Bus Tunnel Closing For Renovations

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure rebar isn’t supposed to show. RIPTA has announced that it will be closing down the East Side tunnel for repairs beginning this Monday; they hope to finish the project by the end of September. Built in 1914 to replace the trolley lines then scaling College Hill, the tunnel plan was selected over the creation of an “easy grade highway” for which we can all be grateful. That would have been a long ramp leading to a street cut through the brow of the hill, with the trolleys sharing the street with vehicular traffic. From the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority site:

Tunnel renovations will include new drainage, improved lighting, structural repairs and the renovation of the 110 year old bus shelter to its original splendor.

That page includes some old photos as well as renderings of the future look of the project. The website has info on where riders will be boarding during construction. They also have a Qr code for people who use these bus lines and need to know how their routine will be affected. We will all soon be sharing Angell and Waterman Streets with the buses and emergency vehicles.

Back in the 1940s it was U.S. Rubber who got busy convincing cities across the country that buses were the future of public transportation. From Wiki:

In 1948 the tracks were removed, and the tunnel was paved for use by buses and trackless trolleys. The tunnel was used by two trackless trolley routes, Elmgrove Avenue and Hope Street, from fall 1948 to fall 1953. The trackless trolley system in Providence was dismantled in the mid-1950s, the last route closing on June 24, 1955.

And now we all wish we had the trolleys back. At any rate, let’s hope the upcoming demolition and construction do not disturb the jellyfish upstairs in the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab. But the building should be fine:

The west portal of the tunnel was built directly under the Waterman Building (1893), the original classroom and museum gallery structure of the Rhode Island School of Design. Extensive and complex construction methods were required to support the building as the tunnel was bored underneath it


I can see that the bus shelter needs some freshening up, but I must admit: I love the barnacles . . . or wasp nests . . . or whatever they are.

Should be finished in time for the zombie fun run in October. This is the side on North Mains Street. The other end feeds out onto Thayer Street.


Sources used above:

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission report, 1989.

The Civic and Architectural Development of Providence, John Hutchins Cady.


1 thought on “Bus Tunnel Closing For Renovations”

  1. If only we could . . . lower the Trestle bridge, and reopen that other tunnel while the Washington bridge is demolished for maintenance.

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