Last night, August 30, over 100 residents, community leaders, business owners, and transportation and planning experts gathered for a public forum at Asa Messer Elementary School on the West Side to discuss the future of the Rt. 6-10 Connector.
Workshop participants gave voice to the many values other than just moving cars that are important to Rhode Islanders: fiscal sustainability; improved safety for people driving, walking, biking, or taking the bus; creating new opportunities for economic development and low-income communities that live near the highway; open space and beauty and innovation and climate change.
Many participants suggested replacing the highway with a connected network of boulevards and streets more like Memorial Boulevard in Providence or Blackstone Boulevard, or the Parkways in Boston’s Emerald Necklace; which would greatly reduce long-term maintenance costs and improve connections between neighborhoods.
RI Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the City of Providence have been working for the last year to design a replacement for the aging interchange and its structurally deficient bridges. Earlier this summer, the State learned it would not receive a $175 million grant to support the reconstruction.
Fix the 6-10, a recently formed coalition of community groups, believes that there is much work to be done before the best design can be determined.
First, there is a lack of comprehensive data and analysis of current traffic utilization, origins and destinations, and alternatives. We call on the state to work with effected communities to design a comprehensive data collection and analysis process that is open and transparent.
Second, any future design must measure not just traffic flow but also fiscal, environmental, social, and economic impacts. How we will pay for the infrastructure now and in the future? How do we move people efficiently in the City and the region? How do we repair damaged neighborhoods and poor health? How do we reduce vehicle carbon emissions? How do we attract investment and grow jobs in Rhode Island? We’ll design for what we measure.
The hard work begins now.