Some commentary on the final plans released by the State for the 6/10 Connector rebuild.
RI Future: 6-10 Connector plan is way better than it could have been, by Alex Krogh Grabbe Ellis
I’ve been talking up a progressive, urban solution for the 6-10 Connector almost as long as James Kennedy has. So I was excited and cautious and skeptical yesterday at the press event revealing the compromise plan for the corridor negotiated between RIDOT and the City of Providence. There were words from Governor Raimondo, Mayor Elorza, Providence Planning & Development Director Bonnie Nickerson, and RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
As it turns out, I left the room more optimistic than I went in. If everything in the plan gets built as laid out yesterday, I will be pretty pleased. Here are some pros and cons as I see them:
Visit RI Future to read Alex’s full list if Pros, Cons, and Conclusions on the plan.
Transport Providence: Demand a Mile to Get an Inch
The governor used autocratic power to block the fully realistic aspirations of the city, not just to the city’s detriment, but to the state’s. She has failed to be a leader on climate change or racial justice, the two major struggles of our time. The Cheonngyecheon highway-removal in Seould was a success despite carrying 60% more vehicles than 6/10. Any statement on this agreement must acknowledge the ways that Gov. Raimondo has failed future generations of Rhode Islanders by being so obstructive.
I would have liked the mayor to fight a bit harder and more publicly, but that is a sin of omission. His administration, and especially his planning department, deserve more credit for working as hard as they did. I hope the mayor will consider state office someday.
RI Future: Build bridges, not walls, on Tobey Street, by James Kennedy
The 6/10 Connector plan agreed to by Mayor Jorge Elorza and Governor Raimondo calls for a bridge crossing between Tobey Street and Olneyville (it appears to be Grove Street, by my reckoning) on the other side. This is one of the better features of an otherwise lackluster plan. However, the Tobey Street bridge is currently envisioned as a new crossing for local car traffic. Instead, it should be a car-free bridge.
Also, the Fix the 6-10 Coalition released the following statement about the compromise plan:
The Fix the 6-10 Coalition thanks Governor Raimondo, Director Alviti, and Mayor Elorza for their hard work these last months, and congratulates them on reaching a new consensus plan for the reconstruction of the 6-10 Interchange. When this process began earlier this year, many residents from the surrounding neighborhoods and civic organizations were concerned with the possibility that the 6-10 would be reconstructed “as is” with all its many existing faults unaddressed. Through our campaign and the exemplary efforts of City staff over the past months, we are pleased to see that the proposed plan is much improved. While there are certainly aspects of the new plan which could be improved, we recognize the need for pragmatic compromise to help move our City and State forward.
Our Coalition formed to ensure that the many interests held by Rhode Islanders would be represented in the final design, including fiscal sustainability, neighborhood connections, environmental protection, balanced transportation choices, and economic and social development. These values came out loud and clear in the public engagement meetings hosted by the City this year and we are pleased to see that these values have positively influenced the proposed plan. The City’s process of public engagement, research, and creative design iteration is particularly commendable and we hope that it will serve as a model for improving future DOT public engagement processes.
The new plan features improved connections between neighborhoods, particularly at Tobey Street and around Olneyville Square, expanded access for people walking and biking in the City, creates the much needed connection between 10N and 6W, opens up new land for development and green space. With fewer overall bridges we also expect that the project will be less expensive to maintain in the long-run.
We thank Governor Raimondo for giving the City, RIDOT, and the neighborhoods time to improve the design of this important legacy infrastructure. We thank Mayor Elorza for sticking to his guns and demanding infrastructure that takes Providence forward. We thank Director Alviti and Director Nickerson again for the months of hard work and creative problem solving that went into this consensus plan.
We look forward to working with the City and the State in a collaborative, open, and transparent public engagement process this winter to further refine it and we will remain vigilant to ensure that the principles that have animated our movement continue to be reflected in the final plan through completion of construction.