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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – August 20, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
August 20, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
  • 4:35 – Katie Goodrum, Congress for the New Urbanism – CNU and impacts on bike/ped in Providence
  • 4:55 – Sidewalk access during construction – Continued discussion
  • 5:10 – Road and sidewalk conditions in the Wickenden/South Main area – RIDOT communication
  • 5:20 – Butler Ave. at Waterman and S. Angell signal timing
  • 5:25 – Roadwork Report, Nate Urso, Providence DPW
  • 5:40 – James Kennedy, Providence (Park)ing Day
  • 5:55 – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program – Providence proposal update (staff)
  • 6:00 – Adjourn

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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GC: Photos

While we’re waiting for Sandy, let’s look at some photos. First up, this image of Sandy herself (himself?) from NASA:

NASA Satellites See Sandy Expand as Storm Intensifies

Photo (cc) NASA Goddard Photo and Video
NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of the massive Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1615 UTC (12:02 p.m. EDT). The line of clouds from the Gulf of Mexico north are associated with the cold front that Sandy is merging with. Sandy’s western cloud edge is already over the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.

If you carefully take photos related to Hurricane Sandy this week, please share them in our Flickr Group.

Poirier's Diner

Photo © Ken Zirkel.

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195 Wickenden Street exit to close temporarily this weekend

RIDOT will be closing Exit 2 (South Main Street) off of Route 195 westbound this weekend. The closure will allow RIDOT to reconfigure the ramp and prepare for further demolition of the old Route 195.

RIDOT:

On Friday night, June 4, RIDOT will begin a weekend-long operation to relocate the ramp for Exit 2 (South Main Street) from I-195 West. The ramp’s entrance and exit point will be changing, and for the first time there will be a traffic signal at the end of the ramp.

In order to complete the work necessary to relocate the ramp, RIDOT will close Exit 2 for the entire weekend. The ramp will be reopened before the morning commute on Monday, June 7. Motorists seeking access to the East Side of Providence should use Exit 3 (Gano Street) or Exit 1A (Point Street) during this time.

Exit 2 currently carries motorists on a bridge over Wickenden Street and then merges into South Main Street. The new off ramp will meet Wickenden Street at a traffic signal. The new intersection will feature three lanes, and allow access to Wickenden Street, Point Street and South Main Street in the following manner:

  • Left lane is for left turns onto Point Street. Motorists also can proceed straight onto South Main Street.
  • Center lane allows through traffic onto South Main Street only.
  • Right lane allows right turns onto Wickenden Street only and provides access to Benefit Street.

Images from RIDOT

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Can I get there from here?

The ProJo recently covered the story of retailers feeling cut off by the reconfiguration of Route 195. On the old alignment of Route 195, Exit 2 went to Wickenden Street and the big green sign on the overpass said as much. Now, the eastbound exit which one would use to reach Wickenden is simply signed for India Point and Gano Street, much to the chagrin of business owners on Wickenden.

I hate that this is such an autocentric problem, but I’m sure it is true. When there is no Wickenden Street exit, people can’t find the street.

This video shows how to reach Wickenden and some of the shops on the street:

RIDOT is responding to the concerns of the business owners and plans to experiment with some signage for Wickenden Street. RIDOT will look into placing smaller signs on Route 195 alerting motorists to use the Gano Street exit to reach Wickenden. And on Route 195 Westbound, the new South Main Street exit will have Wickenden Street listed on the big green signs on Route 195.

This is indicative though of the city falling short when it comes to wayfinding. RIDOT can put all the signs they want on Route 195, but there needs to be better signage on city streets.

The sign above on Route 195 westbound is before the Washington Bridge. It tells drivers to use Exit 2 to reach Benefit Street, Brown, RISD, and Johnson & Wales. That exit leads you onto South Main Street so you will eventually arrive in the middle of RISD’s South Main campus area, but I challenge you to pretend you don’t know, and rely on signage to try to reach Benefit Street, Brown, and J&W from Exit 2.

Sitges, Spain
Sitges, Spain. Photo by Jef Nickerson

To make our city truly visitor friendly and to help customers reach business districts, Providence really needs to invest in a comprehensive wayfinding system.

Where’s Wickenden video via Providence Daily Dose

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Debra Booth: The other end of Wickenden Street

We’ve spent a lot of pixels here talking about the intersection between Route 195 and Wickenden Street on the west side of Fox Point. Debra Booth forwarded us a letter they sent to city and state officials addressing concerns about the other end of Wickenden, where the Gano Street ramps are:

To: Mayor David Cicilline, Councilman Seth Yurdin, Representative David Segal, Senator Rhoda Perry, House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, Rhode Island Department of Transportation

From: Debra Booth and David Cosier, Residents of Fox Point
Date: 11 April 2010
RE: Concerns about the I-195 Project

My husband and I live in Fox Point, in a house we bought 3 years ago. I am a Designer and Teacher and my husband is an Art Director for film and television. We like our neighborhood and especially like the refurbished India Point Park and walking to the various shops along Wickenden Street. The new pedestrian bridge connecting our neighborhoods with the park is a great addition as well. We have invested in this neighborhood and the community. It was our understanding that the highway project was meant to reconnect the neighborhood to its shoreline and India Point Park. However, we have some real concerns about the highway project as it has evolved and its interface with our neighborhood. Providence has a great opportunity to provide leadership and innovation to working with urban neighborhoods. We certainly have the will and talent in this city to do it differently.

The areas of most concern for us cover the area on the map below coded in pink.

mapThere are several important “quality of life” issues facing Fox Point, the city and DOT:

  • Higher noise levels
  • Safety issues (especially where there is direct access to the highway-near a public park and elementary school).
  • Air quality
  • Aesthetic neighborhood enhancement (rather than lowering property values and destruction—and flight from the neighborhood)

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195 Street Grid Part 5: A look at lot sizes

In Part 4 much of the discussion revolved around lot sizes.

Comment by Corey

Call me naive, but personally, I would take some of the parcels not targeted for institutional use, subdivide them, and then sell the subdivided lots individually; much more in line with what would have been done in the 18th or 19th centuries. [...] It also allows a lot of building form regulations to be relaxed without risking so much insensitive development.

  • By allowing room for numerous property owners to have building facades on the same block, you’re almost guaranteed not to have a block-long dead space in any part of the district, because a variety of different uses and architecture occupy each street front.
  • By encouraging buildings with smaller footprints, building heights and proportions tend to be harder to abuse, decreasing the need to spend the time and money on the exhaustive specific zoning regarding height, mass, and proportion which tends to scare away developers. If anything should be exhaustively regulated, it’s materials and energy efficiency.
  • Multiple tenants on each block = greater density, and greater variety of uses, which means:
  • A more constant street life at all times of day, as well as greater walkability, and demand for mass transit expansion.

If anything has been proven to work in Providence, it’s the repetition of historical development patterns. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, and plenty of wiggle room for dynamic new buildings within those patterns. The 195 relocation project in and of itself reflects the fact that the city planners realize this. It just needs to be taken one step further in order to really work well here.

Read through the discussion to see more of the conversation.

The massing renderings below show several different configurations of lot sizes on the east side parcels of the 195 redevelopment area:

001-large-lots-full-block

Large full block lots • Click image to enlarge

002-small-lots-some-combined

Small lots, some combined • Click image to enlarge

003-small-lots-after-development-pressure

Mixed lots after development pressure • Click image to enlarge

195_iconThis is the fifth of a series of posts we will be doing about the 195 Street Grid. To view all the posts and more information, please visit our 195 Relocation Project page.

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195 Street Grid Part 1: Wickenden Street area, Ron Henderson

View Larger Map

As the Iway project moves along, RIDOT and the city are looking at the rebuilt street grid below where the highway now stands.


See the RIDOT plans here:

Download RIDOT Street Grid Plan (east of Providence River)
Download RIDOT Street Grid Plan (west of Providence River)


While the rebuilding of the grid may seem to be a simple project of reconnected streets that were removed by the highway, there many issues to consider. The City held two meetings recently to give the public an opportunity to view and comment on the plans. We will be looking at some areas of concern that we have for the proposed grid here at Greater City: Providence. We start off on the east side of the Providence River looking at the Wickenden Street area and looking at an alternate plan proposed by Landscape Architect Ron Henderson of L+A Landscape Architecture of Providence.

First let’s look at RIDOT’s proposal.

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