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WPRO: Former Rhode Island Mall to become factory outlets

PowerPoint Presentation

Interior concept rendering from Winstanley Enterprises

The developers of the former Rhode Island Mall are hoping to open “The Outlets at Rhode Island Mall” late next year.

Winstanley Enterprises of Mass. and Surrey Equities of New York bought the mall back in 2012 and had previously planned to turn the vacant shopping center into several big-box stores.

I hate to say I told you so* about the big box concept but… I told you so.

The completed outlet mall would house between 40 and 60 outlet stores according to Silvera. He says it will have similar tenants to the Wrentham Outlets, but unlike Wrentham, it will not be an outdoor mall – they plan to keep the existing exterior of the Rhode Island Mall, but will completely renovate the inside.


The developer has a marketing brochure online

*Who am I kidding, I love to say I told you so.

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Reports: Apponaug wins TIGER grant, streetcar seemingly, no.




Previously: 10 reasons why the Apponaug Circulator is ‘not ready to go’

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Repost: Seeking a solution (to flooding and beach closures)

After the 2010 floods, I wrote about the public desire for some sort of solution to prevent future flooding. Spoiler, we can’t prevent future floods, but we can change what we’re doing to mitigate the impact of flooding.

We haven’t had a giant flood since, but related to the flooding problem is stormwater runoff polluting the bay. Bob Plain writes today on RIFuture about how Warwick has been heavily impacted by beach closures related to pollution caused by runoff.

Also today, Save The Bay is holding a press conference about the high number of beach closings this year. The AP’s Erika Niedowski tweets from the press conference:


That is to say, I believe, that the Providence Combined Sewer Overflow Project is working, but our paved and other impervious surfaces are still causing us harm.

In 2010 it was massive flooding which was supposed to be our wake-up call about the damage our built environment was doing to us. We did not learn many lessons it would seem from those floods, as a year later a smiling Cranston Mayor Fung celebrated the opening of a new Stop & Shop on the banks of the Pawtuxet.

Will we learn any lessons from our 2013 beach closures wake-up call?

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10 reasons why the Apponaug Circulator is ‘not ready to go’

The Providence streetcar project is not the only TIGER grant application coming from Rhode Island. RIDOT has also submitted an application for the Apponaug Circulator Long-term Improvements Project .

The Mayor has thrown his support behind the streetcar however the Governor (former Mayor of Warwick) is not on board, saying through a spokesperson to WPRI that the streetcar project is, “not ready to go.”

I contend that it is the Apponaug project is not ready to go, here’s why:

apponaug-4-corners

RIDOT rendering of Four Corners in Apponaug.

1. 20th century traffic solutions

The one-way circulation as it exists today was a temporary response to the construction of the Post Road Extension by-pass built in the 1970’s. High-speed traffic from that bypass was dumped into the one-way circulation to reach Routes 117 and 1 at the southern side of Apponaug.

The current circulator project seeks to relieve problems cause by heavy through traffic and fix “numerous roadway deficiencies [that] exist along all legs the circulator, including narrow lane widths, narrow or nonexistent shoulder widths, insufficient horizontal curves, poor curb reveal, and poorly defined curb openings.” At the same time, it seeks to improve the environment for area businesses, pedestrians, and cyclists.

These wide lanes, wide shoulders, broad curves, and etc. are exactly what make a village center environment such as Apponaug a poor place for pedestrians and cyclists and by extension, a poor place to run a business. This kind of engineering perpetuates the high-speed movement of automobiles and will not help get pass-through traffic to stop and patronize area businesses.

Basically, these conditions extend the road environment of the Post Road Extension straight through Apponaug.

2. Walkability

While the plan calls for reducing the section of Post Road between Four Corners and Williams Corner, the main historic business district, to one lane and installing curb extensions leading to raised crosswalks through that section, the rest of the roadways through the project feature four-lane arterials with wide shoulders; not an ideal environment for pedestrians.

The project features four roundabouts and one tear-shaped not quite roundabout at Williams Corner. While the proposal claims that, “A key characteristic of roundabouts is their ability to handle pedestrian crossings safely,” I’m dubious about the safety of pedestrians in any roundabout that has two-lanes of high-speed traffic moving in each direction. ‘Yield to pedestrians’ and speed limit signs can be put up all over the place, but traffic will move at the speed the road is engineered to allow it to move at.

The business district portion has good pedestrian enhancements, the rest of the project area is not ideal and continues to cut pedestrians off from the surrounding areas.

Continue Reading →

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Warwick Beacon: RI Mall to have new life as home to big box retailers

…Winstanley sees the potential to attract larger retailers that are not yet present in the area, though he said it was premature to name any specifically.

Depending on retailer demands, Winstanley said the building could house either two or four large stores.

The preliminary phases of the project will continue over the next six to nine months, but Winstanley said people shouldn’t expect to see the mall re-open for at least two years. He said it will take at least a year to design and plan out the project and at least another year for construction.

Hasn’t the recession taught us that the age of the Big Box is coming to a close? Are there any retailers left to attract that aren’t already on Route 2?

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USDOT issues Rhode Island more discretionary grants

Interlink

Interlink in Warwick

Recently, the Federal Transportation Adminstration issued two grants for RIPTA and now RIDOT is recieving Federal Highway Administration grants for three projects.

Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment (IBRD) Program • $360,000

Browning Mill Bridge carrying Arcadia road over Roaring Brook: The project uses relatively new bridge replacement technology known as “Bridge in Backpack.” Construction time for this innovative construction method is much faster than the conventional cast-in-place construction technique, improving safety and minimizing traffic impact.

Interstate Maintenance Discretionary (IMD) Program • $3,341,000

I-95 Pawtucket River Bridge Reconstruction Project in Providence*: The project will replace a structurally deficient interstate bridge (between exits 27 and 28 in Pawtucket) that was constructed in 1958 to carry 60,000 vehicles per day but now carries approximately 162,000 vehicles per day.

Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program (TCSP) • $400,000

Warwick Station Transit Oriented Development Economic Development Implementation Plan: TCSP funds will help advance the economic development outreach for a proposed transit project in Warwick.

* This is actually for the Pawtucket River Bridge in Pawtucket, I don’t know why it says Providence, maybe Providence County.

Via: Transportation Nation

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No more excuses, back on the bike.

Morning CommuteWe may not be past solstice yet, but it sure feels like spring is here. Now that we have a bit more daylight in the evenings, I’m out of excuses; it’s time to get back on the bike.

Yesterday I did my first bike commute of the season. The morning ride to work wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected despite sand on the roads and a relatively new scrap-metal yard on my route.

I live in Providence, but my office is in Warwick on the oh-so-bicycle-friendly Jefferson Boulevard. This last stretch of ride is the only time I find safety in riding on a sidewalk. No, it’s not ideal, but sharing the right-most of 4 lanes with tractor-trailers, pothole craters, and sand is just too scary for this guy. Instead, I trudge through about a mile of sandy sidewalk, weaving around grossly parked cars in adjacent lots, before ducking into the safety of a parking lot and side street that leads to my building.

I felt great on the ride in, such a beautiful morning. In the evening, it was even warmer. When I hopped back on the bike and headed down the street, I quickly realized which muscles had not been maintained over the winter…

I recently got my first GoPro camera, so I look forward to making some videos of my adventures. This video, by my friend Peter, not only got me interested in these cameras, but seriously makes me realize I need more Rule #5 want to get back on the bike every time I watch it.

Six Days to Glover from Peter Gengler on Vimeo.

Today, am I sore, but I am excited to be back at it. I need somebody to make me a shirt to wear while I’m biking that says “I’m blogging this.”

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RIAC & Warwick City Council reach agreement on airport runway expansion

Interlink

Providence Business News has information on the agreement between the Warwick City Council and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) which will allow the runway expansion project at T.F. Green to finally move forward.

The agreement includes details on which houses in the area will be taken or sound-proofed, provisions to relocate a ball field which will be taken by the expansion, agreements on monitoring air and water in the area, and signage and promotional materials about Warwick.

Continue Reading →

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Treasurer’s Offices move to location with free parking, pathetic bus service

Google Map

Image from Google Maps

The Treasurer’s Office has announced that the divisions of Unclaimed Property, Investment and Cash Management as well as the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program and the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI) will be moving from their current downtown Providence location to 50 Service Avenue in Warwick, effective Monday.

While the Press Release from the Treasurer’s office touts the benefits of this new location (emphasis mine):

“Moving the majority of Treasury divisions to this state-owned facility will help streamline operations and allow staff to serve constituents more efficiently and effectively,” Raimondo said. “Better parking, easy highway access and improved meeting space are all positive changes that should enhance the public’s interaction with Treasury.”

…it fails to point out the massive draw back for those unable to travel by car, the bus service on Jefferson Boulevard, SUCKS!

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Commuter Rail service to T.F. Green to increase

Commuter Rail train at T.F. Green Station

MBTA Commuter Rail train at T.F. Green Station. Photo from RIDOT.

The Governor, RIDOT, and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation announced today that MBTA commuter rail service to T.F. Green Airport’s station at the Interlink will almost double starting November 14th.

The biggest gripe about the Interlink service since it started last December has been the timing of the trains. Few people have been able to take advantage of the train service to connect to flights at the airport. The initial service was always set to increase once the station at Wickford Junction came online and initial service was more catered to commuters heading to Boston than to people needing to reach the airport. Wickford Junction station is slated to come online sometime in April (it is currently ahead of schedule!); this early boost in T.F. Green service is welcome news.

Continue Reading →

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RI receives $1.6 million in grants from the Federal Highway Administration

Interlink

View from the Interlink in Warwick.

Governor Chafee, RIDOT, announce Federal transportation grant award

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded $1.6 million in grants to Rhode Island for a series of road and bridge projects. The grants are among a nationwide distribution of funds which RIDOT applied for earlier this summer.

The grants include:

  • $847,860 for projects related to transit-oriented development in the area of the train station at the InterLink facility at T.F. Green State Airport.
  • A waiver of the customary 20 percent state match (valued at approximately $600,000) for replacement of the East Shore Expressway Bridge in East Providence.
  • $350,000 for replacement of three structurally deficient bridges in and near the Arcadia Management Area in Exeter.
  • $250,260 for training to help disadvantaged business enterprises prepare to compete for Federal highway contracts.
  • $225,000 to provide additional training to help individuals prepare for careers in highway construction.
  • “I believe that one of the most valuable investments our state can make is in our infrastructure,” Governor Chafee said. “These federal grants will help Rhode Island plan for the future, in addition to strengthening our infrastructure-related construction economy. I am particularly pleased that a significant portion of the funds will go toward further developing Warwick’s Station District. As Mayor and U.S. Senator, I fought to make the InterLink project a reality and I look forward to seeing the advancements and improvements these funds will enable.”

    The largest of the grants for projects near the T.F. Green Station is provided under FHWA’s Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program. The funds will be used to advance and implement the Warwick Station Development District Master Plan developed by the City of Warwick. The Plan is expected to guide approximately 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development. It envisions a highly-visible, mixed-use, transit-oriented growth center within walking distance of a full range of transportation and live/work options. The City is seeking to capitalize on the public investment in multimodal transportation infrastructure by promoting high-value, mixed-use development to attract visitors and business people who use the station and airport while providing a center of opportunity for new development.

    “Having well-developed streets and sidewalks is a key component of integrating the InterLink into the City of Warwick and supporting the District for future development,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “The end result is a better connection between the City, the Airport, the InterLink and the T.F. Green commuter rail station.”

It is great to see RIDOT and the Governor value mixed-use development in the Warwick Station area. Jefferson Boulevard and the areas around the train station and the airport have great potential to be a second city for Rhode Island. It has to be developed to be a place where people want to be, that is scaled to people, not their cars. Otherwise it will be just another soul-sucking office park.

The rest of the Press Release:

Continue Reading →

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An Evening by the Bay

Back in January, Rhode Island suffered a terrible loss when the Edgewood Yacht Club burned. More than just a landmark building, the club, the neighbors, and the community all feel the loss of this Edgewood institution.

Since the fire, the Edgewood Sailing School has determined to press on. Much of the fleet and docks survived, but most of the necessary equipment need to be replaced, and they could use your help.

This weekend we will be holding our fundraiser at the house of George and Stephanie Shuster in Warwick. This is our community event to raise money to replace what the school lost in the fire of January 2011 at the Edgewood Yacht Club.

Since the fire, all this spring our board, volunteers and staff have been hard at work to rebuild the Sailing School. We have been raising money, collecting donated equipment and marketing our programs to youths and adults in the area – sending a strong message that we will be on the water again this summer. Likewise, the Yacht Club is also making a strong push towards being ready to open on time.

The community is responding. The support is generous. And, with some classes already full to capacity, the Sailing School has a Youth program enrollment that is as strong as it has ever been.

At this moment we are filling the coffers so that we can go forward and purchase items that we lost in the fire. This fundraiser event is one important step in helping us to rebuild. We hope that you will enjoy the occasion. We need your help. Please consider coming.

This Saturday’s event is from 5-7 PM. You may see more details and RSVP here.

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Putting a cone on the Rhode Island Mall

midlandmall 1970

Midland Mall in c.1970. Photo from Labelscar.com

Now that the owners have made it official, the Midland Rhode Island Mall will now, officially, be a dead mall, now what?

Speculation has long been that the holders of the master lease, Royal Ahold, parent company of Stop & Shop, was sitting on the property to keep the Walmart at the mall from expanding into a Supercenter, which would compete with area Stop & Shops. I imagine if Walmart wanted a Supercenter in the area, they’d find a way to open one. It’s not like Walmart has never closed a store before to open a bigger one.

Continue Reading →

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Bike Commute Report – Day 1

Friday’s record breaking temperatures and last weekend’s ride on the bikepath had me pretty psyched to get an early start (for me) to the bike-commuting season. As you might expect, the roads are in tough shape. The potholes and sand made for a pretty tricky ride. At minimum, half the width of all the bike lanes along my route were full of sand and debris, and, in some places, craters left from utility repairs.

Even so, it was great to be out there again. I took it at a very leisurely pace. I tell myself it was so that I’d be prepared to stop or swerve from the obstacles ahead, but after a lazy off-season, I’m not sure my body would have propelled me much faster anyway.

As I made my way down Allens Ave (yes, still going that way…), I felt as though I was being teased by the strip clubs smells of home fries wafting from the Seaplane and OV’s diners. Though, my appetite was soon lost as I biked past a dead bird in the road.

Continue Reading →

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Ride on the Interlink

Yesterday I decided to return my rental car early to the airport, rather than today to Dorrance Street (glad I did). So after dropping off the car, I took a ride on the Interlink:

Interlink

Interlink

The rental car area is like an airport check in. It looks quite nice actually.

Interlink

Interlink

Interlink

I actually walked most of the way, but some people took the moving sidewalks as an opportunity to relax (and enjoy the view?).

Interlink

Interlink

Interlink

Interlink

I thought it was nice and shiny and clean, and importantly yesterday, warm.

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Looking back at my first season of bike commuting

Given the recent discussions about the bikepaths, I wanted to share my story of commuting by bike for the first time this year. Though I live in Providence, my office is not downtown, but in Warwick.

I did it! I set out to bike to work at least once a week during the warmer months, and I did – about 13 miles each way.

The Route

My office is located on a commercial-industrial 4-lane street. Though my company is a small team of (mostly) engineers, our location is in close proximity to many truck-intensive companies such as Waste-Management, UPS, Fedex, and Ryder. The primary means of accessing our location is from the highway. In fact, the northern end of our street (Jefferson Blvd) ends at highway ramps. Needless to say, the last mile would be the toughest.

Though there is a relatively direct route along route 1 (Elmwood Ave) from downtown Providence, this road would involve heavy traffic, many traffic lights, and an overall feeling of bad. This approach would also take me down Post Road which becomes the secondary path to the airport. Again, not a place I feel comfortable on two wheels.

Instead, I found a route that takes me primarily through residential neighborhoods and along the coast. Many of these streets even have bike lanes or at least share-the-road signage. Along this route, I found that for the most part I could avoid the busy streets (Elmwood, Post, 117) and simply cross them at traffic lights when necessary. Parts of this ride are truly spectacular. Narragansett Blvd, through Edgewood and Pawtuxet villages are quite beautiful and include views of Narragansett Bay.

Seriously, there is no better way to get to or from work.

The Fall-back

On a couple occasions, including my first test rides, I either wasn’t quite up for the return trip or the weather was unfavorable. On these occasions, I was fortunate enough to hop on the bus. Luckily in RI, almost all of our buses are equipped with bike racks able to carry 2 bikes. Another blessing is that there is a bus that follows my bike route pretty closely. I think if something should go wrong en-route, I could always hop on the next bus to or from the office.

The Challenges

There are certainly some challenges beyond pedaling 13 miles. The terrain can be a little unforgiving. By that I mean, potholes, debris, glass, and sand clog even the bike lanes. I can only remember one occasion this season where it was clear the streets had been swept.

I already mentioned the traffic I’m up against on the roads near my office. This is probably one of the scariest places, so for this stretch, I hop on the sidewalk. I’m not usually a sidewalk cyclist, but literally no one walks around here, so I have it to myself. Additionally, crossing the four lanes of traffic is so amazingly difficult that I stick to the intersection with the traffic lights and get right in line with the traffic to make sure I’m well seen. Unfortunately, this means I have to be on the sidewalk and on the wrong side of the road for the last mile.

To make things worse, this sidewalk sucks. This road contains a lot of surface parking and the lots abut the sidewalks, so naturally cars overhang into my travel space, and of course those pulling out of the lots never expect to see a bike coming towards them. The sidewalk is also covered in sand in places, and nearest my office, the curb cuts are not ramped.

Another minor challenge is that my office doesn’t have a shower. I wish it did… then again, I wish my office were downtown, too. To get around the shower thing, I basically make sure I shower really well before I leave. I bring a complete change of clothes to work and also something to towel off with. I get pretty sweaty, but I find if I’m clean, I get out of any damp clothes, and I dry off, I’m fairly unoffensive. Just need to brush out the helmet hair.

The Schedule

I commuted by bike about once a week from April until October. In total: 24 round trips; about 624 miles! And according to my iPhone app Cyclemeter, my last ride, both to and from work, were personal records with the ride in taking 53 minutes and the ride home 52 minutes. This was a great way to finish the season!

Unfortunately, October 26th was my last bike commute. Not so much because of the cold, but because of the dark. Though I have blinky lights, bright clothes, and reflectors, I had a scare on one of the last rides where I was moving along pretty well (around 20mph with traffic) when I went over an unseen rock. I didn’t fall, but my heart certainly skipped a beat.

If the roads were better lit, and I didn’t have to worry about potholes, sand mounds, sticks, and general debris, I’d be happy to bike most of the year. I know some people that continue all year, and maybe some day I will, but I still feel like a rookie, and I’m just not there yet.

The Rewards

It’s still pretty cool to tell people I bike to work in Warwick from Providence. Coasting through the city in the morning as people are just getting out is a great feeling. I also love the views just south of Pawtuxet Village. The leaves in the fall are magnificent, and the summer mornings with the sailboats on their moorings are spectacular. I feel pretty good, too. Some days, I just want to keep riding.

The Future

As soon as the winter sand piles are cleaned up on the edge of the roads, I will be back on two wheels this spring. Hopefully this year I can step it up to two or more rides per week, but it’s the after-work schedule that often gets in the way. Not necessarily that I can’t bike to those engagements, but it’s nice to get back before dark, and be able to have a shower when I’m done with my ride.

I’d love to hear from more bike commuters. Does anyone else do a similar route?

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For realz this time. Commuter rail to T.F. Green Dec. 6


Photo (cc) Mr. Ducke

It is not a trick, RIDOT issued a press release and everything. Commuter Rail service to T.F. Green starts on December 6th.

Trains will depart from T.F. Green, inbound to Providence/South Station, at the following times:

  • 6:13 a.m.; 6:52 a.m.; 7:15 a.m. – To Providence and South Station
  • 6:27 p.m.; 7:36 p.m.; 7:51 p.m. – To Providence only, change train at 8:12 p.m. to continue to South Station

Trains will arrive at T.F. Green, outbound from Providence/South Station, at the following times:

  • 6:01 a.m.; 6:25 a.m. – Arriving from Providence only
  • 6:17 p.m.; 6:53 p.m.; 7:26 p.m. – Arriving from South Station and Providence

The one-way fare between Providence and the airport it only $0.25 more than it costs to take the bus.

Ticket fares will vary by distance traveled. Travel between T.F. Green and Providence constitutes travel in two zones and costs $2.25 each way. Travel between T.F. Green and Boston costs $8.25 each way. Seniors and persons with disabilities get 50 percent off. Children age 11 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Monthly passes for unlimited travel between Providence and T.F. Green cost $77. Monthly passes for unlimited travel between T.F. Green and Boston cost $265, which also includes travel on all MBTA buses and subways and the Inner Harbor Ferry.

Schedule information can be found on the MBTA website. Fare information can be found at here.

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