Governor Raimondo seemed to quietly reverse herself on the 6/10 Connector, stating that her office was open to working with the City of Providence on any solution that was safe, did not worsen traffic, and was cost-effective. Through a staffer, Raimondo later denied that her statement constituted a reversal of policy. Rhode Islanders can continue to reach out participate in the outreach Providence Planning Dept. is doing. The department opposes rebuilding 6/10 as-is.
The (non?) reversal was more of a whimper than a bang, because it contained significant caveats. But those who see a sustainable future for the corridor should press the governor to stick to her commitments going forward.
Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition activist Alex Krogh-Grabbe asked the governor what she would do on 6/10 around 5:00.
Gov. Raimondo said that if the City of Providence completes its public forums within the 60 day time frame she has outlined, she will honor their plan, so long as it is affordable and does not create safety issues for the bridges by delaying work.
The governor also gave herself breathing room for the future in laying out a caveat around traffic management.
While RIDOT officials have described the 6/10 boulevard as a traffic impediment, it’s clear that it would not be. The famed Champs Elysées in Paris carries as many cars as 6/10, while also accommodating 500,000 pedestrians a day.
Think about this highway boosters: Paris’ famed Champs-Elysees handles same traffic volume as 6-10 Connector.https://t.co/XIMM6hdrAU
— katherine gregg (@kathyprojo) August 31, 2016
Even more impressively, the city of Seoul, South Korea removed a raised highway above the Cheongyecheon River. At 160,000 cars a day, the Cheongyecheon Freeway carried 60% more cars than the 6/10 Connector, but Seoul didn’t even replace it with a boulevard. They just created a river park.
— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) April 23, 2015
The irony might be pressing as is, if it weren’t for the fact that Seoul officials sent observers to Providence before redesigning their highway, in order to see Waterplace Park– essentially the eastern edge of Route 6.
The reality is that traffic engineers have understood since the 1970s that urban highways create their own traffic mire, and that removing them does not worsen traffic congestion. The trick is getting RIDOT to admit this known fact. It’s hard to convince a person of something when their salary depends on them not understanding it.
Mayor Elorza will continue to take public feedback in order to aid his Planning Department in pushing for a boulevard. If you have something to share, please send your thoughts to email@example.com.
Through spokesman Mike Raia, Raimondo’s office backed away from its statement to Krogh-Grabbe, saying it did not reverse its position on the need to repair overpasses on the 6/10 connector immediately, thus ending the debate on replacing it with a boulevard instead.
“She hasn’t backed away from her announcement, as RI Future is reporting,” said Raia. “This is a public safety decision. We are not considering a boulevard.”
“[The governor] announced three things:
“Move forward immediately with an in-kind replacement of the Huntington Ave bridge.
“Immediately start quarterly inspections of all the bridges.
“Reached an agreement with Mayor Elorza for his public input process to conclude quickly to allow RIDOT to issue RFPs by the end of the year.
“She said during the presser and again on Channel 10 that she is willing to consider modifications to a simple replace in kind for the remaining bridges as long as they do not cause any additional delay (these modifications might include a bike lane, BRT, a future project to connect 10N with 6W).”