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Friendship-Clifford Street Bridge
The Friendship-Clifford Street Bridge, connecting the 195 parcels with Upper South Providence across I-95, is an underutilized resource. It is a dirty, empty, concrete expanse that discourages use as a walking and biking connection across the highway, serving as a barrier between neighborhoods rather than a connection. This despite the fact that it has ample width for sidewalks and bike lanes. But that’s not all that can be done. We have other ideas too.
Existing lighting is high, overhead, uniformly spaced cobra lights. These are lights designed for highways, not for the human scale of walkable and bikeable urban environments. There are so many more creative and interesting ways to light the bridge, such as artistic lighting, uplighting of the bridge’s underside, irregular spacing for lights, upward or downward facing lights focused on the sidewalk, and lighting that ties in with the approaches on either side of the bridge. We can do so much better for inviting lighting on this bridge.
Benefits of installing an arboreal buffer and threshold at the Friendship-Clifford Street Bridge include:
- Creating a green gateway and relationship between the two neighborhoods joined by the bridge.
- Reducing the perceived overall length of the bridge by as much as 80 feet—or 15%—by planting to the 40 ft. buffer at both thresholds.
- Creating a visual and sound buffer zone between the I-95 corridor and the adjacent neighborhoods.
- Establishing a visual landmark for pedestrians and bicyclists approaching the bridge from the south and east.
There are so many exciting things that can be done with paint and planters. In both the short term, tactical urbanism scale and the longer-term scale, there are artistic and safety features that don’t cost much and would improve the bridge dramatically. And there are so many surfaces that have potential for use in this way: the security fences on the bridge, the road surface, the underside of the bridge, the sidewalk, the crosswalks…. We can get creative, we should just do something!
The Friendship-Clifford Street Bridge is presently an uninspired —but critically important—section of CITY WALK that can be enhanced greatly by applying a variable, rich, and textured program to the pedestrian experience.
- New planting design to increase tree density. Add evergreen trees and shrub layer for visual enclosure and road noise mitigation.
- New environmental graphic and materials design incorporating protected bikeway/sidewalk barriers.
- New pedestrian scaled lighting design. Variable rhythm rather than monotonous regularity.