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Rhode Island Road Diet: Former Highway Site of Building Boom

Urban planners, attempting to create more pedestrian-friendly, walkable sections of their cities, often struggle with the divisive effects of highways, which divide neighborhoods and limit development options. In Providence, Rhode Island, city officials were facing the same problems with Interstate 195, until deciding on a novel solution; just get rid of the highway. After demolishing the road last year, which bisected parts of the city on both sides of the Providence River, and realigning streets and utilities, the city created the new I-195 Redevelopment District, which, according to a recent New York Times article, is now attracting numerous development proposals and potentially reshaping the city.

Called LINK Land, since it's joining parts of the city split by the roadway, the newly opened 19 acres will soon play host to an academic and engineering center for Johnson & Wales University, which broke ground a few months ago, student housing and a $20 million mixed-use development. A riverfront park and pedestrian bridge are being developed, and a new art installation series was inaugurated last fall. A life sciences center and a riverfront stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox are also in various stages of proposals or development. The goal, according to local politicians and the development commission, is to foster creative industries and new jobs. It certainly seems to be doing better than another way to get stuck in traffic.

Providence, R.I., Is Building on a Highway's Footprint [The New York Times]
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