Transportation plan needed for I-195 land

A MOCK UP of potential zoning opportunities in the former I-195 land.
Posted 7/31/12

PROVIDENCE – The former Interstate-195 lands need a transportation plan as only seven of the 23 parcels slated for redevelopment there can accommodate a building with sufficient on-site parking, a consultant told the I-195 District Commission Monday.

John Chambers, a civil engineer with Fuss & O’Neil Inc., said because so many parcels are “odd-shaped lots” that do not have space for a building and garage, coming up with a transportation strategy for the district would be needed to maximize development value.

“You need an overall transportation study,” Chamber said. “The seven that can support structured parking would sell while the others would not because no one would be able to park. The district is 2,000 to 4,000 parking spaces short.”

For sites that lack enough space for a parking garage, Chambers cited remote off-site parking and mass transit strategies as alternatives that will need to be considered.

Fuss & O’Neil is doing environmental and engineering site work for the I-195 Commission and on Monday presented a briefing on its progress.

The Commission is expected to vote on extending the scope of work for Fuss & O’Neil at its next meeting Aug. 20.

Chambers said each of the former highway parcels where the soil has been tested, including on the east side of the Providence River, have shown some level of environmental contamination.

The stormwater control planning, environmental studies and pre-permitting Fuss & O’Neil has recommended the Commission have done would likely save a private developer two years of permitting.

Also on Monday, the Commission expressed concern over whether a 7-foot incline the west-side park leading to the elevated pedestrian bridge would block views of the river.

Providence Director of Long-range Planning Bonnie Nickerson said she believed the water would be visible, but agreed to take another look at it.

The design of the parks has been altered since the Commission reduced the size of the west-side park to allow up to 400,000 square feet of additional building space. The finished design is expected to be finished in a month, Nickerson said.

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