posted on: Thursday October 10, 2019
by Katie Belbusti ’22
As many students and fellow Providence residents have noticed, the city of Providence decided to repave Eaton Street to make the driving lanes smaller and add a bike lane. The city of Providence thought this improvement would add to the functionality of the wide Eaton Street; however after many complaints, the city of Providence has decided to pave it again to its original state.
The renewal of Eaton Street to its original traffic pattern came largely as a result of Providence residents, including some Providence College students and professors, expressing their concerns about the safety risks that the new lanes posed.
The fact that this community action resulted in change underscores just how much individual voices and involvement matter in the local community and its politics.
Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza spoke about the original idea of the project as something to benefit the community around PC and make it more pedestrian-friendly. The project was heavily funded and projected to be very successful.
Ultimately, people thought the new design of the street was actually a safety concern.
A Rhode Island resident as well as a student of PC commented on the safety concerns of the newly paved Eaton Street. Cara Turner ’22 stated that the “new” Eaton Street was dangerous. “I’ve had multiple dangerous experiences because of the new bike lane on Eaton Street. I’ve seen people drive into the wrong lane, cars come close to hitting each other because of how narrow it is, and traffic is much worse, especially during construction time,” said Turner. The city of Providence received many complaints of this nature and because of that, have decided to pave the street again to its former glory.
This short-lived debut of Eaton Street was disappointing for the city of Providence to witness, and changing it back is not a decision that the city of Providence is taking lightly. Unfortunately, the cost to pave the street back to its original form is more costly than the initial cost to create the bike lane.
While the residents and students of PC are happy to see the bike lane go, some feel it is a waste of the city’s resources and money that could be used towards the school systems.
The decision to pave the street back was made because of all the Providence citizens who took a stand and wanted to see their community do what is best for its residents.
At community meetings, many residents took a stand and voiced their opinions to benefit the greater community. It is people who take their civic duty seriously that help inspire the change they wish to see. It is an important lesson for everyone that your voice matters, and if you feel strongly about an issue, speak up and you will be heard.
The city of Providence took these concerns very seriously and did not hesitate to change Eaton Street back in order to appease its citizens. Turner said that she is very happy that the city of Providence listened to its people, saying, “I’m glad they are getting rid of it, but angry that so much money was wasted towards this issue. Ultimately, this will be the best decision for the safety of Providence College students and the residents of Providence.”
While the idea of paving Eaton Street was intended to benefit Providence residents, it is reassuring that the city of Providence listened to those who stood up for the greater good of their community.