Governor Gina M. Raimondo joined today with Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti to announce a new road design for the 6/10 Interchange that keeps motorists safe, preserves project budget and timeline, improves regional traffic flow, helps to reconnect surrounding neighborhoods, creates miles of new bike paths, and makes acres of new land available for development.
"As Governor, I come to work every day focused on providing economic opportunity for all Rhode Islanders, and forward-thinking, 21st century transit infrastructure is core to our economic comeback," Governor Raimondo said. "I commend my team at RIDOT, Mayor Elorza and the many stakeholders whose input has helped to produce a 6/10 Interchange design to serve the needs of all Rhode Islanders."
In September, Governor Raimondo ordered a fast-tracked reconstruction of the 6/10 interchange to address decades of deferred maintenance on Rhode Island's most traveled expressway. RIDOT then collaborated with the City of Providence to produce an improved road design that keeps motorists safe and preserves the project's budget while providing many design elements requested by neighborhood groups and public transit advocates.
"This process relied on close coordination and intensive collaboration between the City, State and community stakeholders," said Mayor Elorza. "This design meets many of the goals laid out during several community meetings and the final product was certainly enhanced because of it. Not only does it improve mobility throughout the entire stretch, but also better connects neighborhoods, builds a dedicated bike lane, opens up developable land, and incorporates better urban design."
The new, $400 million improvement plan is expected to create approximately 1,700 direct job years, according to a formula used by the Council of Economic Advisors.
Highlights of the 6/10 Interchange plan:
Direct Connection from Route 10 North onto Route 6 West: Road design includes the "missing move" connecting Route 10 North to Route 6 West – improving regional traffic flow and reducing traffic congestion in Olneyville.
New pedestrian/bicycle routes: 1.4 miles of new bike paths will be constructed in two places over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to connect pedestrians and bike riders traveling between Olneyville and the West End. Bike lanes will be added on an expanded Westminster Street overpass and on a newly rebuilt Tobey Street overpass. Broadway and Westminster Street will be redesigned using "complete streets" standards to make neighborhood roadways walkable, transit and bicycle-friendly.
Connects neighborhoods: To diminish the visual obstruction between Olneyville and the West End neighborhoods of Providence, approximately half the length of the Huntington Viaduct will be demolished. RIDOT will replace the Huntington Viaduct with surface roads that maintain adequate traffic conditions.
More greenspace and developable land: The Plainfield Street on-ramp will be eliminated to better connect city streets and open up more than four acres of additional real estate for development.
Eliminates Harris Avenue Crossing: New plan eliminates the challenging cross-over merge at the Harris Avenue on-ramp, letting Harris Avenue traffic access Route 10 South without merging through Route 6 West traffic. Access from Harris Avenue to Route 6 West will also be maintained.
Gateway aesthetics: Additional measures will be taken for landscaping, visual improvements and reduction of noise and neighborhood buffering. The new plan also includes a lighting arrangement similar to that used on the Sakonnet River Bridge. These improved aesthetics will create a signature entranceway to Providence from Route 6 and 10.
"Finally, after 30 years, we are going to rebuild the 6/10 interchange within the budget the legislature gave us. We will create a new infrastructure to improve the flow of traffic, give drivers the missing move to 6 west, and modify the geometry of the roads to make driving easier and eliminate the challenges people now face," RIDOT Director Alviti said. "We are pleased to have worked in collaboration with the City and look forward to breaking ground."
RIDOT anticipates the project will cost $400 million including design, construction, oversight, and contingencies. RhodeWorks legislation provided $400 million to address the 6/10 interchange. RIDOT has agreed to seek additional federal discretionary funding for additional improvements in the 6/10 corridor requested by the City of Providence, including the reconfiguration of the Dean Street on ramp.
With this new plan, RIDOT will proceed to advertise a design build contract. RIDOT anticipates that the contract will be advertised by the end of January, with construction to begin in the fall of 2017.