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Tag Archives | Transportation

Providence Streetcar to apply for TIGER VI grant funding

streetcar-empire

The Obama administration announced a new round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (known as TIGER VI) with an extremely short turn-around for submitting applications, they are due April 28th.

The City of Providence applied for a TIGER grant last year, RIDOT also submitted a bid for Apponaug which was supported by the Governor. The Apponaug project was awarded a TIGER grant, and while there isn’t direct competition built into the grant process per-say, it is thought that Providence’s streetcar bid lost out to Kansas City’s streetcar which had more secure funding in place at the time. Providence’s 2013 TIGER grant application included a funding plan, but unlike Kansas City’s successful application, steps had not yet been taken to implement that funding.

Capital costs for the project (costs incurred to build it) are estimated to be $117.8 million (2016 dollars). Funding will come from City TIF Bonds, Federal funds, Rhode Island Capital Plan funds, RIPTA CMAQ funds, and a RIDOT land transfer.

In the next month, Providence plans to work further toward implementation of funding by working with the Providence City Council Ordinance Committee to approve a TIF plan for the streetcar district. This funding represents 50% of the projected cost of the project and will be one of the sources for operations revenue after the project is complete.

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News & Notes

→ Streetsblog: Obama to Propose Four-Year Transpo Bill Funded By “Business Tax Reform”

obama-official-portrait-vertA fact sheet from the administration indicates the proposal would increase dedicated funding for transit more than funding for highways.

The proposal would represent a 38 percent spending increase over the current $109 billion, 2-year law, known as MAP-21, and is the most concrete long-term transportation bill proposed by the Obama administration, which has never put forward a funding stream until now.

See also: → Whitehouse.gov: FACT SHEET: President Obama Lays Out Vision for 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure


→ The New York Times: When Pedestrians Get Mixed Signals

But the indication to walk never came. I was contemplating a four-lane dash when a man appeared who told me I had to press the “Walk” button. I did, and at the next signal change for cars, my signal appeared as well.

At first, I applauded this municipal beneficence, which I encountered during a visit while researching my book. Los Angeles is looking after its pedestrians! In New York City, by contrast, the once-functioning “Walk” buttons were left to go dormant, then largely removed. But in my subsequent visits to Los Angeles, my feelings have shifted.

The reason the buttons were rendered obsolete in New York is that there was no need for them. There were always pedestrians waiting to cross. In Los Angeles, the working button came to seem a rare and feeble plea: May I please cross the street?

In Providence I’m all the time seeing people push the wrong walk button. People press the one closest to them, but that is not the button for the street they are hoping to cross.

But the article is really about the misguided crack-down on “jaywalking” in some cities.

If tough love will not make pedestrians safer, what will? The answer is: better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians. But it’s easier to write off the problem as one of jaywalkers.

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→ ProJo: In Providence, moving bus shelters a first step toward new vision for downtown plaza

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Image from Bing Maps

The city is proposing to move the two “eastern-most shelters” to a sidewalk of vacant land owned by the Providence Redevelopment Agency, an arm of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, on Exchange Street. The triangle-shaped, grass area next to the downtown post office is bordered by Exchange Terrace, Exchange Street and Memorial Boulevard.

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Mayoral Candidate Jorge Elorza statement on Providence Public School’s busing policies

Following an article posted yesterday on Rhode Island’s Future, Candidate for Providence Mayor, Jorge Elorza released the following statement on the matter.

Jorge Elorza, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, issued the following statement on Providence Public School Department’s busing policy.

jorge-elorza-002Our city’s public high school students are not eligible for bus passes unless they live more than three miles from school. Students that fall into the far end of that range could be walking for as long as 45 minutes to an hour just to make it to their first period classes.

As a community, we have to do everything in our power to make sure our students are in their classrooms and learning. Our students face too many challenges for us to be creating additional institutional barriers for them. Denying students who live between 2-3 miles away from school bus passes impacts learning, impacts health, and impacts safety, and our low-income communities are disproportionately affected.

When I was a child growing up on Cranston Street, my Mother acted as the school bus for many kids in the neighborhood. Although we were lucky to have her there to bring us to school, not every student is as lucky as we were.

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2014 State of the City Address

Mayor Angel Taveras delivered his final State of the City Address last night at City Hall:


angel-twitter

Image from Angel Taveras Twitter feed


Working and Investing in Providence

Mayor Angel Taveras – 2014 State of the City Address
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(as prepared for delivery)

Mr. President, honorable members of the Providence City Council, distinguished guests, and fellow residents of our great Capital City –

In April, I had the pleasure to be present for the Omni Group’s purchase of the C.J. Fox factory. Anyone who drives on Route 95 South through our city knows the Omni Group has been hard at work renovating the complex at the entrance to historic Federal Hill.

The Omni Group is a homegrown company, headquartered in Providence. Like most businesses, they went through some tough times beginning in 2008. Financing their project became a major challenge when Wall Street imploded and the economy went into a tailspin.

But the Omni Group made it through the hard times, and now they are moving forward and investing $5 million to convert the old factory complex into office space. Bill DiStefano, Omni’s President and CEO, told me they decided to expand their business again because they believe Providence is heading in the right direction.

I tell you this story because it speaks to the overall state of our city. The state of our city is improving.

We’ve been through the hard times of the Great Recession. But we never lost hope. And we never stopped believing that better days were ahead. We are working hard and making investments that will propel Providence into a future of greater economic strength and prosperity.

I want to talk to you tonight about all we’ve done to move Providence forward in the past year. And then I want to talk to you about what we will do in the coming months.

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→ PBN: Parking, bus plans ‘Link’-ed

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The two projects carry estimated price tags in the neighborhood of $40 million each and one of the bus hubs will likely share a location with the parking garage at the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street.

[...]

As central as The Link [195 Redevelopment District] is to the state’s economic-development strategy, by itself the second RIPTA bus hub planned adjacent to the Providence Train Station could be a larger project than the combined Garrahy proposal.

That’s because the hub is being looked at as part of a public-private partnership including, potentially, expansion of the train station, more garage parking and mixed-use development of the vacant land next door owned by Capital Properties Inc.

Planned correctly, these projects could greatly enhance the city’s transportation system. It is good to see divergent players looking at all the pieces together and seeing how they fit.

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News & Notes

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Image from Boston Public Market Facebook page

→ The Boston Globe: Boston public food market set for construction

Executives with the nonprofit organization behind the market said some vendors will begin selling products in an outdoor plaza along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway this spring. Meanwhile, construction will proceed next door on a facility scheduled to open in early 2015.

Once completed, the indoor market will host about 40 vendors selling a wide array of local products, including fish, cheese, meats, produce, flowers, and specialty items. It is designed to function like a daily farmer’s market. But vendors will also offer prepared foods and dry goods such as books, candles, and cooking utensils.

A draft layout also includes space for a demonstration kitchen, where chefs could host cooking classes, as well as a 3,000-square-foot restaurant facing the greenway. Executives with the market are beginning to look for restaurateurs interested in the space.


→ The Boston Globe: Governor Patrick’s down payments on a transit legacy

Governor Deval Patrick isn’t hopping the Red Line to get to work, but that hasn’t stopped the comparisons to Michael Dukakis.

The Duke famously took the Green Line when he was governor, and Patrick’s latest transportation plan, released last week, revealed an infusion of money into rail and transit that represents the biggest commitment since the Dukakis days.

Over five years, Patrick proposes to devote more than 40 percent, or about $6.6 billion, of his transportation capital plan to the MBTA, rail, and other forms of mass transit.

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→ PBN: Costly bridge work looming

6-10-bing

Image from Bing Maps

At an estimated cost of up to $500 million, [the Route 6/Route 10 interchange] is the most expensive unfunded highway construction project on the state’s to-do list and could be one of the toughest to find the resources for.

We need to be thinking beyond replacement.

Asked about the possibility of not rebuilding the interchange or replacing sections of the expressway with surface-level roads, Lewis said elimination was “not workable.”

“It’s just too much a part of the transportation system” to eliminate, Lewis said. “I don’t think there is a transit option that would take care of this need. If [routes] 6 or 10 access was not available, all that traffic would have to go somewhere else and shift to [Interstate 95] and local roads.”

Sigh.

Call San Francisco, ask them about the Embarcadero.

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The suburbanization of Olneyville

mcdonalds-rendering

Rendering of proposed McDonald’s and Family Dollar store on Plainfield Street in Olneyville.

The City Plan Commission meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to the impending storm. It is scheduled to take place now on January 28th.

After learning of plans for a drive-thru McDonald’s proposed on Plainfield Street in Olneyville, I requested plans for the proposal from the Planning Department.

The developer is seeking master plan approval from the City Plan Commission for the construction of a McDonald’s and Family Dollar store in a separate building on a site which was cleared of existing structures last year.

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What Cheer / What Jeer 2013

We’re running a little late this year but we’re finally ready to run down the What Cheers and What Jeers of 2013.

what-cheer-south-street-power-station

WHAT CHEER: South Street Power Station (Maybe)

In 2013 we got another plan to redevelop the moribund South Street Power Station. While numerous plans for the building, which at one point was known as the Dynamo House, have come and gone, this latest plan engenders optimism as Brown University is involved now.

In January the New York Times and then The Brown Daily Herald reported on rumors of the university becoming involved in the project. Then in June Brown announced it’s plans for the building in a letter to the campus community.

Those plans include a home for the long talked about URI/RIC Nursing School, office space for Brown, and some sort of retail component in the former power station building. Brown also has a developer engaged in building a student apartment building in the neighboring parking lot along Point Street and the City is involved in plans for a parking structure across Point Street from that.

The latest news on the project comes from the ProJo just before Christmas with reports that the PRA is considering condemning the building so the project can move forward.

While this could all be looked at as another in a long line of proposals for the building, Brown’s involvement makes this proposal seem more promising. 2014 will show us if this project actually moves forward.

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Transport Providence: Petition for bike lanes on Westminster Street

westminster

Image from Google Streetview

This is a guest post by James Kennedy from Transport Providence.

The next mayor must re-envision our city streets by supporting protected bike lanes. Westminster on the West Side is the first place Providence should start the transformation.

Providence does not have cavernous streets like Los Angeles, but many of its streets are much wider than streets in other East Coast cities, but without bike infrastructure. While Philadelphia has buffered bike lanes that are eight feet wide on streets that are around twenty-four feet wide, there are no such lanes on the West Side’s Westminster Street, which is about forty feet wide. The excuse that we don’t have room for infrastructure that will make more people feel safe on bikes has to be set aside.

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Storm updates from the City – No school, parking ban, no trash collection Friday

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Providence parking ban ends at noon (Jan. 3rd).
TRASH REMOVAL
Garbage and recycling collection will not take place today, Friday, January 3, 2014. If your regular trash pickup day is Thursday, your trash will be picked up tomorrow, Saturday, January 4, 2014. If your regular trash pickup day is Friday, your trash will be picked up on Monday, January 6, 2014.

Trash pickup will be delayed by one day next week:

  • Monday pickup will be Tuesday
  • Tuesday pickup will be Wednesday
  • Wednesday pickup will be Thursday
  • Thursday pickup will be Friday
  • Friday pickup will be Saturday

The regular trash pickup schedule will resume on Monday, January 13, 2014.

From the City:


Providence Public Schools Closed Tomorrow, Jan. 3 – Parking Ban Begins at Midnight

Residents urged to exercise caution during frigid conditions

PROVIDENCE, RI – In preparation for a winter snow storm forecast to bring frigid temperatures and leave up to eight inches of snow in Providence, Providence Public Schools will be closed tomorrow, January 3, 2013.

Mayor Angel Taveras has declared a citywide parking ban beginning at midnight tonight. The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice.

Snowfall is expected to peak in intensity during the evening hours tonight and will continue through tomorrow morning. The storm will be accompanied by frigid temperatures and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour that will greatly reduce visibility and make extended outdoor exposure dangerous.

The Department of Public Works has prepared all equipment and personnel to respond to the storm. The City’s Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated with Providence Emergency Management staff.

Residents can stay up to date on the latest storm developments from the City by using the filter #PVDsnow on Twitter and following the accounts of Mayor Taveras and PEMA.

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→ ProJo: R.I. considers commuter-rail stops in Cranston, W. Davisville, E. Greenwich, other links

ridot-commuter-rail-tf-green

MBTA train at T.F. Green, image from RIDOT

Could commuter trains someday be stopping at Pawtucket, Cranston, East Greenwich and West Davisville on their way to Kingston and Westerly and maybe into Connecticut?

Could such trains link Woonsocket to Providence and T.F. Green Airport, with connections to Boston?

The Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program is pondering such questions as it compiles a state rail plan for the next 20 years, to be finalized sometime this year.

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Barry Schiller: State Rail Plan hearings, January 23, 2014

superman-train

Photo (cc) Providence Public Library

Barry Schiller, a retired Rhode Island College math professor, is a long-time member of the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee. He also was on the RIPTA Board of Directors 1995-1999.

Here is a chance to give your opinion on any railroad related issue in Rhode Island. In response to Federal incentives, RI is developing a State Rail Plan for both passenger and freight services. A draft is available on-line at Planning.ri.govpdf. There will be public hearings on this draft on Thursday, January 23 at 10am and 6:30pm at the Department of Administration Building in Providence.

The draft plan starts with state railroad history, explains the process for developing the plan, notes related Federal programs and previous studies, and inventories the existing situation. The plan goes on to identify various desirable goals related to safety, security, infrastructure condition, reliability, service levels, coordination with other agencies, economic activity, congestion reduction, environment, and financial feasibility, but perhaps the heart of it is with Chapter 10 “Rhode Island Rail Investment Program” which suggests implementation plans over a 20 year timeframe.

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News & Notes

20120921 46 Gas Pump

Photo (cc) David Wilson

→ The Verge: Uber surge pricing: sound economic theory, bad business practice

When the snow started falling in New York City this past weekend, the prices for a ride in an Uber car began rising. It’s part of the company’s long-standing policy of “surge pricing”: using an algorithm that raises prices to adjust for demand. Uber says the higher prices motivate more drivers to hit the road, ensuring that there are always enough cars available for customers, at least those who can afford much steeper fares. The adjusted prices, which got as high as $35 a mile, were roughly eight times the regular fare. The minimum of $175 a ride took many customers by surprise and they reacted with anger. Surge pricing happens regularly in Uber’s busiest markets, and has drawn customer outrage and media scrutiny before, including in New York during the snowstorm on New Year’s Eve, 2011, and during Hurricane Sandy.

See also → ValleyWag: The Weekend Uber Tried To Rip Everyone Off


→ The Walking Bostonian: Thought experiment: how much bus service can you get for the price of a parking garage?

We know that excavating an underground parking garage can cost from $50,000 to $100,000 per parking space (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on conditions). Speaking loosely, then, each underground parking space could cover the net cost of approximately 5-10 weekdays worth of key bus route service. Let’s just assume for simplicity that every day has the same cost as a weekday. Then a year’s worth of key bus route service could be covered for the same cost as 36 to 73 underground parking spaces.

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→ ProJo: RIPTA review to examine Providence bus ‘hubs’

ripta

The RIPTA board unanimously agreed to ask a consultant to expand a “comprehensive operational analysis” to include a look at how shifting bus routes to Providence Station and to the Garrahy Judicial Complex would affect service and the agency’s finances.

I’ve heard some talk about this in recent weeks. Without knowing too many details (and the consultant’s analysis will actually be bringing out more details), I think a hub in the Jewelry District helps with the fact that Kennedy Plaza is so far removed from the potential jobs district at that end of the city, and a hub at the train station helps with connectivity to rail. Done right, these hubs could help mitigate the mistake of moving the train station further from the Central Business District and the fact that our Central Business District is less centralized at Kennedy Plaza than it has been through history.

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Champlin Foundation grant to fund gateway project at Burnside Park

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From the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy:


$395,000 Champlin Foundations Grant Awarded to Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Kennedy Plaza Project

Funds will build a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park

The Champlin Foundations recently granted $395,000 to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC) and The Providence Foundation to create a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park. This significant investment will fund a detailed design and reconstruction of the park’s northeast corner, which is a critical element of capital improvement in Greater Kennedy Plaza. An attractive new entrance by the Burnside statue and a corresponding footpath will encourage more varied, healthy activities in our downtown public spaces. By ensuring that the passageway remains safe, clean and well-lit, this project will allow travelers to easily walk through the park on their way from the train station to the RIPTA bus hub, strengthening this connection. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion expected in late summer 2014.

First proposed during a community charrette led by international placemaking experts at the Project for Public Spaces in 2008, this gateway improvement project is one of several transformative changes planned within Greater Kennedy Plaza next year. The city of Providence has committed $1.7 million from its downtown circulator project to reconfigure traffic patterns around the parks. With support from RIPTA, plans call for the relocation of bus berths to the outside of Kennedy Plaza to make way for a pedestrian plaza and market.

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News & Notes

Jersey City - Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line in Jersey City, NJ. Photo (cc) Wally Gobetz.

→ Streetsblog: Why Free Black Friday Parking Is a Bad Idea

Lastly, providing free parking creates an inequity issue for people who do not own a car. As I’ve noted before, more than one-quarter of Cleveland households lack access to a vehicle. Yet, because the cost of parking is already factored into the price of retail goods, these individuals will have to pay for the hidden cost of parking, despite the fact that they will not take advantage of it. Ohio’s transportation policies are already skewed heavily enough towards driving. The round-trip cost of taking public transportation to Tower City ($4.50 per person) is higher than the price for two hours of on-street parking. Requiring the City to pick up this tab only serves to widen the gap between drivers and non-drivers.


→ The Atlantic Cities: Why Correcting Misperceptions About Mass Transit May Be More Important Than Improving Service

If you want to understand why people use a certain transit system, it makes sense to start with the system itself. Frequency, access, and any other service qualities that make riding as convenient as driving will help. Whether or not the way a city is designed and built nudges people toward the system — via residential density and street design, for instance — matters, too.

But as we’ve pointed out in the past, there’s a psychological component to riding transit that’s easy for city officials and planners to overlook. Fact is, we’re not all completely rational about our travel decisions. The perceptions that people have about public transportation, substantiated or not, are powerful enough to attract or repel them.


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