What’s Really In Your Best Interest? James Kennedy Moving Together 6/10 Boulevard


This week on “What’s Really In Your Best Interest?” I sit down with James Kennedy of Transport Providence and a member of Moving Together Providence to discuss the 6/10 Boulevard concept for Rhode Island. Kennedy weighs in on the numerous benefits of the boulevard concept including reconnecting the traditional city grid and savings for taxpayers. I raised concerns about the need for dedicated bus lanes. But, we both agree that there is a better option than the Green Gateway being proposed by the RI DOT. Has RhodeWorks become a bait-and-switch for the Ocean State?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Isn’t the whole idea of limited access highways to avoid intersections, and the resultant delay. I once knew an older fellow, now deceased, who told me that in the 30’s there were 247 stop lights between Providence and New York. Am I misunderstanding, is the “boulevard” a replacement for numerous exits, benefiting the people who are just passing through Providence

    • devilsadvocateri

      the boulevard is a surface level replacement (having nothing to do with the DOT Boulevard hybrid which is a highway and not a boulevard, they are just trying to coopt progressives. and they are so confusing the issue that folks think progressives who mention busses or boulevards are supporting the DOT plan. that is not so. they want a much lower cost plan with bus lanes on the surface, not on hundreds of millions of dollars of bridges.
      so the current set up and DOTs proposed billion dollar big dig are designed to benefit people just passing through. The true boulevard approach is meant to drasticaly lower costs and to take the berlin wall of route 6 from behind Olneyville and bring the road to the surface and make the buses, businesses and communities more interated and accessible with a modest number of controlled interesections and with a traffic pattern that flows around Olneyville so that through traffic does not have to go through the 7 corners of Olneyville.

  • ShannonEntropy

    The main question I haven’t seen addressed by the *Turn 6-10 into a Park* Crowd is …

    Where is all the diverted east-west traffic gonna end up ??

    Turning LaProv from one of the worst cities to start a business in to an “… And We also make you commute an hour each way to get here” does not sound like a recipe for success

  • devilsadvocateri

    This is an area of highway planning where i tend to fall in with the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. Of course limited access highways took out intersections. How many people on the east side would favor making blackstone boulevard into a highway so they can get to pawtucket quicker. indeed the same folks who brought us the 6/10 connector were going to build a highway adjacent to Gano street wiping out the providence waterfront from 195 to waterman street.
    The question is whether limited access highways are defensible in those locations at those costs (plus the typical two to three times overrun). The extent highway structure was predicated on everyone living in the suburbs and working in providence which is no longer the case. now it is not unlike to have folks living in providence who commute to johnston or cranston. so peaks do not have the same characteristics they did when these roads were designed 50 years ago.
    Until the 90s, this road was NOT connected to 95 at its north end and we all got on fine with more people working in providence and the west end. they did utilize portions of the connector but any sensible person, before dropping a billion dollars on a little connector would inquire whether there are other ways that traffic could disperse around onleyville besides a highway. and indeed there are. Atwood and Killingly leading into Cranston. and Killingly and the new boulevard leading into providence from johnston. and there is an additional possibility to divert surface traffic north of olneyville to atwells. traffic coming into the city has to ultimately be dispersed anyway. by doing it at several locations and approaches rather than all at the northern terminus of the 6/10 you are taking away a half mile or longer traffic jam and easing horrible congestion created by that interchange on 95 north.
    and the proposal to rebuild that exchange is not even included in the billion dollars. so there is a possiblity to actually improve commuting conditions in both providence and nearby communities while saving billions. i’m in. that may sound as conclusory as DOT. I want to see my assumptions tested. But we all know DOT is the honest arbiter here. So we need to raise the profile of this debate and get oversight of the choice of alternatives.

  • devilsadvocateri

    James Kennedy has a better East Side analogy and a very well written and concise piece for WPRO :


    I disagree with James about the merits of rural highways and some expansion of that network, but I agree with him that you don’t just throw highways in the city everywhere you find a really busy street.

    Angell St. is full of commuters to downtown every morning, just like Olneyville. And Waterman is full of the same folks going home. The congestion is especially pronouced in the several blocks around Thayer St. and Brown University. Making Angell St. into a highway would be similar to DOTs solution for Olneyville. But they know better than to propose that on the East Side where folks have the capacity to demonstrate that it would be a small regional connection duplicating 195 a half mile to the north and hopelessly confound surface transportation – even moreso than the existing congestion at commuting time. So there is no excuse for the spending millions so that folks from the east bay can race through the East side. But if you built it it would have a lot of cars on it leading DOT to the conclusion we can’t do without it.

    That doesn’t put me in the camp of folks who think we should rip 95 out of Providence. Just because 95 had similarly bad effects on South Providence and Pawtucket is not a case for the end of highways, even urban ones. We should contemplate not the number of cars but the extent of alternatives and destinations and looking at the economic services and semiotics various highways provide. 95 gives a principal sense of connection to New York, Boston and the Cape. It cartographically places Providence and RI in an economic grid that preserves its relevants even as it isolates Hartford. An unintended consequence of the early war on highways that nixed Route 84s original route to Providence.

    In hindsight, it might have been better to build 295 and 138 as the main
    highways and provide a nexus of connections into the urban center,
    which were design perhaps as limited access or modest access but
    intended to disperse traffic to multiple routes to their final
    destinations, but we would have had to anticipate the diaspora of employment from urban centers. And Connecticut didn’t give up on highway connections but completed 84 with a rural path to the Mass Pike and 395 providing similar service to eastern Connecticut. Sometimes stopping or removing and urban highway can lead to a different highway.

    this will eventually pay dividends for connecticut i think. of course they undercut what they could gain from this infrastructure with uncompetitive tax a nd regulatory strucuture. stop me if you’ve heard this story before. but unlike the smart growth types who decry access to rural areas, i think its great. it coordinates with improving urban environments for those who live there of choice or necessity.