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Cicilline urges study of transportation needs in Providence area

If approved, a 17-member legislative study commission would look at using transportation to stimulate "smart growth" and economic development

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer - Wednesday, May 5, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- There must be a study of transportation issues in metropolitan Providence, Mayor David N. Cicilline says.

But it is unclear exactly what the mayor wants to pursue. John C. Simmons, Cicilline's director of administration, and Karen Southern, his spokeswoman, say only that the area's transportation needs must be thoroughly examined.

The issues to be analyzed include rail and bus service, transportation among universities and other large employers in Providence, and the relocation of Route 195, among others, Simmons said recently.

Cicilline has had a bill introduced to the General Assembly that would create a 17-member legislative study commission on transportation and appropriate $375,000 for the study.

Besides Providence, the study area would include North and East Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Cranston and Warwick.

A demand by the Providence business community for more parking garages in downtown Providence has been on city officials' minds lately, and Simmons acknowledged that garages would be a subject for the commission.

"There may be no need to change any of the transportation [modes]. . . . ," Simmons said. "Maybe we need to build two parking garages that are in an area that could bring people in and out of the downtown area so that we don't have as much congestion either at night or in the morning."

The bill says the commission would focus on the use of transportation to stimulate "smart growth" and economic development. The smart growth concept generally has to do with the maximum utilization of urban assets and an avoidance of costly suburban sprawl.

The bill would also mandate the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Legislative Services to arrange for quarters for the commission, which would be scheduled to report its findings by Feb. 3, 2005 and to expire on April 3, 2005.

The commission would be composed of three members from the House of Representatives, to be named by the speaker; three members from the Senate, to be named by the Senate president, and six members from among the mayors or city managers of the cities and towns in the study area.

The rest of the members would be the director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, the director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the executive director of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, the director of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation and the executive director of Grow Smart Rhode Island.

From The Providence Journal

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