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#Reason for Demolition
An upgrade to the roadway system in 2010 led to the removal of the overpass crossing Wickenden Street. Instead, the highway was moved south with a new bridge just feet from the Hurricane Barrier. The well-known murals on the retaining walls of the overpass went down in a pile of concrete as well.
For more photos, visit our property page covering the portion formerly over the Providence River.
I-195’s stretch through Providence was reconstructed with a $610 million project by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to relocate the Interstate 195 and Interstate 95 intersection. The relocation improved traffic safety, reunified the Jewelry District with downtown Providence, and freed up space for new development. The previous lane alignment was dangerous and created congestion, as lane shifts were often required to avoid a left sided exit-only lane. The concrete supports had deteriorated to the point that steel shoring were needed to reinforce the intersection’s many bridges.
In the process, some 35 buildings, housing over 80 businesses and six residences were demolished. The new stretch of highway is called the Iway by the RIDOT and includes a signature bridge over the Providence River as well as a landscaped pedestrian walkway over the highway connecting India Point Park to the Fox Point neighborhood.
Built in the late 1950s, RIDOT started to review plans to deal with the aging section of I-195 in the 1980s. Traffic volumes had increased tremendously over those 30 years. The highway designed for 75,000 vehicles a day carried more than 160,000. The old design had other problems. Tight curves, left-hand and closely spaced exits had contributed to excessive congestion, causing delays for motorists on I-95, the Route 6/10 connector, and on city streets.
RIDOT looked at three alternatives before choosing the one that was built. An alignment just to the north of the current highway was not selected as it would have corrected only the congestion and tight curves on I-195 itself. It would not have dealt with the weaving motorists face due to closely spaced exits at the highway interchange, nor would it have addressed better access to the Eddy Street hospitals campus, and it would have created only limited opportunities for redevelopment as outlined in the Old Harbor Plan. The plan outlines how the land occupied by the existing highway will be reused.
Another idea that was considered was a no-build alternative, one in which the existing alignment would be reconstructed. This would have addressed problems with deteriorated structures, but done nothing about the congestion, weaving conflicts and existing safety hazards. Additionally, traffic would have been severely impacted during construction.
Consideration of these choices led RIDOT to choose the alignment south of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. Safety problems and congestion issues could be addressed, and the removal of the old highway would allow for significant redevelopment of the Providence waterfront and fuller implementation of the Old Harbor Plan. Also, the redevelopment would complement other projects including the construction of Memorial Boulevard, Waterplace Park and the Riverwalk system, and the Capital Center projects.
Captured and excerpted on February 16, 2022 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_195_(Rhode_Island–Massachusetts)
The land cleared on the southern side of Wickendon Street, known as Parcel 6, is now being built upon.
#In the News
ART SPOTLIGHT Bachelder takes art to the wall and beyond
by Bill Van Siclen
Providence Journal | July 22, 1997
The artist: Brent Alan Bachelder.
What he does: Paintings, murals.
Where he’s been: Born Newry, Maine. Attended Rhode Island School of Design and Rhode Island College. Lives in Providence.
Club kids from outer space: Bachelder is the creative force behind Club Neopolsi Creations, a Providence company that specializes in sign and mural painting. “It comes from a comic strip that some friends and I created in high school,” Bachelder says of the company’s unusual name. “It was about this band of space pirates that visits different planets. On one of the planets was a bar called Club Neopolsi.
“I always liked the name, so when I started the company I called it Club Neopolsi Creations. I figured that even if people didn’t remember my name, they’d remember the name of the company.”
Making murals: “I started out as a sculptor,” Bachelder says. “But one thing led to another,” and since graduating from RISD in 1989, he has worked for a variety of clients, including Pastry Gourmet in North Providence, the Speaking Plants plant store in Pawtucket and the Union Station Brewery in Providence. Right now he’s decorating a bus for the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority.
Bachelder says he especially likes painting murals outdoors. “People honk, yell, engage you in conversation. It’s very interactive.”
Painting in prison: With a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Bachelder has also started a mural painting program at the Adult Correctional Institutions.
“I work with female inmates as part of a drug rehabilitation program,” he says. “They make the designs, pick the colors and materials and then paint the murals. There’s only one problem: We’ve been doing it for about a year now, and we’re running out of wall space.”
SICLEN, BILL VAN. “ART SPOTLIGHT Bachelder takes art to the wall and beyond.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. LIFEBEAT, 22 July 1997, pp. F-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/15251E1E8FAB42D0. Accessed 16 Feb. 2022.