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Widening I-95?




I just want the non-Twitter folks to know about this. Via Barry Schillar on the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition list I found out that RIDOT is planning some wondrous surprises for us along I-95:
FYI:  As we heard, there are no bike projects in the TIGER grant applications.  Last night we heard that RIDOT is applying for a $20 million grant to widen I-95 North from about the Broadway exit to Route 146 as part of the Providence Viaduct replacement ([total] extra cost about $46 million), 
These plans are not final as far as I know, and we can certainly rally to stop them.

The cost for the two bus hubs proposed was by contrast, $1.5 Million. 

[F]or a $1.5 million planning grant for the 2 new proposed RIPTA bus hubs (at the [RR] station and Garrahy Court House) though that will also require legislative and voter approval of bonds.
The best short-term solution I've heard to deal with traffic on I-95 came from Streetsblog writer and Newport native Stephen Miller, who tweeted that the best solution would be to have a congestion fee for the urban span of I-95, in order to encourage transit use among those who can. I also have long wanted to envision taking the center lane in each direction away from I-95 for Bus Rapid Transit with five stops at Cranston, the South Side, Downtown/West Side, North Main, and Pawtucket. I think a second lane from each side would have to be taken for ramps and staircases to enter the BRT. Setting up this new infrastructure would also cost a lot, but would provide a great deal more capacity.

There's also a counterintuitive trend with highways that finds that when highways are added, the new capacity only affects traffic congestion for a few years before things go back to their stasis. One way of thinking about this is to imagine the commuter to Boston on I-95 or on the T. I used to either carpool or take the train, and even though the train cost me money while the carpool was free, and even though there was no discernible environmental difference between taking one or the other, the traffic alone made me prefer the T. If you add lanes, people immediately feel the sense that there's more free capacity for them to use, and that would lead some of the people who hate traffic like I do to drive instead of take the train, until all the capacity was eaten. Because traffic congestion is not linear, it only takes a small difference in volume of cars (maybe 10%) to add huge differences in how slow everyone is going.

If you have ideas about this, tweet them to us at @transportpvd or email us at transportprovidence@gmail.com.

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