Project designed to support economic development, improve transit, boost safety, and transform the Plaza into a vibrant public square.
Mayor Angel Taveras was today joined by representatives of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, city, state and federal officials, and other community stakeholders to break ground on the renovation of Kennedy Plaza.
The reinvention of Kennedy Plaza is designed to improve the pedestrian and bus passenger experience, boost safety in the area and transform the Plaza into a lively destination for residents, commuters and visitors to the Capital City. The project is a top priority of Mayor Taveras' economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work, and is part of Phase III of the Downtown Circulator Project, a multi-year project aimed at making a more vibrant downtown for passengers and pedestrians.
"Transforming Kennedy Plaza into a vibrant public square is a top priority of my economic development plan," said Mayor Taveras. "Kennedy Plaza is the heart of transportation in our city and state, and its success is essential to the economic vitality of our Capital City. I am thrilled to break ground on this project and begin work to make the Plaza a safer, more navigable civic destination for pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers and motorists."
The redesign of Kennedy Plaza has been several years in the making and is the result of a collaborative planning and input process between the Providence Department of Planning + Development, RIPTA, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, the Providence Foundation, the Kennedy Plaza Working Group, and other community stakeholders. The project supports a balanced transportation system that maximizes the use of Kennedy Plaza for pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers and motorists.
"RIPTA is extremely enthusiastic and looking forward to the positive improvements to the transit passenger amenities, as well as the overall aesthetic changes to Kennedy Plaza," said RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley. "Having both a transit center and a multi-use space is going to be an enhancement for all users of Kennedy Plaza. We value our strong partnership with the City of Providence and look forward to improving transit service in downtown Providence."
Kennedy Plaza will be renovated to include more open space, new plantings and decorative lighting to create a vibrant public square and promote Kennedy Plaza as a public meeting space. The City is working in partnership with the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy to bring new programming to the space.
The redesign includes new berths for buses and covered wait stations for passengers. Some bus berths will be consolidated and several will be relocated to the perimeter of Greater Kennedy Plaza.
"We are very pleased to see this significant step in the efforts of our public-private partnership come to fruition," said Cliff Wood, Executive Director of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy.
The Kennedy Plaza redesign is part of the third and final phase of the Downtown Circulator Project that began in Summer 2013. Remaining steps of Phase III of the project include converting Dorrance Street, between Washington and Sabin Streets, and Exchange Terrace, from Dorrance Street to Exchange Street, to two-way traffic. Empire Street between Broad and Fountain Streets and a segment of Greene Street will also be changed to accommodate two-way traffic.
New bike lanes and signage downtown will better accommodate bicyclists. Sidewalks will be widened and crosswalks shortened in Kennedy Plaza and LaSalle Square to make downtown safer for pedestrians.
Previous phases of the Downtown Circulator Project have improved the flow of vehicle traffic downtown by changing Washington Street, Weybosset Street and a section of Empire Street to two-way traffic.
"This project is a major step forward in the reconstruction of Greater Kennedy Plaza into a wonderful public space that will serve transit riders and park goers well," said Dan Baudouin, Executive Director of the Providence Foundation. "It is a continuation of the major projects such as rail relocation, river relocation and I-195 relocation which has transformed downtown into a downtown for the 21st century."
The redesign of Kennedy Plaza and Phase III of the Downtown Circulator Project is expected to cost $7.2 million, including City bond funds and $700,000 in federal funds allocated by RIPTA. Kennedy Plaza renovations are scheduled for completion in late Fall 2014 and Phase III of the Downtown Circulator Project is scheduled to be finished in September 2015.
RIPTA has temporarily relocated all bus stops out of Kennedy Plaza to accommodate renovations of the Plaza. RIPTA passengers with questions regarding temporary bus stop locations during construction should visit http://www.ripta.com.