Governor Gina Raimondo, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin, and Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, Jr. today joined with the Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly to celebrate the reopening of the Westerly Train Station in downtown Westerly.
The station has been closed for two years, following Amtrak's change to online and mobile smartphone ticketing. Through a unique partnership with the Artists' Cooperative, train passengers will have an indoor waiting area and access to restrooms while providing a new arts venue for the Westerly community. The station will be open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
"This project is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished through successful partnerships. The state, local community and the Artists' Cooperative worked together on a solution that will provide a vital service to the public while expanding the cultural fabric of the community," Governor Raimondo said.
"It is great to see this historic train station being reopened to welcome travelers and art lovers alike. Instead of just a platform for passengers, it will serve as a platform for talented local artists to showcase their work in this unique setting," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. Senator Reed is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), who worked to provide record funding for Amtrak in 2018, some of which will help Westerly Train Station make needed improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Congressman Jim Langevin said, "This creative approach for reopening the Westerly Train Station provides a temporary home for the Artists' Cooperative of Westerly, ensuring the public retains access to the works of local artists. I applaud the Gallery and RIDOT for working together to support Rhode Island's art economy."
"Westerly Station is an important part of our transit infrastructure," RIDOT Director Alviti said. "It is wonderful to see it come back to life with a new tenant. We appreciate the willingness of the Artists' Cooperative to welcome Amtrak passengers. It creates a sense of vitality."
Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly President Arlene Piacquadio said, "The Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly is pleased to join with RIDOT and the Ocean Community United Theater to unite our community through the arts with work of local artists displayed in the Westerly Train Station."
The gallery will remain in the station until renovations are complete on its former location, the United Theatre complex. Once renovated, the complex will be home to the gallery and will be the first satellite location of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School.
The historic Westerly Station provides service for Amtrak's Northeast Regional trains, with nine stops on weekdays and six stops on weekends. In 2017 nearly 44,000 riders used the station.
Amtrak will be investing approximately $2 million dollars in Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements at the station, starting this year. This includes new elevators that will be installed on the exterior of the station for access to the existing tunnel that connects the northbound platform with the southbound platform.
The station is owned by RIDOT and has served train passengers since 1912. RIDOT undertook a complete restoration of the historic structure in 2000. It replaced a depot on the site that was built in 1837.