‘Rapid bus’ lines part of new development districts
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
(Corrected, April 21, 9:40 a.m.)
Providence is encouraging transit-oriented development in two neighborhoods most residents may not associate with transportation or potential growth.
The Trinity Square neighborhood in Upper South Providence and the northern section of North Main Street at the Pawtucket line are singled out for the city’s first two transit-oriented development districts in its ongoing zoning rewrite.
Neither are in particularly high-demand areas of the city, nor are they along the route of the proposed Providence streetcar line intended to foster new development.
Instead they are along the R-Line, the “rapid bus” project the R.I. Public Transit Authority is fashioning this spring from the existing routes 11 and 99 bus lines between Cranston and downtown Pawtucket.
Featuring specially painted buses, signs and shelters, the R-Line will reduce trip times along Broad Street and North Main Street utilizing smart stoplights that detect their approach and stay green.
Although much more modest in appearance than the streetcar, the R-Line is expected to serve 10,500 passengers per day, more than three times as many as the streetcar in its first year.
The new transit-oriented development zoning overlay districts the city proposes for Trinity Square and North Main Street would allow new building heights up to 70 feet instead of 45 feet in the base Commercial-2 zones where both are located.
Developers would also be freed from parking minimums in the overlay districts for new residential units and the first 5,000 square feet of commercial construction would also be exempt from providing off-street parking.
By easing these zoning restrictions, which make new projects more costly, city officials hope the areas will see growth.