Enough ARRA Funds for Both Buses and Train Station
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Michael P. Lewis is refuting this afternoon’s Providence Journal blog entry that insinuates that dollars will not be available for new Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses.
“There are enough dollars to meet RIPTA’s capital objectives as well as the South County Commuter Rail,” said Lewis.
“I agree whole heartedly,” said John Rupp, RIPTA’s Board Chair. “Both bus and rail needs can and should be addressed with the available funds.”
At this morning’s meeting of the committee to evaluate Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funded projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) members of RIDOT, RIPTA, Statewide Planning, the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns discussed upcoming projects.
Although the ARRA funds available to Rhode Island from the formula FTA programs was $4.1 million less than the total estimated cost of the RIPTA and RIDOT projects presented, the committee felt ARRA funds from other programs and a favorable bidding environment will allow all identified projects to be implemented including bus and rail.
Director Lewis began the meeting by providing an overview of the ARRA program requirements, noting that the available funding could only be applied to capital projects. RIDOT and RIPTA members then reviewed the program specifics for FTA projects. Capital project needs for RIPTA and RIDOT, with a focus on South County Commuter Rail, were discussed.
At the end of the meeting the committee concurred on three points: the priorities for the FTA funded projects should be the use of all the available ARRA funding; support of RIPTA’s capital program needs; and support of RIDOT’s South County Commuter Rail program needs. The committee was also in agreement that all of the projects proposed by RIPTA and RIDOT should be funded.
“This morning’s meeting was indicative of the kind of cooperation and collaboration that can exist in and between State agencies even in difficult economic times where there may be competition for available resources,” said Frances Shocket, TAC Chair and a meeting participant. “The participants exhibited a respect for each other’s short term needs and acknowledgement of the need for long term planning that will benefit all Rhode Islanders.”
Contact: Dana Alexander Nolfe 401-222-1362 x4450