Greater City Providence

Rhode Island Assembly, Speeds Approval for Parking Garage, No Money for Commuter Rail Station


Location of proposed Garrahy Parking Garage

In wee-hours of Saturday morning, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill to speed the construction of a parking garage in Providence, but failed to provide funding for a proposed commuter rail station in Pawtucket / Central Falls.

The Providence Journal: R.I. House passes bill to speed garage project by Providence courthouse

A bill speeding construction of a $45 million parking garage next to the Garrahy Judicial Complex downtown passed the House Friday night and is one step from clearing the General Assembly.

Requested by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to advance a planned life sciences development, the bill would eliminate a requirement that the commission reach agreements to sell three parcels of the property it controls on the former interstate highway land before the garage would be built.


Instead of requiring three purchase-and-sales agreements on the I-195 land before the garage could be built, the bill would require Wexford/CV to lease at least 400 parking spaces.

Then this happened on Twitter and I went ballistic.

The Providence Journal: Plans for a $40M commuter train station in Pawtucket hinges on U.S. grant

Rhode Island’s recent history with new train stations, like the sparsely used Wickford Junction station in North Kingstown, casts a shadow over arguments for a new commuter rail station in Pawtucket.


The free-market Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity has put the station plan in its cross-hairs, adding the funding bill to its “five worst” list for the year and saying it aligns with a “submissive philosophy” that Rhode Island should be considered a suburb of Boston.


Although the bill to spend $10 million in state funds, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Tobon, D-Pawtucket, did not clear the General Assembly, the long-planned station is not dead.

In April, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation applied for a $14.5 million federal grant to finance the project. The U.S. Department of Transportation typically awards those grants each fall.

Great, so we can’t have a train station because of Wickford and someone having a small dick about our relationship with Boston.

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.


  • This is exactly what I feared when the Wickford station was prioritized over an infill station in Pawtucket. “Welp, nobody uses this train station in the middle of nowhere that’s inconvenient to get to and is in an area where nearly everyone owns a car. That must mean that a station in the middle of a dense urban built environment minutes from Providence will also fail!”

  • Not the news I wanted to hear today 🙁 well there goes my optimism.

  • I despise this parking garage/lot nonsense as much as anyone else. I’ve been watching Brown create the one on Brook Street, after having purposely allowed houses to decay for years so that it would be easy to justify knocking them down. It’s very sad, as there is very little left of the structure of the neighbourhood that used to be there.

    Even so, I’m not sure I understand the desire for the Pawtucket station. As a frequent rider of the Providence line, I don’t see why South Attleboro does not suffice. Having two stations so close together simply doesn’t make sense, and will only slow down service. As it is, South Attleboro is easily accessed from Pawtucket via the #1 bus, and, according to an April 2016 ridership count, has more passengers boarding daily than Providence.

    I’d say that one cannot have both South Attleboro and Pawtucket. The priority should be on making South Attleboro better, i.e. expanding it two four tracks as Amtrak has planned, building full high-level platforms, and a proper over-bridge to replace the rusting piece of rubbish that’s there.

    On another note, I wonder if anyone has noticed that MBTA ridership at Providence station has gone way down this year. It used to be the busiest station in the system, but is now in 10th place. Take a look at this report (

  • The reason South Attleboro is no substitute for a Pawtucket/Central Falls station is the fact that you NEED a car or one of a few buses to get there. A new station at the Union Wadding site would be within easy walking distance for thousands. S. Attleboro is a Park & Ride – Pawtucket would be an actual urban rail station.

  • You simply cannot expect a government whose primary constituency is the upper income suburban private car driver to gleefully spend money on public transit projects. Yes, they may pay lip service to how important transit, bikes, and pedestrians are, but at the end of the day, it’s all about making sure that people have a convenient place to park their cars. Only a mass, public demonstration against will put pressure on elected officials to change course.

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