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In a public-minded way to celebrate a company's 27th anniversary, a team of volunteers from Equity National Title in East Providence arrived in force at the Providence Animal Rescue League on October 17.
Thursday, October 13, Providence River. While no ribbons were cut, and no silver shovels wielded by officials moved any earth, work officially began this morning on the Pedestrian Bridge. Actually, about 100 feet of guard rail along a defunct I-195 approach road was being un-ceremoniously removed by a work crew which turned off its power saw during the press conference. As good as a ribbon cutting any day.
Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce set the tone for the event, emphasizing the importance of the bridge as one of the catalyzing factors in the area's economic revitalization. He saluted the pro-bridge campaigners for their efforts in bringing the bridge to reality. He also noted, that as a resident of the Jewelry District, he is pleased to see the amount of new residential building and conversions underway here. To the surprise of some in the audience, he also announced that the bridge is a key factor in the future of the "Innovation and Design District", a term some locals had not heard before.
In his remarks, Rhode Island department of Transportation Executive Director Peter Alviti echoed the economic importance of the bridge. He went on to say that the bridge design is not merely to get people on bikes and foot across the river, but that in the public features it will offer the bridge will be an attraction in its own right. He said that bridge construction is slated to finish up in two years, at which point work would begin on the parks at the bridge ends.
Following up, 195 District Commission Executive Director Peter McNally pointed out all the projects underway and planned for the area. Besides the massive South Street Landing project and parking garage that dominated the background, he noted that very active progress is being made behind the scenes to bring the multi-phase, million-square foot CV-Wexford project to fruition, progress being made across the river on a mixed-use office and residential structure among other projects.
A certain amount of jubilation was evident among onlookers at the event. JDA and Building Bridges members, Sharon Steele and Olin Thompson, were singled out by one of the speakers for their relentless drive to get the bridge back on track. Furthermore, they appeared pleased that their "air-bridge" (see earlier post) was transforming from balloons into concrete, steel girders and wood decking. Tim Empkie, a leading opponent of the ballpark notion, told an observer that this moment signifies another roadblock to any chance the ballpark will ever resurface. JDA President Arthur Salisbury figures that this signals the point of no return – now virtually nothing can stop the bridge for which the Association has been fighting for nearly a decade.
Spurred on, we are sure, by the great balloon bridge construction event (pics here), things seem to be percolating for Our Park and Pedestrian Bridge.
First, a bit of good news for walkers in the Park. The other day, the overgrown mounds of dirt, debris and hardened concrete slurry, and the heap of discarded curbing, and miscellaneous bits and pieces of construction materials were gathered up and carted away. Suddenly it's possible to stroll everywhere along the river and around the park without tripping on re-bar, wire mesh, chunks of concrete and 30-foot lengths of water main. Not incidentally, over on the east side, the construction staging area long in place along South Water St. has been removed, too.
But better hurry to enjoy all this tidying up. The next bit of good news kind of will take all that fun back out of things.
The frst signs of Pedestrian Bridge construction have appeared. Though it looks like grafitti, red spray paint on the ground outlines the fence that will seal off the bridge construction sites at each end of the bridge. Not sure when the fence will go up, but it looks as if RIDoT is getting serious about this.
Photos: Walkies, GMBH
For months we've been wondering who was reconstructing 138 Point Street. Now it appears that RISD has arrived in the District. As time went on, the glass front doors revealed work going on in several large rooms. Soon, at night, display lights illuminated bare white walls. No hint of who was going into the spaces.
Finally, last week, a RISD safety alarm box appeared on the east corner of the building. And, to reinforce the impression that RISD is here, the school's familiar logotype marked the entrance doors.
But what creativity is about to be expressed on Point St.? Since there are no easels or manikins visible, we rule out the illustration, painting and fashion departments. No machinery, so it's not furniture building or glass making. Nothing to indicate Architecture or Industrial Design. Best guess, judging by the few items visible in the picture above at right: something to do with sculpture.
RISD has released no information we could find. But the JDA will provide details if we hear anything. And, we hope, a new institution will become an active JDA member.
All photos: El Norberto Snaps