Park to be dedicated in honor of the late George Redman, an advocate for bike path development across Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE - Governor Raimondo and the Department of Environmental Management are holding a special ceremony today to mark the dedication of the new linear park on the Washington Bridge in Providence. The park, which serves as a critical link between the East Bay and downtown Providence, will be named in honor of the late George Redman - an East Providence resident and environmental advocate.
"Twenty-first century transportation systems support the economy, the environment, and public health," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "We are fortunate to have more than 60 miles of bike and pedestrian path across the state. This not only promotes families getting outside and getting active but also creates valuable transportation options that support jobs and economic activity. Our state is well known for its impressive network of trails, our beautiful Bay, and other natural resources; these are powerful drivers for tourism and sources of great pride for all of us as Rhode Islanders."
The new park, which fully opened to the public in July, includes an 11-foot bikeway with a separate seven-foot walking path, and a center plaza "park" that offers scenic overlooks, rest areas, bike racks, and information on the history of the bridge and surrounding communities and waters. The park serves as an important link in the state's bike network, connecting the East Bay Bike Path to India Point Park in Providence. The East Bay Bike Path was the first multi-town bike path built in Rhode Island. It travels 14.5 miles from Providence to Bristol.
"This project is a great example of how we can work together to enhance our infrastructure, strengthen our economy, improve public health, and provide Rhode Island families with safe areas for recreation. And it is a fitting tribute to George Redman, who was a driving force behind the creation of the East Bay Bike Path and a champion for connecting our communities," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who noted that the $21.8 million project, which began in 2012, was financed entirely through federal funding, and involved the reconstruction of the original segment of the Washington Bridge that supported the old bikeway.
"The Washington Bridge project is an exciting development that will empower Rhode Islanders to exercise and enjoy their community, not to mention its positive impact on tourism for the countless visitors who come to enjoy both the natural beauty of our state and the extraordinary culture of downtown Providence," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "These improvements make for more accessible, livable communities that are inviting for residents and businesses alike. Congratulations to the Department of Transportation for overseeing a successful transformation along the bike path, and thank you to all of the partners and advocates who are working hard to preserve greenspace and beautify our state."
"I am proud to join with business leaders, community advocates, and officials from across our state to celebrate the completion of the Washington Bridge Linear Park project," said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. "This infrastructure project has improved the quality of the Washington Bridge, improved access to Downtown Providence and the entire East Bay, and enhanced the quality of life for thousands of Rhode Islanders. The success of this project reinforces the need for Congress to pass a long-term highway funding bill that puts Rhode Islanders back to work and strengthens the quality of our local infrastructure."
The park is being dedicated to George Redman given his tireless advocacy for bike path development statewide and public access to Narragansett Bay. Redman, a World War II veteran, was an early supporter of various public park and bikeway projects, including Bold Point Park in East Providence and the East Bay Bike Path. He also led shoreline cleanups and participated in beautification projects around the East Bay.
"The completion of the George Redman Linear Park provides a critical transportation connection for Providence, helping us meet the needs of people, not just cars," said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. "I'd like to congratulate our friends at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and other partners for making cycling safer and more accessible for Providence and the rest of the state."
"I am delighted that this beautiful park will be named in honor of East Providence resident and advocate, George Redman; the bike and pedestrian path are a fitting tribute to his legacy," stated East Providence Mayor Thomas Rose.
"I am thrilled to celebrate the dedication of this park to George Redman," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "It was his early advocacy, coupled with the support of so many others, that laid the groundwork for the beautiful park we have today. The Washington Bridge has long provided a vital connection between the East Bay and downtown, and now it is home to a modern bike and pedestrian path that will be a key feature in our local and national trail system for years to come."
The linear park project included reconstruction of a section of the original Washington Bridge that carried the old bikeway - as well as a section of the original highway bridge. In addition, several historic features on the bridge were rehabilitated, including its signature arches, supporting columns, fašade, granite pylons, bronze plaques, and two operator's houses that once controlled a drawbridge. As part of this project, the structurally deficient Warren Avenue Ramp Bridge, which carries off-ramp traffic from I-195 East to Veterans Memorial Parkway (Exit 4), was replaced; this work was completed in 2013, removing the bridge from the structurally deficient list.