City Council Opposes RIDOT’s Kennedy Plaza Plan
September 7, 2020
PROVIDENCE — At its most recent meeting, the City Council offered its opposition to the controversial multi-hub bus proposal put forth by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT).
The concept has been met with considerable opposition for proposing to transform the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s central bus terminal at Kennedy Plaza into three smaller stations.
City Council members pointed to flaws with the proposed station on Dyer Street in the Jewelry District. The remote location, they said, will extend commutes as a greater number of riders will require transfers to reach their destinations.
“The plan as it stands will disproportionately inconvenience people in all of our wards, especially low-income communities, seniors, as well as persons with disabilities,” Ward 1 City Council member John Goncalves said at the Sept. 3 online meeting.
The public, council members noted, has had little say in the proposal, while the City Council hasn’t been asked to vote on the proposed project.
“The problem is that the process was flawed,” Ward 2 City Council member Helen Anthony said. “The plan was put out in its final form. There are many stakeholders who have not been involved with the process.”
Ward 3 council member Nirva LaFortune said many political leaders have spoken recently about improving equity and helping marginalized communities. “Yet this plan fails to do that,” she said. “So it’s really important to put equity at the forefront.”
RIDOT’s Multi-Hub Bus System is opposed by Rhode Island Transit Riders, the Providence Streets Coalition, Grow Smart Rhode Island, the Jewelry District Association, the South Providence Neighborhood Association, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, and the Pawtucket-based George Wiley Center.
The groups recently held protests and press events at Kennedy Plaza and at the proposed Dyer Street bus station.
LaFortune encouraged the City Council to support the resolution and urged the public to send feedback to RIDOT and Gov. Gina Raimondo.
The City Council resolution opposing the state’s proposal is expected to be reviewed by the Urban Redevelopment, Renewal & Planning Committee at its Sept. 9 meeting. If approved in committee, the resolution would return to the City Council for a final vote at its Sept. 17 meeting.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to ban waste incinerators in the city. The rule change came about after outcry against a proposed waste-processing and transfer station at a brownfield site at the corner of Thurbers and Allens avenues.
The project was pulled by the developer in March after it was discovered that private ownership of a waste facility is prohibited in the city.
The modified ordinance outlaws waste-incineration facilities, specifically any that “disposes of, treats, processes, or recycles solid waste or medical waste through combustion, gasification, or pyrolysis, or exposes solid waste or medical waste to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The rule, sponsored by council member Pedro Espinal, clarified that a waste facility, such as a solid-waste transfer station or a sewage-treatment plant, must be operated by the city or a state agency.