Canals: It’s busy on the Prinsengracht” © Peter Eijking

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ProJo: Opening of Washington Bridge bike path in Providence delayed

washington-bridge

Photo of construction in October 2013

The opening of a new linear park for bikers and walkers on a transformed section of the old Washington Bridge has been delayed until the end of the year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“It’s looking like in December that we’ll have it open for use, that’s what we are shooting for right now,” said DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros.

When I took the above photo, over a year ago, they were saying, “next summer.”

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RIDOT: Rhode Island’s Transit Future

One of the most crucial components of a healthy economy and quality of place is a sound transportation system: one that supports diverse modes of travel and seamlessly connects Rhode Island to the rest of the world – and Rhode Islanders, more meaningfully to each other and to opportunity.

Since I’m a big geek I watch videos like this and visit websites extolling the virtues of various transit systems around the world and I think to my self, ‘our system really sucks.’

Then I see a shiny video showcasing our system and I wonder if all those other cities just have really good videographers hiding the suckitude of their systems.

I think it is half and half; half our system sucks compared to others, and half other systems suck too but are good at publicity. Look at how the Interlink is described in that video, it sounds good, but it is not really there yet. There are a number of factors why, there’s really no there there at Warwick Station, it is not really a destination other than the airport (regardless of what this video is trying to sell us about the area). Rhode Islanders really still love their cars. There’s a chicken and egg about not enough riders so not enough service and not enough service so not enough riders, etc.

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