PROVIDENCE – The next step in the redevelopment of the former Interstate 195 footprint in the capital city took place Monday, marked by an official groundbreaking at the western end of the property attended by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee as well as the city’s congressional delegation.
Under a $13 million contract with Cardi Corp., the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission is re-building the street grid and infrastructure of the land that was once covered by the highway west of the Providence River, including underground utilities. It is expected to be completed by 2014.
“The groundbreaking represents a nearly $50 million investment by the federal government, state, city government and the utility providers to truly create a dynamic Knowledge District reconnected by new city streets, sidewalks, enhanced infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and public parks,” said commission Chairman Colin P. Kane. “All great places are built on strong foundations, and today kicks off the beginning of this foundation.”
The project was begun in 2010 when the R.I. Department of Transportation began demolition of the old highway, eventually removing nearly a mile of roadbed as well as the deck of a bridge over the Providence River (the piers for the bridge are to be used to build a pedestrian bridge connecting the parcels of land under the commission’s purview on the east and west sides of the river). A total of about 35 acres of land has been opened by the removal of the old highway, with about 20 acres set aside for new businesses and the rest expected to be filled by roads, parks and public space.
Similar work on the east side of the Providence River is expected to start in the summer and go into 2015, with a focus on building new streets and infrastructure, as well as repair South Main, South Water and Wickenden streets.