I-195 panel looking to bury power lines, considers grocery proposal

The state panel responsible for developing the former Interstate-195 lands is close to throwing its support behind a decade-long effort to bury regional power lines between Providence … More

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I-195 panel looking to bury power lines, considers grocery proposal

THE INTERSTATE 195 REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT COMMISSION is considering supporting a citizen-backed plan to bury the power lines leading from Providence's Manchester Street Power Station (in background) to East Providence, thus removing them from India Point Park.
Posted 9/10/13

PROVIDENCE - The state panel responsible for developing the former Interstate 195 land is close to throwing its support behind a decade-long effort to bury regional power lines between Providence and East Providence.

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Monday appeared ready to approve a resolution supporting the Friends of India Point Park’s campaign to bury the overhead transmission cables, but delayed the vote because final action had not been on the agenda. The vote has been rescheduled for next month.

The Friends of India Point Park have helped raise $17.2 million in state, federal, ratepayer and utility contributions for the burial project since 2002, but have been unable to push the project forward due to persistent funding shortfalls and apparent reluctance from the cities and utility National Grid. National Grid now estimates the project, estimated to cost $14.5 million in 2006, would cost $22.4 million.

The high voltage lines stretch from land adjacent to the Manchester Street Power Station, across the Providence River to Fox Point and India Point Park, skirting the I-195 land, before crossing the Seekonk River to East Providence.

Friends of India Point Park, supported by voters and state government leaders, have argued to bury the wires to remove an aesthetic blight from the park, but also to raise the value of developable land in their path, including the I-195 land.

The power line burial project would be done by National Grid in concert with the city and state utilities regulators. The I-195 Commission has no direct control over the project, but Friends of India Point Park hope the commission will use its influence and the importance of the larger development project to spur action.

In other I-195 news, the Providence Redevelopment Agency has approached the commission about building a food market on a small parcel on Richmond Street near Brown University’s new Ship Street park, Commission Executive Director Jan Brodie said.

Brodie said the parcel is not large enough for much else to fit there. The tentative idea was to have the market run by students from Johnson & Wales University.

And as the I-195 Commission begins marketing the land it controls, the group is considering a new, catchier name than the lengthy Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission.

On Monday Brodie floated two potential suggestions, “Riverlink” and “Relink.”

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