Transportation

Governor McKee dodges questions about his support for the dismantling of Kennedy Plaza

“I’m happy to follow up on that,” said Governor McKee. “Keep this to the Covid, and I can tell you that…” “The people who are affected by this plan are the people who are most affected by Covid in Rhode Island,” countered UpriseRI, trying to prevent the Governor from ruling the question out of bounds.
Photo for Governor McKee dodges questions about his support for the dismantling of Kennedy Plaza

Published on March 18, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

At Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee‘s weekly press conference on Thursday UpriseRI reporter Steve Ahlquist inquired about the Governor’s support of the Raimondo / Department of Transportation plan to dismantle Kennedy Plaza.

“[UpriseRI] noticed that your proposed budget fully funds the RIDOT multi hub bus plan that will clear out most of the buses in Kennedy Plaza despite the opposition of the Providence City Council, neighborhood groups and racial justice and public transportation advocates. In fact, the only group [UpriseRI] can find in favor of the plan, besides DOT, are rich downtown building owners who want to clear out the homeless and working class people of color from Kennedy Plaza,” said UpriseRI reporter Steve Ahlquist. “The plan has been called racist, is the subject of a title 6 lawsuit, seems to misappropriate funds from a 2014 bond referendum and was done with virtually no public input, over the objections of riders.

“Why are you supporting this plan?”

“$35m is on the line to help improve transportation in Providence and we’re going to use it and I’m sure that the final plans will speak to the issues that you just talked about,” said Governor McKee.

“But RIDOT has refused to have any kind of public interaction with the riders or anybody else who has raised these objections for a long period of time, going on two years,” countered UpriseRI.

“I’m happy to follow up on that,” said Governor McKee. “Keep this to the Covid, and I can tell you that…”

“The people who are affected by this plan are the people who are most affected by Covid in Rhode Island,” countered UpriseRI, trying to prevent the Governor from ruling the question out of bounds.

“I answer again, that $35m has been appropriated to help transportation in the City of Providence and the smart thing to do is to find a good way to use it,” said Governor McKee. “And that’s the intention and that’s why it was in the budget.”

“But the $35m isn’t being [used] to improve Kennedy Plaza, it’s being used to dismantle it,” pointed out UpriseRI. “I mean, $35m can be spent either way, it could be spent for good or bad reasons. No one is objecting to the spending of money on public transportation, they are objecting to the way it’s being spent, to the adverse affect of the bus riders and Kennedy Plaza.”

“I’m just going to answer the same way,” said Governor McKee. “$35m invested in Providence right now is a good investment, especially coming out of the pandemic – when we lost 70% of the income to the businesses in downtown, so…”

“Hundreds of people, maybe thousands of people a day will be affected by this, adding twenty minutes, maybe an hour to their commute,” said UpriseRI.

“I’m confident that it’s going to be a good plan and we’re going to invest those dollars to improve transportation in Providence,” said Governor McKee, his final (so far) word on the subject.


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