Great Streets Initiative
The Great Streets Initiative is based on one guiding principal: that every street in Providence should be safe, clean, healthy, inclusive, and vibrant. Our streets are our largest public asset, covering over 13% of Providence’s total land area (over 1,500 acres), and play a central part in shaping our neighborhoods and impact that the way we live, work, play, and move around our city. From our city’s early days as one of New England’s bustling industrial hubs to today, these streets have helped people move goods, access services, and form community. Our streets are the threads that knit the fabric of our city together, and they can be so much more for all of us. During Spring 2019, with the help of 12 neighborhood meetings and online community input, the City is putting together a citywide plan to make every street in Providence a Great Street. Learn more on the project webpage.
Part of the Great Streets Initiative is to develop the plan for Providence’s Urban Trail Network. This is an ambitious plan to connect every Providence neighborhood to a safe, comfortable, high-quality shared-use path system, uniting many individual projects, including:
- City Walk, which will strengthen connections between nine Providence neighborhoods, parks, and civic institutions; improve safety for people traveling by all modes; and celebrate the diversity and culture of Providence neighborhoods through public art, wayfinding signage, and vibrant public places. The City has secured over $2 million to design and construct initial phases of City Walk along Clifford Street in Downtown and Pine, Friendship, and Broad streets in South Providence in 2019. Click here to learn more about City Walk.
- The Woonasquatucket Greenway Extension Project, a key focus of the Woonasquatucket Vision Plan and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and a key part of the Urban Trail Network. This project received nearly $6 million in funding as part of the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program. This one-mile off-road, shared use path will provide a safe connection for those walking and biking between downtown Providence and Eagle Square. With an expected completion date of 2021, this project will improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, provide additional transportation options for residents and visitors, enhance the urban/natural river interface, increase public recreational use of the riverfront, strengthen stormwater management, encourage economic development, and create stronger connections between Downtown and the Smith Hill, Valley, and Olneyville neighborhoods. Learn more about this and other Woonasquatucket projects here.
Projects in the Woonasquatucket River Corridor
The City of Providence, in partnership with the community, has prepared a vision plan for the area along the Woonasquatucket River from Paragon Mills to Providence Place Mall– including portions of the City’s Olneyville, Valley, and Smith Hill neighborhoods. The Vision Plan will be used to guide and prioritize the many investments planned and underway in the Project Area, determine other needed investments, and advocate and secure resources for implementation. Click here to learn more about the Woonasquatucket Vision Plan.
Woonasquatucket Brownfields Assessment Program
The City of Providence (the City) has been awarded a Brownfields Assessment Grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess and conduct for assessment and planning work related to the cleanup of brownfield sites throughout the Woonasquatucket River Corridor. The grant provides funding for Hazardous Materials- and Petroleum-related Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, Quality Assurance Project Plans, and Remedial Action Work Plans for sites within the Corridor. The intent of this work is to encourage cleanup of brownfield sites and make costs associated with redevelopment of Brownfield sites more predictable. Brownfields are “properties, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment” (US EPA).
The Target Area for this community-wide assessment is the Woonasquatucket River Corridor, 560 acres of urban land west of Downtown, including portions of the City’s Valley, Smith Hill and Olneyville neighborhoods. Central to the Corridor is the 19-mile Woonasquatucket River, which flows through six cities and towns in Rhode Island including Glocester, North Smithfield, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence, and Providence, where it flows into the Providence River and out to Narragansett Bay.
Smith Street Revitalization Plan
The Planning Department will oversee a team to develop a corridor plan for the area surrounding Smith Street within the Smith Hill neighborhood between I-95 and Tyndall Avenue. Through the Plan, the City and its consultants will work with City staff, elected officials, and community members to assess existing conditions and create a series of goals and specific strategies related to redevelopment of vacant and underutilized lots, market conditions and needs, streetscape and mobility improvements, and cultural and arts planning to reinforce and honor the identity of the neighborhood.
Kennedy Plaza Improvements
In August 2017, Mayor Elorza announced new improvements coming to Kennedy Plaza. These improvements are the result of community stakeholder input and the needs of the Downtown Transit Connector project. This new vision will transform Greater Kennedy Plaza into an active, vibrant, safe and attractive city center; connect Burnside Park, the skating rink, and Biltmore Park; improve pedestrian safety; create space for programming and revenue generating activities; provide more intuitive boarding areas for RIPTA passengers; and better balance the impacts of bus activity on surrounding properties and businesses– all while maintaining a transit-rich environment in the Plaza. The project received $2.7 million of funding from the State Transportation Improvement Program. Highlights include:
- Consolidation of most bus boarding and alighting activities to Washington Street between Dorrance and Exchange streets;
- Conversion of Washington Street between Dorrance and Exchange streets to two-way for buses only;
- Continuous bus-only lanes in both directions between Kennedy Plaza and the East Side Bus Tunnel near the intersection of Waterman and North Main streets;
- A new, raised and illuminated centralized mid-block crossing across Fulton and Washington streets in front of 111 Westminster Street;
- Improved vehicle circulation through conversion of Fulton Street between Dorrance and Exchange streets to two-way for all vehicles and a redesigned intersection of Fulton and Memorial Boulevard; and
- Closure of East Approach to all vehicle and bus traffic in order to provide a single connected park space between Burnside Park and Biltmore Park.
The City contracted Beta Group in spring 2018 for design and engineering services. This project is being completed in close coordination with the Downtown Transit Connector Project.
The Downtown Transit Connector will provide high-frequency transit service (every 5 minutes in each direction) between the Providence Amtrak/MBTA Station and the Hospital District in Upper South Providence. There will be six paired stops along the corridor, each designed with a unique and highly-visible identity. The stops will include shelters, real-time bus arrival signage, and other passenger amenities. Opportunities to enhance RIPTA service using signal priority for buses or dedicated bus lanes will be included, as well as efforts to create attractive public spaces around each stop. The $17 million project is funded by RIPTA and a USDOT Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the City of Providence in 2014. Part of the funding will be used by RIPTA to purchase vehicles to operate the service. Click here to learn more about the Downtown Transit Connector.
Launched in September 2018, Providence’s bike share system is one of the first all-electric systems in New England. Operated by JUMP Bikes, the system is semi-dockless: there are hubs where you know you can find a bike, but if there’s no hub where you’re going, you can lock your bike to any bike rack or street sign within the system area. The 400 bikes are available to rent for a small fee, and a low-income membership option, cash payment locations, and equitable distribution of infrastructure help ensure the system serves as many Providence residents as possible. The system is partly funded by the same federal grant funding the Downtown Transit Connector. Click here to learn more about bike share.
E-Scooter Share Pilot Program
Beginning October 2018, Providence’s E-Scooter Share Pilot Program has enhanced transportation options by providing an easy, low-cost solution that connects riders to the first and last miles of their commute. Click here to learn more about our E-Scooter Share Pilot Program.
The Department develops policy briefings on many important topics including housing affordability, displacement and inclusive planning, and transportation. Using lessons learned from other cities around the country and around the world, the Department has developed a series of policy briefs on hot-topic issues in the planning and development field. Each brief focuses on a single topic and discusses the City’s stated goals adopted in the Comprehensive Plan and other planning and program documents, measures the progress the City has made in meeting each goal through current projects and policies, notes the challenges and opportunities associated with each goal, and provides recommendations for how the City can continue working to reach each goal. This series helps other City departments and the general public understand hot topic issues, how these issues affect Providence residents, and how we can all work together to achieve a safe, resilient, healthy and dynamic city for all.
In close collaboration with residents and community partners in South Providence, the City of Providence Department of Planning and Development is creating a community-led vision for the future of Broad Street and the Saint Joseph’s property. To gather community feedback for the vision, the City is attending community events, conducting door-to-door canvassing, and hosting a series of “community conversations.” The input received through these activities will guide the vision for Broad Street and help solve specific challenges and opportunities identified by community members.
Dike Street Special Area Plan
In 2016, the City of Providence launched a Special Area Plan to improve the area surrounding Dike Street, just south of Olneyville Square. Building upon previous planning efforts for this area, the Special Area Plan will be shaped by input from local residents, businesses, and property owners. Together, we will develop a vision and identify resources and actions needed to bring that vision to reality.
Thayer Street Planning Study
The Thayer Street Planning Study was commissioned by the City of Providence, Department of Planning & Development, at the request of the Providence City Council, and supported by funding from Brown University. The request for the study was driven, in part, by the community’s reaction to a private development proposal for a new multifamily housing development at 257 Thayer Street, which received final approval from both the City Plan Commission and the Providence City Council in November 2012. The study area comprises 29 acres and over 90 businesses that are bounded to the north by Lloyd Avenue, to the east by Hope Street, to the south by Waterman Street, and to the west by the rear lot line of the parcels that front the western side of Thayer Street. Planning Department staff worked in partnership with a consultant team and a representative stakeholder committee to direct the focus of the study, and the development of implementation strategies that address regulatory concerns, identify public realm improvements and guide long-term development.