Connect with us

Transportation

RIDOT’s “bewildering” response to Kennedy Plaza plan TITLE VI civil rights complaint

RIDOT’s written response to the complaint is superficial and flimsy and disregards the significant, disproportionate and negative impacts that RIDOT’s plan will impose on people of color, disabled and low-income populations across Rhode Island. RIDOT’s trivial response took 85 days, 25 days longer than the department’s own Title VI response guidelines.

Also: Newly minted lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos responds to question about the plan.

Published

on

In response to the plan by RIDOT plan – which is fully supported by Governor Daniel McKeeJohn Flaherty, deputy director of GrowSmart Rhode Island and Dwayne Keys, President of the South Providence Neighborhood Association filed a TITLE VI civil rights complaint against the plan. RIDOT recently responded to the complaint, and Flaherty and Keys respond to that response here:

“The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)’s plan to break up the central transit hub at Kennedy Plaza and scatter the bus stops and transfer points across downtown will mean more hassle and confusion for transit riders, longer travel times, more transferring and more waiting for buses without access to basic amenities such as public bathrooms. With less than five months to planned construction, RIDOT has not proposed an alternative where all transfers can take place in a single convenient location with access to amenities.

“RIDOT’s written response to the complaint is superficial and flimsy and disregards the significant, disproportionate and negative impacts that RIDOT’s plan will impose on people of color, disabled and low-income populations across Rhode Island. RIDOT’s trivial response took 85 days, 25 days longer than the department’s own Title VI response guidelines (page 8).

“The conclusions in the 5-point response are bewildering. For example, it states that “a final plan  has not been identified for this project” and “therefore there is presently no Title VI violation”.  

“However, according to RIDOT’s own RFP for design-bid-build services, a Construction Contract  Advertisement Date is scheduled for June 11, 2021 with “shovels in the ground” by August 27,  2021. And last November 5th, RIDOT participated in a press event stating that the multi-hub  project was moving forward. 

“The response by RIDOT is an affront to all those who will be negatively impacted by this deeply  flawed plan and is wholly inconsistent with President Joe Biden’s Executive Order On Advancing  Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities.

“It’s approaching seven years since voters approved a $35M transit improvement bond with nothing  to show for it but $2.1M spent on bond issuing costs, legal and consultant fees. RIDOT’s  inability to move this bond project forward is outlined in this 3-min presentation by House fiscal  staff to the House Finance Committee on April 7, 2021.  

“We call on Governor McKee to turn the project over to the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA). RIPTA has the requisite  expertise to skillfully develop an alternative plan with transit riders at the table so that we can  finally get on with making needed improvements to the public space in Kennedy Plaza while  also improving vital transit connections through Downtown Providence. And at the same time,  let’s get on with implementing the broader Transit Master Plan that RIPTA developed, with  significant public input, to get more Rhode Islanders where they’re going, quickly, efficiently and  affordably. For more background and media coverage about this controversy, click here.”

Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos

UpriseRI was at the first press conference of newly minted Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos of Wednesday morning. As Providence City Council President, Matos led the unanimous effort to pass a resolution against the RIDOT / McKee plan to dismantle Kennedy Plaza. Now that she is Lieutenant Governor, a position McKee sees a a partner to his role as Governor, what is her position on the plan?


Can you help us?

Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

Become a Patron!
Opens in a new tab - you won't lose you place

See her answer below:


See also:

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

atomicsteve@gmail.com