Greater City Providence

South County rail moves forward


Rendering of Wickford Junction parking garage from Wickford Junction

The Providence Business News reports that the town of North Kingstown has amended zoning to allow for the construction of a 1,077 car parking garage at Wickford Junction.

Developer, The Cioe Companies plans to expand the existing plaza (anchored by a Walmart) into a mixed use transit oriented development featuring an MBTA commuter rail station attached to the proposed parking garage. RIDOT states that rail service to Wickford Junction will commence in 2010.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I wish they’d build more stations along the line, at least one in the center of East Greenwich. I really don’t like the MBTA’s tendency to avoid commuter rail stations in town centers in favor of giant parking lots in the middle of the woods. Well, at least it’s something, and the airport service will be useful. And maybe one day we might see a real Rhode Island Commuter Rail, and a connection to an extended Shore Line East.

  • Giant parking lots in the middle of the woods: How to make your mass transit investment stimulate exurban sprawl.

    No station in EG?? Are they worried about the riffraff or something?

  • There’s a group of people in East Greenwich seriously looking into the feasibility of a commuter rail stop on the south edge of downtown/Main St. At least one site study has been completed.

  • Part of the problem with putting rail stations in town centers is the availability of space for a parking lot. In those towns, most people that would use the train don’t live within walking distance of it. Also, it depends on where the tracks are located.

    However, if there’s room for the parking and the tracks are in the right place, the stations should absolutely go in or close to the town centers.

  • The East Greenwich option is mentioned on RIDOTs Intermodal Planning page:

    The East Greenwich Commuter Rail station has long been a vision for the Town of East Greenwich. The station would simultaneously fulfill two strategic goals for the town; the first being better public transit connections to the urban core of Rhode Island and the Boston region and the second being smart growth in a prime area for redevelopment within the town. By combining commuter rail development with redevelopment of vacant and underused land, a transit-oriented urban setting could be created in the town adjacent to its already urbanized core.

    East Greenwich Commuter Rail

    There is also a .pdf from 2005 about the project:

    East Greenwich Commuter Rail Station

  • If there are good intermodal connections, the need for a large number of parking spaces is not as much.

  • Aaron: That’s a good point, but there’s usually not good public transit in suburban or rural towns. I’d rather see RIPTA improve service and add routes in Providence than add more routes to the suburbs.

  • Aaron is right. What they need is dollar vans.

    That site is fortunate because the parking can be at the southern end where it will not blight the walkable section of downtown EG.

    It is important to realize that a commuter to Providence from NK or EG who does not work within a 10 minute walk of the train station will still probably drive until there are snappy trolley connections to other parts of town.

  • The 1000 car parking garage is on top of the 1000 car garage at the Airport. The state needs to decide whether they in the garage building business or whether they are serious about Transit Oriented Development which is about building community and providing pedestrian oriented mixed use development with multi-modal access to the train – not just cars. Wickford junction is a very nice shopping mall; but the lack of housing and/or office means that it will never sponsor the level of internal demand to reduce the demand for such rediculus amounts of parking. They also should consider shared parking demand. There is no way they need that many spaces.

  • I feel that such large and growing sums of money for a train station and huge garage should not in anyway be paid for by the state, local or federal government. If a train station and garage is really needed then it is AMTRAK that would devise a plan and bear the cost of all studied and construction.
    What confuses me is why the government is building this without confirmation that AMTRAK will place railroad tracks to the station. This just may be a train station without tracks.

  • The airport parking garage is predominently for the car rental companies. I THINK there is only 200-300 spots for commuters.

    All of these stations are to accomodate commuter rail, not AMTRAK. The platforms can certainly handle AMTRAK trains in the future, but AMTRAK needs to want to serve these new stops.

  • Commute time is something that is always going to be at issue. I said it here before. Narragansett to Downtown Providence in 35-40 minutes by car. I make that commute several times a month. My estimated commute time from Narragansett to downtown via a new Wickford station will be at least that if not more. You will not save time using rail. It has to be more about convenience. At the very least the trains should have wi-fi and outlets for plugging in. There also has to be a quick and easy way to get around Providence once you get to Union Station.

  • In response to steve s perhaps you don not understand that Amtrak is a run by the federal government and that congress in in charge of all it’s budgeting requirement. Also the tracks are in place it’s mostly the parking garage and station that need construction. The proposed station is for MBTA commuter trains not Amtrak in it’s initial phase. Since you have internet access you might want to spend some time researching your questions as the answers are all out there.

  • Correction to my last post here; there is somewhere around 700-800 commuter parking spaces at the TF Green Airport facility. I hear things are still on schedule for a late September opening.

  • East Greenwich Planning Department commissioned a study several years ago for a TOD at the Rocky Hollow Road to Maskerchugg River site. The recommendations included a rail station / retail on the Rocky Hollow Road (north) end of the site within walking distance of Main Street, a two-level parking deck (on grade plus one deck) in the middle of the site and lined to the north and south with commercial / retail, and a neighborhood of housing (30 units or so) on the Maskerchugg River (south) end of the site. East Greenwich is a great opportunity to have a station in close walking proximity to a vital and active town center.

  • It looks like there are businesses in the northern end of the EG site, what would happen to those employes and the other businesses that rely on those companys if the train station is put in? It seems that this would hurt the people who depend on what is there now.

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