The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and Amtrak are beginning work on a project in South County that will benefit train operations in the Northeast and long-term transit planning in Rhode Island.
The $41 million project involves construction of a third track at Kingston Station in South Kingstown, as well as construction of two high level platforms to allow full access to trains for passengers with disabilities. Layout of the third track will enable the regional Amtrak trains stopping at Kingston Station to come off the main line, while high-speed Amtrak Acela trains safely bypass them. This additional capacity would accommodate expanded commuter rail service to Kingston Station when the state expands commuter rail further into South County.
"This project launches important updates to Rhode Island's transit system that will attract more businesses to our state, create jobs, and increase accessibility for Rhode Islanders with disabilities," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Together, we are showing that good infrastructure matters to Rhode Island and to Rhode Islanders. I look forward to continuing to make smart investments to enhance transportation in our state and encourage long-term business growth."
"Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state, but commuters here use transit at a rate well below the national average," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "The improvements are an immediate benefit for Amtrak and their movement throughout the Northeast Corridor, and they provide a double benefit of enabling an expansion of our commuter rail in the future."
"Amtrak is pleased to be working with our partners in Rhode Island on this important project," said Mike DeCataldo, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Northeast Corridor Operations. "The operational flexibility afforded by these track improvements will reduce congestion and minimize delays at a key point in southern Rhode Island, improving reliability and efficiency for our customers traveling through or making connections on the Northeast Corridor. The construction of two high-level platforms will further benefit passengers by creating a safer, more efficient and more convenient boarding process."
Work will begin in July under a $17 million contract with Manafort Brothers Inc. that is being funded by a High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grant through RIDOT. The company will do the preliminary foundation work for 1.5 miles of new track, as well as install drainage, retaining walls and the pole foundations for the wires that run overhead. They will also raise the existing platforms at Kingston Station to make sure that they are level with the incoming trains to meet ADA requirements. The station improvements will be done in phases so service remains uninterrupted.
Once the preliminary work is complete, Amtrak will begin construction on the actual tracks and install the overhead wires. Final completion is scheduled for summer 2017.
The project is entirely funded by the federal government with $26.2 million dedicated through the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program for improvements at Kingston Station. Rhode Island was one of 15 states awarded a competitive grant in 2011, and was the only state to receive awards for two projects on the Northeast Corridor main line, the other being for the development of a long range plan at the Providence Station. The remaining cost of the work at Kingston Station will be covered by Amtrak.
"This is a smart investment in improving the infrastructure at Kingston Station and the efficiency of high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor. This project will help allow the Acela to bypass slower moving regional trains serving Kingston, as well as commuter trains, should service be expanded here in the future. The result will be improved efficiency, capacity, and safety here at Kingston. Rhode Island is a key piece of the busy Northeast Corridor and I am pleased we were able to put these funds to work," said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who helped secure federal funds for the program in 2011 and who successfully worked with then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to direct unused rail funds from other states to Rhode Island.
"Improving our rail system is a smart investment for Rhode Island and our transportation system nationally. It helps reduce the congestion on our roads, expand options for commuters, and provide good-paying jobs for workers," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. "I'm committed to fighting for infrastructure improvements - like the one we're celebrating today and all the important projects we need to get done."
"Improving Rhode Island's system of public transportation has a positive impact on tourism and the economy, providing travelers with better, more efficient transit options that open up professional opportunities and also reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions," said Congressman Jim Langevin, who serves as Energy Task Force Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in Congress. "What we are doing today is taking one more step in our long-term investment to increase the availability and efficiency of public transportation and to get more cars off the road to reduce our dependence on oil. This project adds to the foundation we are working to set to ensure that our 21st century economy has a 21st century infrastructure in place to support it."
"Making investments in high-speed rail is one of the most effective ways to strengthen our local economy and encourage more companies to do business in Rhode Island," said Congressman David Cicilline. "This initiative demonstrates our potential for progress when the state and federal government work together effectively. I applaud RIDOT and Amtrak on breaking ground for this important project today, and I look forward to supporting more innovative infrastructure investments like this one."
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Contact: Charles St. Martin - 401-222-1362, Ext. 4007