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10 To Watch: Allen Penniman

Principal Planner, City of Providence

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Name: Allen Penniman

Occupation: Principal Planner, City of Providence

Age: 33

Neighborhood: Fox Point

Notable prior experience: Has worked on urban planning and design projects in China, Aruba, Peru and rural Mississippi

Last September, after community groups, RIDOT and the general public has offered their input on the future of the 6-10 Connector, Governor Raimondo disappointed everyone by fast-tracking a plan to simply rebuild what’s there. In October, the City countered with an alternative: a limited-access parkway with a signature “halo” interchange at its center. It was the vision of urban planner Allen Penniman. “That conceptual design got us to the table with the State,” he explains. “We spent the better part of autumn working with the Governor’s Office and RIDOT to incorporate the principles into a final design that RIDOT could put out to bid.” The compromise, unveiled just as this was going to press, includes concessions to all sides: reducing the number of bridges, shortening the Huntington Avenue viaduct by half, fixing the kinks in existing traffic patterns, adding 1.4 miles of bike paths and two pedestrian crossings over train tracks, reclaiming 4.8 acres of land for development, and staying within the $400 million already budgeted for the project. (The “halo” did not make the cut.) “This project is about restoring social and economic vibrancy to our neighborhoods,” Penniman says. “Silver Lake, Olneyville, the West End and nearby neighborhoods have been the victims of past transportation projects. We’re trying to make sure that this time around, they are the beneficiaries.”

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