This morning, during a ceremony at Amtrak's Providence Station, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and other State and Federal leaders gathered to unveil exterior site design improvements to a station that attracts more than one million Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) passengers each year. Providence Station, which opened in 1986, along with the relocation of the Northeast Corridor, was the first project to be built in the newly created Capital Center.
To help extend and preserve Rhode Island's growing rail system, and to further protect this vital transportation hub, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will enhance the physical appearance of the Station while upgrading and reconstructing pedestrian and vehicular access. Through this short-term improvement project, the State will invest approximately $6 million in State, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds.
"Providence Station is the gateway to downtown Providence, with over one million passengers passing through the Station's doors each year," Governor Chafee said. "These upgrades and improvements will help us make the experience of traveling to Providence via rail more convenient, more pleasant, and more reflective of our outstanding capital city. I am strongly supportive of strategic investments that strengthen our infrastructure – this is certainly one such project, and I am grateful for the State-Federal partnership that made it possible."
"I am pleased to have secured Federal funding to improve our rail system and help upgrade the Providence Station to make it more accessible and efficient," said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriation's subcommittee that oversees Federal transportation funding, who helped secure $5.2 million in Federal funds that will be utilized for this project.
"Investing in Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure is important for our State's economic growth," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Repairs and renovations at the Providence train station will improve the daily commutes of hard-working Rhode Islanders and create much-needed construction jobs at one of our State's most important transportation hubs. I congratulate RIDOT for a great job putting this project together."
The Providence Station Area Improvements are supported by Amtrak, the City of Providence, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the Providence Foundation, the Capital Center Commission, Capital Properties, Metro Park, Providence Place Mall and other adjacent businesses.
"From economic growth, to more convenient travel options for hard-working Rhode Islanders, to the creation of more construction-related jobs, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation's initiative should give our State something to be proud of," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "This project shows that the value we get in return for making infrastructure a priority in our budgets is far more than the cost of the initial investment. I look forward to seeing further progress on this project, and I commend RIDOT for their commitment thus far."
"I'm thrilled that Rhode Island continues to have a commitment to our Northeast Corridor rail system and the infrastructure that supports it. These site improvements for Providence Station will make it more accessible and attractive to current and future Amtrak and MBTA passengers, and makes excellent use of State and Federal funds to ensure that Providence remains a strong rail transportation hub," said Congressman David Cicilline.
A major transportation facility, Providence Station ranks 16th out of 500 for ridership for Amtrak. The Station currently handles 38 Amtrak trains and 32 MBTA commuter trains daily. There are 18 MBTA trains on Saturday and 14 trains on Sunday. RIPTA provides frequent bus service to and from the Station via Gaspee Street.
"The revitalization of Providence Station is another step forward towards enhancing critical infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor," said Joe Boardman, President and CEO, Amtrak. "Working with our Rhode Island partners, Amtrak is committed to bring passengers the first class travel experience they deserve."
Recognizing the vital connection between Amtrak and the City of Providence, Mayor Angel Taveras said: "By enhancing the Providence Amtrak Station, visitors will feel welcome from the second they step off the train and into our capital city. These improvements will create a more commuter-friendly city, to the benefit of residents and visitors."
Through the project, RIDOT plans to upgrade and reconstruct the entrance plaza south of Amtrak's Providence Station on the Downtown side, as well make pedestrian enhancements along Station Park. RIDOT also will repair damaged concrete and limestone areas, improve pedestrian and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access, and enhance circulation for vehicles, buses and taxis.
"As the State's lead transportation agency, we are committed to protecting this vital transportation asset," said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. "In its 27-year history, the Providence Station has become a major hub for trains, buses, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. It's starting to show its wear and tear. It's critical that we maintain and improve this facility and position it for the future as a major rail stop on the Northeast Corridor."
Other enhancements include the addition of bicycle parking facilities to accommodate the growing bicycle usage at the Station. In addition, a structural inspection of the existing south side plaza deck, and any necessary repairs to the joints and deck structure will be made. RIDOT also will replace the landscape planter structures and is looking to add improved signage to direct users to the Station.
Through coordination with RIPTA and its $500,000 FTA Bus Livability Grant, the project also will include improved bus connections to Kennedy Plaza, including streetscape improvements along Exchange Street. The project will also include a new RIPTA bus shelter on the Plaza side of the station to accommodate RIPTA's new R Line and enhanced bus service between the Station and Kennedy Plaza.
In addition to these short-term improvements, slated to be under construction in 2014, RIDOT also will undertake some future improvements. Utilizing a $3 million Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Rail Program grant, the Department will undertake an analysis of future improvements to position Providence Station for enhanced high speed and commuter rail, and growing freight rail. Possible long-term improvements include an analysis of the existing tunnel for future freight rail movements, additional parking, other access/egress points to the Station and platforms, and expanded Station amenities.
In the meantime, Amtrak is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a system-wide initiative to enhance overall security at their stations throughout the country, including Providence Station, where strategically placed bollards to restrict vehicle access will be put into place. The plan also calls for an extension of the existing fencing system along Amtrak's right-of-way and an improved exterior lighting system. Work is scheduled to begin sometime this summer.
Contact: Heidi Gudmundson (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4009