Governor introduces plans to create tunnel under Kennedy Plaza
By: Ellie Romano
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - Governor Gina Raimondo's team revealed plans Thursday that involve creating a tunnel under Kennedy Plaza.
The proposal creates a tunnel for buses under Washington Street. The governor said the tunnel would make Kennedy Plaza safer.
"There have been accidents in Kennedy Plaza," said the governor. "We have to get the buses out of there."
She said the tunnel would also increase the efficiency of public transit.
The project would be funded by the $35 million infrastructure bond that Rhode Island voters approved in 2014. The state could also use some of the $25 million that Senator Reed recently secured for renovations to Providence Station.
Before any construction can begin, the Department of Transportation will hire a contractor to outline and engineer the plan.
Governor Raimondo said she wants in-depth planning to begin this fall.
"The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned," said Raimondo.
The plan would also create two new bus stops along Exchange Terrace, and two new bus stops on Washington Street. A connecting road between Exchange Terrace and Dorrance Street would also be created in the current Biltmore Park. Furthermore, an existing road in Burnside Park would be covered up and used as more park space.
Following the announcement of the governor's proposal, the group RI Transit Riders released a statement condemning the plan.
"RI Transit Riders is troubled to learn that top Rhode Island officials are considering spending tens of millions of dollars for this unneeded tunnel project," the statement read. "The bus tunnel proposal is backed by downtown real estate developer Joseph Paolino, who has a troubling record of suing RIPTA and working in opposition to bus riders."
The governor said she plans on listening to public comment in the coming months.
WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019