Friday, August 13, 2021
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, members of the Providence City Council, and the City of Providence’s Planning Department today announced the upcoming tentative construction schedule for several projects included in the Providence Great Streets Initiative, which aims to make all City streets safe and sustainable. These projects include safety improvements for walking and biking, traffic calming improvements to reduce speeding, and enhanced accessibility for all travelers, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and encouraging greener modes of transit.
“All residents should feel a sense of belonging, and our public infrastructure is an integral part of that mission,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Our streets play a central part in shaping our neighborhoods so we must design infrastructure in a way that embraces multi-modal transportation while simultaneously prioritizing the safety of those who choose alternative methods of transit.”
Eighteen miles of new on-road bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements are set to begin construction in August, including protected bike lanes on Broad, South Water, Empire, Chestnut, Richmond, and Dean Streets, as well as Manton Avenue between Olneyville Square and Riverside Park. Other improvements include traffic calming, such as speed lumps, and minor striping improvements on side streets to form “neighborhood greenways” that will connect neighborhoods to the overall network via streets such as Knight and Ontario. Construction on South Water, Manton, Empire, Chestnut, and Richmond is expected to begin in mid-August and be complete by mid-October, while construction on Broad and Dean streets is expected to primarily take place during the spring and summer of 2022.
Street safety interventions are overwhelmingly popular among Providence residents. According to a recent EMC Research poll of registered voters in Providence commissioned by PeopleForBikes, 84% support the Providence Great Streets Initiative while 80% believe that developing alternatives to driving is the best way to reduce the City’s traffic issues. Additionally, the poll found that nearly 75% of people who ride bicycles in Providence are concerned about being hit by a motor vehicle and 71% would ride more in Providence if there were protective barriers, such as separated bicycle lanes, separating bicycles from cars. Finally, those polled asserted that “encouraging alternate forms of transportation that will help Providence fight climate change and become a more sustainable city” as a top reason for supporting the plan.
Mayor Elorza recently joined Providence City Council and community members to sign the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance, making safe, clean, healthy, inclusive, and vibrant streets the default in road design rather than the exception. The core purpose of the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance is to standardize road design to make Providence streets safer for all users, as laid out in the Providence Great Streets Plan.
“In Providence, it’s critical that we improve the way we approach street design to accommodate multi-modal transportation and promote the safety of all travelers,” said Councilman John Goncalves, Ward 1. “This will help us achieve these goals by acting on equitable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly transportation options while encouraging economic growth by expanding accessibility”
Safety and accessibility implementations are demonstrated in various projects set to begin construction soon. On South Water Street, improvements include curb-cuts, traffic calming and a two-way “urban trail” adjacent to the new waterfront park. Additionally, increased access to public transit and enhancements for pedestrians will connect the City’s downtown to the East Bay Bike Path, improving access to existing businesses and new developments in the ever-growing I-195 District. Furthermore, traffic calming and safety improvements along Knight Street, Federal Hill’s “neighborhood greenway,” encourage slower driving speeds and better connect the neighborhood to the overall urban trail network.
“I was thrilled to work with the City Planning Department to engage with residents as part of upcoming road safety improvements on Knight Street,” said Councilwoman Rachel Miller, Ward 13. “Although construction was delayed by COVID, the project received an enthusiastic neighborhood response. Streets and sidewalks must be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. We can get there by prioritizing inclusive street designs across our City.”
The City prioritizes public engagement with community context for all projects affecting its 15 wards, which allows the City’s Planning Department to adjust plans according to feedback. Over the past two years and as recently as June of this year, the City has sent more than 1,800 direct mailings to adjacent property owners, businesses, and residents, and has hosted and attended more than 20 in-person and virtual public meetings with hundreds of participants. The City continues to coordinate closely with residents and businesses to share updated construction timeline information as it becomes available.
For more information about Great Streets in Providence, please visit the City’s website.