Gina Raimondo has done the impossible: she's united left and right, rural and urban, throughout all of the State of Rhode Island and its Providence Plantations.
Rhode Island is among only three states in the nation that are losing population: Michigan and Maine are the other two. Providence is among the top cities for urban decay due to overinvestment in highways, while as the second-densest and smallest state in the union, it has a dwindling transit ridership. Yet Gov. Raimondo has overseen the expansion of the road system in order to move jobs around within our state's famously tiny borders.
Now the governor has shut down the public process around the 6/10 Connector, crying concerns over safety. This is clearly a lie.
It's not a lie in the sense that the bridges on 6/10 are safe. Everyone agrees that they are unsafe. It's a lie because RIDOT has used fear about the safety of bridges throughout the entire process as a way of derailing discussion. The mere fact that bridges are in poor shape does not necessitate their being replaced as-is, especially when even the Tea Party-- yes, that Tea Party-- thinks that the boulevard is a better idea than rebuilding 6/10 (suburban liberals agree too, and so do libertarians, a surprisingly large contingent in the Ocean State).
RIDOT officials were not concerned about moving the process along quickly when they delayed Providence from having public forums on the subject, then stonewalled Providence Planning and almost didn't show up. The meetings did happen, many months after they were originally planned, and they looked like this:
— Sustain_PVD (@Sustain_PVD) March 23, 2016
The only people that don't agree with the boulevard are RIDOT officials, and Gov. Raimondo.
Director Peter Alviti of RIDOT has stated that the boulevard would created horrible traffic, yet RIDOT knows that this is not the case.
Now seems as good a time as any to remind the public that #RIDOTknows. @tednesi @iandon @PatrickAnderso_ @bobplain pic.twitter.com/38ediuAe4K— Transport Providence (@TransportPVD) September 8, 2016
Despite awareness that boulevards like the Champs-Élysées carry as much traffic as 6/10, and despite decades of evidence that removing highways has no impact on traffic congestion (other than occasionally to improve it), RIDOT has presented intentionally misleading information to the public. And yet no organized effort has formed among the public to continue the highway as-is.
Think about this highway boosters: Paris' famed Champs-Elysees handles same traffic volume as 6-10 Connector.https://t.co/XIMM6hdrAU— katherine gregg (@kathyprojo) August 31, 2016
It's hard not to lose faith. I'd like to ask all Rhode Islanders to keep backing Providence's mayor, Jorge Elorza, as he pushes back against this effort to short-circuit the public process.
Keep fighting, Rhody.