Greater City Providence

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

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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!

This is all the bus service from Kennedy Plaza to Jefferson Boulevard (RIPTA Route 8):

Leave Kennedy Plaza Arrive Jefferson Blvd.
& Route 95
6:05am 6:23am
6:35am 6:53am
7:33am 7:51am
8:08am 8:26am
3:37pm 3:55pm
4:45pm 5:03pm
5:15pm 5:33pm

Assuming the office opens at 8:30am and closes at 5:00pm (I couldn’t quickly track down office hours online), That leaves a grand total of two buses that arrive during those hours.

The Fountain Street location is steps from Kennedy Plaza, accessible to pretty much every bus route in the state. To get to Jefferson Boulevard, most people would need to take a bus from wherever they are, to Kennedy Plaza, then get the bus to Jefferson Boulevard.

Plus, once you get to Jefferson Boulevard, you need to then get back. If one were to take the bus that arrives at 8:26am, their first available bus back to Providence after that, leaves at 3:15pm. Have you ever been to Jefferson Boulevard? There’s precious little to do to kill nearly 7 hours there.

The building is conveniently located off Jefferson Boulevard and offers free parking for visitors.

Convenient to whom?

After about 20 years at its current Providence location, Treasury committed to moving its divisions during Treasurer Frank Caprio’s administration. Treasury’s move to the new facility should save the state about $450,000 in annual expenses and rent.

I’m all about the state saving money, but how much time, effort, and money will be wasted by those who cannot access this new “convenient” location by car?

The state has acres of under-utilized land on Smith Hill which could be redeveloped to consolidate state services. There’s also acres of land at our second capital in Cranston, around the Pastore Complex. While it is far from the main state offices on Smith Hill, the Pastore Center has much better (though still not ideal) public transit options than Jefferson Boulevard, making it truly accessible for all Rhode Islanders, not just those who most highly value free parking and highway access.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • In fairness to the State, what % of the “patrons” of this office get there by public transportation? I willing to guess it’s a small number. So, in your opinion the majority of patrons should have to deal with lousy parking conditions, and the State should spend a half-million more a year (apparently, you haven’t seen the Budget shortfalls) to accomodate the minority of people’s CONVINENCE (since – as you’ve state – you CAN get there by public transport, it’s just not ideal).

    REALLY?!?!? Sorry, I have ZERO sympathy.

  • @Tom, it seems like you intended to leave your comment on

    Since the building houses the Victims Compensation Fund, and the State Employees Retirement Fund, I’d be willing to bet that plenty of people who need to visit the office would do so on public transportation. Also, Jeff forgot to mention that you need to hike from the bus stop on Jefferson down Service Road, which doesn’t even have sidewalks.

    The numbers of people aside, $450,000 per year is a lot of money, but represents only .005% of the state’s $7.7 billion budget. It does represent a larger chunk of the $331 million budget deficit: 0.1%.

    Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to measure the costs of moving the facility. You probably won’t buy the climate change argument, or the larger argument about the true cost of the car to our society.

  • Yes, I can get there by public transit if I arrive at 8:30am and wait on the sidewalk for 6.5 hours for a return trip home. I should have realized that that is tolerable, but parking in one of the surface lots on either side of the current downtown location, or the garage half a block away, or the other garage one block away, or at one of the many available street parking spaces is more inconvenient.

    I should show more sympathy for the plight of people who have to park their car and walk 30 feet. I’m ever so sorry.

  • Actually, I _do_ buy the climate change argument and the true cost of car ownership. However, I _also_ consider the REALITY FACTOR – that being MOST (and close to ALL) of the people going there WILL drive (or be driven). MOST (if not close to ALL) of the people who went to the OLD facility drove or were driven. I – personally – have NEVER gone to a State office (In Rhode Island) via ANY other method.

    State offices MUST be publically accessable. THIS OFFICE IS. End of discussion. Yes, it’s not IDEAL, but they also don’t serve you milk and cookies while you’re waiting in line – SUCK IT UP. The FIRST priority of ANY State office is it MUST serve it’s purpose in the MOST accessible manor for the LEAST amount of expense. In my humble opinion they have MET that burden.

  • Well, I disagree with your opinion.

    State offices MUST be publically accessable.

    The office on Fountain Street was publicly accessible to everyone. The new one in Warwick limits accessibility to those with cars, access to friends or relatives with cars, or those willing and able to make a 7+ hour round trip on a bus. As Andrew points out, the street the new office is on has no sidewalks making it quite dangerous for those arriving via bus (especially someone with a mobility impairment).

    I – personally – have NEVER gone to a State office (In Rhode Island) via ANY other method.

    I personally have never gone to a Rhode Island state office via any method other than car or foot. So, your accessibility trumps mine?

  • Tom, this office isn’t very accessible, at least when judged against its Providence location. So, if you say that the first priority of the state is to balance accessibility and costs when it places its offices, it has clearly favored cutting costs over accessibility. This is not a balance.

  • This illustrates the ‘tragedy of the commons” – everyone (almost everyone) maximizes their own personal convenience by wanting everything where there is easy, free parking. The result: the “commons” (the atmosphere, the quality of urban life, remaining natural areas, the economy subject to draining to pay for imported oil…) is being ruined for all.

    It also illustrates a fundamental problem for central Providence: not enough easy, free parking to be attractive or to do without transit service entirely, but too much parking for transit to succeed. It will be tough to break this cycle before Providence has the density of Jefferson blvd – a few office buildings and a sea of parking lots. That is the reality Tom in effect is advocating for.

  • I know a great (12 mile) bike route to the new location. Won’t you join me? Just look out for the broken glass, vehicles, and trash along the way.

    Speaking of, I’m all in favor of improving Jefferson Blvd in terms of its accessibility! REBOOT!

    Personally, I think it would make more sense to have all the state service offices located in the state capital. Isn’t that why we have state capitals?

  • It looks to be about a 3/4 mile walk from TF Green Station to this location (with a Honey Dew Donuts and a D’Angelo’s sub shop on the way – not to mention the Iron Works Tavern at the Hilton Garden Inn and the Jefferson Grille).

    Again, not ideal, but if you put the bus and TF Green commuter rail schedule together, it gets better. The train leaves Providence at 8:22am and arrives at 8:39am, 11:00am to 11:17am, and 2:59pm to 3:16pm. Return trains leave at 9:23am, 11:45am, and 3:50pm. Cost is $2.25 each way. For those who don’t mind a longer walk, take bus 14 or 20 to TF Green, use the Skywalk to the InterLink, then up Jefferson. There are about 60 14’s + 20’s on weekdays.

    Again, not ideal, but some other options…

  • @barry, mental: Or, I can pay $1 to park at Providence Place for 3 hours and walk across the street to the current Fountain Street location.

    I think we’ve discussed it here endlessly that downcity has plenty of parking, and that parking shouldn’t be free.

  • Living in greater Hartford ,you can all realize that it’s a small move compared to The CT. government nearly having two state capitals:Hartford&Rocky hill.Warwick will continue to give the metro area a barbell map.You have emerging transportation corridors.What are you all complaining about.
    Big or Medium metros nationwide have thought consolidation and have consolidated(Louisville,Raleigh).18 sq. mi. is not enough land to keep a 1.6million metro totally central.Providence will work with her fellow central cities;Pawtucket,Cranston,&Woonsocket.New Bedford,Fall River, Taunton.
    A great example of density.
    You are way ahead of CT.

  • If they can’t handle going to Providence for their jobs, perhaps they should just quit.

  • What SK said.

    Oh, and it’s now $2 to park for up to 5 hours at the mall.

    I’m with Jef. All state services/offices should be in the capital. At least in our case, it’s the most accessible city in the state for EVERYONE. I never have a problem parking downtown when I need to go there. Heck, if I have to go there during the day, I choose to take the bus because it’s far more convenient and far less expensive than to pay for parking. How about that?

    Tom, you’re just wrong. I’m sorry. As a regular driver, Jefferson Blvd is not easily accessible. I would MUCH rather drive downtown and pay to park than drive to Jefferson Blvd with free parking.

    And Claude… if you saw the massive parking lots surrounding our state offices in Providence, you would see that there’s no reason for our state offices to move outside the city. There’s no reason our state employees NEED to drive to work (except that they can’t be seen mingling with the lower class citizens on the bus). I don’t care how far ahead we are with our density. There is still plenty of room to increase it without inconveniencing people.

  • Matthew is right the Jefferson Blvd corridor should be looked at as a REBOOT. As mental757 pointed out 50 Service Road is only 3/4s of a mile from the new garage/train station. If Jefferson Blvd. was lined with retail shops and street trees along its sidewalks, no one would complain about a 15 minute walk to a train station or 20 minute walk to more frequent bus service at the airport terminal.

    TF Green Airport is a piece of urban infrastructure and the Jefferson Blvd. area is an extension of the airport. This mature suburban industrial/office district now has a variety elements that could aid in developing it into a high-density central business district (CBD)|an airport, commuter rail, bus service (granted currently weak and fragmented), and yes easy highway access.

    A pedestrian-oriented airport CBD linked by commuter rail could help reinforce development and density in central Providence and other parts of the metro area. As more commuter rail stations are added, rail could become the driver for the transformation of this region.

    Connecticut’s main Metro North line and New Jersey’s Northeast Corridor line have similar in densities and mix of communities to the Providence area, independent of New York, with cities, industrial towns, and suburban towns, all of which are interconnected by both highways and trains. The result has been extensive commercial development distributed along each corridor over the last few decades. Even more desperate communities like Newark and Norwalk have benefited.

    What’s needed is a vision.

  • Seconding Matt’s comment about the state capitol, I have to point out that if a location in central Providence can be considered inaccessible, then it’s time to blow up the state.

  • What about all the employees who previously used public transportation to get to their jobs in downtown Providence? How many of them now have to figure out how to get there by hook or by crook? The state should most certainly NOT be subsidizing parking for employees (never mind for visitors to the office) when there is loads of room for offices in Providence proper.

    I can’t help but wonder who is lobbying on behalf of Providence these days when we hear stories about how the state is literally abandoning the city for the suburbs…

  • I’ve heard that the Providence Foundation was not happy about the employees that were in that office decamping from Downcity. The Providence Foundation however expresses its displeasure quietly in meetings. Perhaps it is time for the Providence Foundation to be more public and less polite about things like this.

  • Believe me, most of the employees weren’t happy with this move either. This was part of a political stunt by a former Treasurer hoping to look good by saving a few dollars. It just took longer than expected.
    Most of the agencies relocated to this building have extensive interaction with other state agencies – never mind the public. Now because of the move, a lot of other state employees have to hop in a car to do business with these agencies where previously they could just walk.
    I should mention that this building was purchased to be a data center (as it was designed to be initially) and not for agencies that deal with the public. Yes, a good portion of the building is taken up by the State’s Dept of Info Technology, but other computer-centric agencies balked at moving there. That’s when the former Treasurer jumped in.
    Most of these agencies that fall under the Treasurer do deal with the public and would have been better placed in existing State buildings. The public would have been better served moving the Treasurer’s departments to the Administration building on Capitol Hill. Other agencies that deal less with the public now currently in the Admin building should have been moved down to Jefferson Blvd. A win-win for everyone 😉

  • Assuming we have little legislative support for tax increases, the move saves a lot of money and therefore makes a lot of financial sense. Case closed.

  • Do you know for sure it saves a lot or any money? If state workers now have to drive from Warwick to Providence and vice versa to meet with each other, do you imagine those workers will not be putting in expense reports for those trips for example.

    A press release makes a claim about savings and suddenly the case is closed? No questions?

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