Greater City Providence

Two stories about the 195 Commission today

195 Land aerial. Photo © RIDOT.

First in the Journal; “A step forward for vacant land – Former Route 195 land less polluted than anticipated, reducing one of many hurdles

The prime real estate in the heart of the capital city now available for development after the Route 195 relocation project got an environmental green light on Monday night from an engineering team.

Environmental studies by the firm Fuss & O’Neill show the former highway land is in far better shape than its past use might have suggested, engineer John A. Chambers told the Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission at its monthly meeting.

“This is fantastic news,” said Chambers, a vice president with the firm hired by the commission to conduct civil, environmental and transportation engineering. “I felt like Chicken Little telling you at previous meetings what we might find. I’m ecstatic we didn’t find it.”

Then, from the Providence Business News; “I-195 Commission worries over budget

The commission managing the former Interstate-195 lands considered the $900,000 in this year’s state budget the minimum needed each year to redevelop and maintain the downtown properties. But I-195 Commission Chairman Colin Kane said Monday that state budget officials have told him they expect that money to last three years.

“It was a surprise,” Kane said about learning from budget officials representing the governor, House and Senate leadership last Wednesday that they did not expect to repeat the fiscal 2013 appropriation in the budget for next year. “There is surely a minimum standard that clearly I didn’t [previously] articulate strongly enough.”

I have to assume it never occurred to anyone at the State House to set a budget for this Commission before creating it.

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.


  • Has anyone heard any rumors as to when the city streets will be built out? I read on the DOT website it was supposed to start late 2012, but nothing more specific that that.

  • My understanding is the streetgrid should be built starting in 2013, perhaps as soon as the spring. The environmental assessment referenced in the Journal story was one of the things that needed to be done prior to that happening.

    As for what they are doing with their money. They are expected to maintain the land until it sells, clearing trash, landscaping (though the wild flower look it has taken on this summer is quite nice actually), snow removal… They are also set to hire an Executive Director who will need to be paid (the Commission itself is unpaid).

    Theoretically, they would be responsible for maintaining the parks that are proposed, though that does not necessarily need to be the case. Though the City does not want them, a private conservancy could be set up to maintain and program them which (as a member of the Board of the Providence Downtown Parks Conservancy) I think would be a much better outcome than the Commission having that responsibility. Also, the funds for the various studies they need to do to prepare the land for marketing and development come from somewhere.

    Further incidentals such as Insurance, administrative staff (currently supplied by the EDC as I understand it), office needs… add up.

    I can see them perhaps needing more than $300k per year, but am not sure I see the need for $900k per year.

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