State, Feds won't get involved in controversial bike lane

A view of South Water Street in Providence, reconfigured by the city to include a bike lane (at right) will not be contested by state and federal highway officials. File photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By WPRO News

State and federal transportation officials say they’re not going to get involved or penalize Providence for a controversial bike lane and center-of-the-road parking scheme built into South Water Street, which runs along the Providence River.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation said its lawyers met with lawyers for the Federal Highway Administration and both agreed they “will not get involved nor will they implement any penalties against the City of Providence for the breach of contract”.

They are referring to a 1999 agreement stemming from the razing of I-195 that opened the area for development. State officials had suggested Providence could be liable for the more than $4 million in costs.

“We are aware that some of the adjacent businesses, including two universities, object to the City’s taking of a traffic lane from the highly traveled Route 44,” said the DOT statement that went on to say, “we sympathize with the abutters but since FHWA is not supportive of any corrective action, we encourage them to seek remedy through City government.”

Mayor Jorge Elorza told reporters last week he didn’t expect to face legal action as a result of the bike lane.

“I think that when people see how it is, they will appreciate it and enjoy it,” said Elorza, an avid biker.