Mayor Elorza Unveils Community Led Vision for Kennedy Plaza


PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza yesterday joined City and State elected
officials, staff from the City’s Planning and Development Department,
representatives from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the
Providence Foundation, the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC), and the
Providence Parks Department, as well as business leaders and community members to
unveil a vision for Kennedy Plaza that was created through a robust public
engagement planning process.

“Vibrant public spaces are a big part of Providence’s reputation as a
fun and captivating destination,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “I’m
thrilled that this vision will help transform Kennedy Plaza into a true civic heart
for our city by taking into account what we have heard directly from the

Over the past several months, the City held two community meetings to gather public
input on the future of Kennedy Plaza. Through these meetings and additional
community outreach efforts, the City heard from bus riders, surrounding property
owners, and residents about their ideas for the Plaza. Among the highest priorities,
community members expressed a desire to centralize bus service, improve safety and
security, increase connectivity between the multiple spaces, make it easier to walk
and bike through the area and enhance the Plaza as a vibrant and welcoming public

“We are excited for this next step in the evolution of Greater Kennedy Plaza
into a vibrant destination for Rhode Island families, workers, and visitors,”
said Cliff Wood, Executive Director for the Providence Foundation. “We look
forward to continued progress and partnership with Mayor Elorza and our colleagues
in and across the city and state as we transform this shared public space into a
world class civic center.”

City planners worked closely with RIPTA officials and community members while
exploring various concepts for the way buses could interact with the Plaza, ranging
from circulating the outskirts of the greater plaza area on Exchange Terrace and
Fulton Street, to a consolidated presence on Washington Street in the center of the

The vision unveiled builds on the most recent reconfiguration of the Plaza completed
in 2015. Due to two new projects that have emerged since then, the Downtown Transit
Connector and the Providence Intermodal Transportation Center, as well as concerns
regarding pedestrian safety, the City took the lead on developing a revised vision
for the Plaza.

Both the Downtown Transit Connector and Intermodal Center will change how RIPTA
buses move through and use the Plaza. The Intermodal Center being planned by RIDOT
will provide additional space for buses and passengers closer to the Providence
train station in Capital Center. The Downtown Transit Connector, being funded by a
$13 million United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation
Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the City, will
realign existing RIPTA bus routes to serve an enhanced transit corridor that will
run from the Hospital District to the Providence Train Station. It will include
stops at Kennedy Plaza and the I-195 redevelopment area. Construction on the
Downtown Transit Connector is expected to begin in Spring 2018. Changes will begin
to be made to Kennedy Plaza during construction of the Connector project.

This new vision, supported by various stakeholders, will transform Greater Kennedy
Plaza into an active, vibrant, safe and attractive city center; connect Burnside
Park, the skating rink, and Biltmore Park; improve pedestrian safety; create space
for programming and revenue generating activities; provide more intuitive boarding
areas for RIPTA passengers; and better balance the impacts of bus activity on
surrounding properties and businesses– all while maintaining a transit-rich
environment in the Plaza.

Highlights include:

● Between the skating rink and Burnside Park, East Approach will be
closed to buses and cars creating a single connected park space between Biltmore and
Burnside Parks.

● A new prominent crosswalk will be created in the center of the Plaza,
improving pedestrian safety and creating a welcoming front door from Fulton Street,
to the Plaza, and across Washington Street through to Burnside Park.

● To the east of the new crosswalk location, the Plaza between Fulton and
Washington Street will be transformed into a new public space with shaded seating,
landscaping, and public art.

● Fulton Street will be converted to a two-way street with parallel
parking on both sides to improve vehicular circulation surrounding the Plaza.

● Concentrating RIPTA service and bus berth locations on Washington
Street, making it two-way for buses only, rerouting car travel to Fulton Street.

● Longer-term improvements, such as future buildings around the Skating
rink, and redesigning the Plaza in front of the skating rink, are envisioned to
increase capacity for events at the rink and the visibility of the rink, while
providing additional space for cafes, offices, bathrooms, and warming areas for rink

Over the next several weeks, the City will continue to work in partnership with
RIPTA and RIDOT to determine project phasing and timing to ensure that changes to
the Plaza are made in coordination with construction of the Downtown Transit
Connector, the Exchange Street Improvement Project and the future Providence
Intermodal Center.