State transportation officials this week started accepting proposals from construction firms to design and build a new commuter rail station to serve Pawtucket and Central Falls.
The state expects to award a design-build contract in early summer, with ground being broken in late 2017.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation kicked off construction Monday morning for the Pawtucket Central Falls Commuter Rail Station.
It’s slated to open in 2020, and will serve as a stop on the MBTA commuter rail between Rhode Island and Boston,
State officials say it will also function as a busing hub.
I obviously have not been paying enough attention. I knew this was closer to reality than it has been in decades, but I still thought we were going to be talking it to death for another year or two at least. Wow, great news!
Dozens of Amtrak and commuter trains pass through the two forlorn Rhode Island mill cities of Central Falls and Pawtucket, every day without stopping.
In more prosperous times, both had direct rail service to Boston and New York. But, in 1959, the historic Beaux-Arts station on the border between the two cities closed and train service ended for good 22 years later. Now, local leaders are betting that building a new train station will help both cities latch onto economic forces that have left residents struggling with poverty, unemployment and even a municipal bankruptcy.
A report on the state’s economy from the Brookings Institution, championed by Raimondo and released in January 2016, urged the state to focus on its competitive advantages, including its historic urban centers. It prioritized a new Pawtucket-Central Falls station to both improve access to Boston-area jobs and spur development in the heart of the two mill cities.
A long-discussed plan to expand passenger rail service to Pawtucket and Central Falls got a boost on Wednesday from a $13.1 million federal TIGER grant which will help build a new commuter rail station here, something the mayor of Pawtucket called a “game changer.”
The station, expected to cost $40 million, will be located between Dexter and Conant streets. It is within and adjacent to the Amtrak-owned railroad right-of-way between the Conant Street bridge and Dexter Street bridge, in the northwest corner of the city of Pawtucket, near its border with Central Falls.
The Pawtucket Foundation is hosting a public forum about the proposed station, Wednesday, August 3rd at 8:30am at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center. Details on Facebook.
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.
Rhode Island is making its strongest push yet for a Pawtucket commuter rail station long-sought by the city and neighboring Central Falls.
The Department of Transportation late last month applied for a $14.5-million federal grant for the project, which would be built between Dexter and Conant Streets and cost an estimated $40 million.
According to the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “TIGER” grant program, the state would contribute $3.6 million to the project and the two cities would combine to chip in another $3 million. The remaining $18.9 million would come from Rhode Island’s annual appropriation of federal transportation dollars.
The station could be completed as soon as late summer 2019, more likely early 2020.
More from the Pawtucket Foundation:
Pawtucket and Central Falls are a step closer to having a commuter rail stop on the Providence – Boston MBTA line. Last night, at a public meeting hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, officials noted that the station planning was at the mid-point of a lengthy process to establishing the station.
Mayor Donald Grebien, of Pawtucket, kicked off the meeting by pledging strong support for the project from the City. He noted that Pawtucket has been working to re-establish a rail stop for ten years, and while government doesn’t move fast enough, he expects to see the station completed within the next 5 years. The City of Central Falls was represented by Planning Director, Steve Larrick. Larrick noted that Mayor Diossa, also a strong proponent for the station, was in Washington D.C. meeting with Rhode Island’s congressional delegation to discuss a number of projects, foremost, a commuter rail stop.
The meeting was well attended by the public and entertained positive comments and constructive feedback regarding: station access for pedestrians, bikes and RIPTA service, development opportunities, landscaping and connections to the recently announced Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
From the Pawtucket Foundation:
You’re invited to attend a Rhode Island Department of Transportation & the City of Pawtucket/City of Central Falls Public Meeting concerning the future Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter rail station!
Blackstone Valley Visitors Center
175 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI
Open house: 6:00PM | Presentation 6:30PM
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), The City of Pawtucket and the City of Central Falls invite members of the community to attend a meeting to learn more about a potential Pawtucket/Central Falls commuter rail station. Officials will provide an update on the project and outline next steps for the potential station, which is proposed for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Providence Line. The Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center is located at RIPTA’s Pawtucket Transit Center and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish translation services will be available at the meeting. Individuals who do not speak the English or Spanish languages or who are hearing impaired may contact RIDOT on or before January 19, 2015 to request an interpreter. Please direct interpreter requests to email@example.com or (401) 222-2450.
Si esta información es necesaria en otro idioma, llame al (401) 222-2450. Se esta informacao e nevessario emu ma outro lingua, contate por favor (401) 222-2450.
Development of a future commuter rail station in the city’s Barton Street neighborhood, once little more than a dream, is now a good possibility within the next few years, said state officials last week.
City officials in Pawtucket and neighboring Central Falls say the train station would be a “game changer,” functioning as an economic driver and providing convenient transportation to commuters and tourists along the Northeast Corridor.
Did you want more transit news today? From the Pawtucket Foundation:
June 13th: 6PM – Commuter Rail Station Public Meeting
You are invited to attend a Rhode Island Department of Transportation and City of Pawtucket Public Meeting
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Open House: 6:00 PM
Presentation: 6:30 PM
Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center
175 Main Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the City of Pawtucket invite members of the community to a Public Meeting on Thursday June 13, 2013, to learn more about the Pawtucket Commuter Rail Station Project.
The meeting will take place at the Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center, 175 Main Street, Pawtucket. Beginning at 6:00 PM, representatives from RIDOT, the City of Pawtucket, and the project team, will host an open house to discuss the project and answer questions. At 6:30 PM, RIDOT will present an overview of the Pawtucket Commuter Rail Project, which is exploring options for a potential station to reintroduce commuter rail service to Pawtucket. The Project will evaluate site, environmental, and rail impacts associated with a new station on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Providence Line.
The Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center is located at RIPTA’s Pawtucket Transit Center and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish translation services will be available at the meeting. Individuals who do not speak the English or Spanish languages or who are hearing impaired may contact RIDOT on or before June 6, 2013, to request an interpreter. Please direct interpreter requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 222-2450.
- Si esta información es necesaria en otro idioma, llame al (401) 222-2450.
- Se esta informacao e nevessario emu ma outro lingua, contate por favor (401) 222-2450.
Rhode Island recently spent a large sum of money to extend MBTA commuter rail service south to TF Green Airport and Wickford Junction. Both of them feature large parking garages (although the TF Green Interlink facility is for more than rail transit) that are not typical of suburban train stations and were very expensive.
These stations are only served by select trains on weekdays only, and feature long journey times to Boston – 1:35 from TF Green and 1:50 from Wickford Junction. Though these stations can be useful for commuting to downtown Providence – I’ve used the TF Green service for that myself – Providence is not nearly the employment market Boston is. What’s more, the Wickford Junction station is in a particularly inauspicious location.
Unsurprisingly, ridership is low. TF Green had about 200 passengers per day as of last summer, and Wickford Junction about 150.
With a mind-numbing total price tag of $100 million for this project (the estimated cost of just the transit portions) – almost $300,000 per rider – it’s unlikely that this will ever be viewed as a successful project.
As with the philosophy of the Boston area commuter rail generally, this service expansion was based on expanding the coverage area, but not the quality of service. In effect, it is an equity investment to make access to transit more equally available geographically (though economically more troubled areas like Pawtucket remain without service, so it doesn’t provide more economic equity).
While geographic equity is a legitimate government goal, public transit requires certain characteristics such as origin and destination demand, density of residences and employment, and walkable destinations in order to work well. It’s possible to add service to areas, but that does not mean it will be cost effective or well patronized.
Additionally, the South County expansions don’t move the needle for Rhode Island. One of the biggest challenges facing the area is of course the economy. In the Greater New England there are basically two main sources of wealth generation: New York and Boston. To the extent that you are in New England and are tied to one of those markets, you are generally succeeding. To the extent that you are cut off from them, you are struggling. The Providence area struggles because it is not as able to tap into the Boston economy given the just far enough distance between them by both car and transit.
A couple recent newspaper articles about the future of the Pawtucket-Central Falls Train Station:
The Phoenix: Truce offers hope for preserving Pawtucket Train Station
Interesting development regarding Amtrak, from The Journal article:
The city claimed its position got a boost last week when officials from Amtrak, which runs the railroad lines that pass through the station, wrote Seelbinder to assert what Amtrak says are its rights to review and approve any demolition plan. Michael Stern, senior associate counsel for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation – Amtrak’s formal name – advised Moses that deed restriction placed on the property in 1972 gave Amtrak the right pass judgment on any demolition plan.
“To ensure the safety of Amtrak operations at the Pawtucket/Central Falls train station, demolition work may not proceed until Amtrak reviews and approves the developer’s demolition plans and the contractor’s means and methods of demolition,” Stern wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to Seelbinder’s lawyers.
J. Speck has some photos of the partial demolition on his Flickr page:
The Pawtucket Alliance for Downtown Success (PADS) continues to post updates about the station on thier site as well.
PADS has the full story. Earlier today Bilray Demolition Co. started demolishing a portion of the Pawtucket-Central Falls Train Station after obtaining a permit from the city of Central Falls. This a day after an engineering firm hired by the City of Pawtucket determined that the depot was the best location for bringing rail service back to Pawtucket; and a day before a Pawtucket City Council meeting that will discuss the future of the station, and it’s possible seizure by eminent domain.
The city of Pawtucket has obtained a restraining order which will halt the demolition for 8 days.
Tomorrow, December 6th, at 7:00pm at Pawtucket City Hall there will be a meeting to discuss the future of the station. The Pawtucket Redevelopment Authority will request the City Council to amend the city’s Redevelopment Plan to enable the PRA to acquire the train station by eminent domain.
Residents of Pawtucket are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting and express their desire for the station to be saved, rail service be restored to Pawtucket, and sensible urban development to take place on the depot site and in the surrounding neighborhodd.
Call the Pawtucket City Clerk’s office at 728-0500 for councilor contact information, or email the councilors at:
The future of Pawtucket-Central Falls train station has been the subject of much debate over the last several years. Currently the owner, Oscar “Ike” Seelbinder, has plans to demolish a large portion of the historic structure to build a CVS pharmacy.
On Wednesday, December 6th at 7:00pm local residents can express their dismay about this plan by attending the City Council public hearing on the future of the train station. Station supporters are looking for the City Council to move the train station property onto the official Pawtucket Redevelopment Plan. The meeting is at Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, 3rd Floor at 7:00pm.
The Pawtucket Alliance for Downtown Success (aka PADS) has written an open letter to CVS CEO Tom Ryan, urging him and the developer to come up with a plan for the site which saves the station and creates a more urban-friendly environment in this important area of Pawtucket and Central Falls.