Boulevard Now Being Considered by RIDOT

The 6-10 Connector project has evolved rapidly over the past few weeks. 

As part of its first round of public meetings about the project, RI Department of Transportation gave a presentation in Olneyville Tuesday night that laid out three different options for the reconstruction of the 6-10 Connector, a portion of Route 6-10 that borders the neighborhoods of Olneyville, Valley and Silver Lake on the west and Federal Hill and West End on the east.

The first two options – rebuilding the same highway that exists today with small modifications, and "capping" or covering the existing highway to create open space on top – had been previously announced in news media, interviews and at a City-sponsored public forum held on March 23. But for the first time, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti publicly stated that a "pure boulevard" option would also be considered by the state.

The inclusion of a boulevard option in this series of public meetings was a welcome surprise to many who have been advocating for multiple design alternatives to be considered at this early project planning phase of 6-10's reconstruction. As recent as last week, WBNA, Providence Preservation Society and GrowSmartRI submitted letters to the Governor and Director Alviti, specifically asking that an alternative, such as a boulevard option, be included in the language of a federal FASTLANE grant application being submitted this week.

The WBNA's objective has been to encourage the state to remain flexible and to keep options open at this stage of planning given that there has not yet been a public vetting process established for this major infrastructure project. Because it was unclear if the criteria of the FASTLANE grant proposal would allow for possible future changes to RIDOT's proposed plans for the Connector, WBNA and others advocated for alternative options to be included in the grant application.

At Tuesday's meeting, Alviti stated that the FASTLANE grant allows flexibility regarding the evolution of proposed plans unlike other federal grants that typically require all alternatives to be included in the initial proposal and offer little room for changes in plans once proposed. Alviti's statement answers other stakeholder questions that have arisen since the City's March 23 forum as to where we actually are in the state's planning process, the beginning or the end.

While it is not yet clear what is actually being included in the FASTLANE grant application in terms of wording or proposed alternative highway options, Tuesday's Olneyville meeting serves as a public commitment by the state and RIDOT to include a nontraditional highway rebuild proposal on the planning table. In addition, Alviti stated at Tuesday's meeting that he is committed to a transparent process and that the application, along with supporting documents, would be made available online.

As one of several organizations and agencies advocating for an open transportation design process that includes authentic community involvement, WBNA is thrilled that we and others have been heard so far. In one short week, our requests to expand considered designs were included in RIDOT's publicly presented plans.

In the near future, WBNA looks forward to working with the City and state as part of a community working group that contributes to a plan that balances transportation needs with economic, social and environmental concerns, and that offers benefits such as reducing infrastructure maintenance costs, supporting multiple modes of transit and connectivity, creating opportunities for redevelopment, and improving the city and surrounding neighborhoods.

fastlane application & supporting documents

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