A selection of photos readers have recently shared in our Flickr Group:
Archives For Providence Station
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 – 12:00 NOON
Department of Planning and Development, 444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903
- Roll Call
2.1 Approval of Commission Meeting Minutes of October 10, 2012 and December 12, 2012
2.2 Acceptance of DRC Meeting Minutes of September 25, 2012 and October 23, 2012
- Welcome New Members
- Election of Officers
- 2013 CCC Meeting Schedule: Acceptance of the Capital Center Commission’s 2013 Meeting Schedule
- Parcel 7: Providence Station Proposal to install bollards, fencing and gates as part of Amtrak’s security project at Providence Station.
Recently, RIDOT received $3 million dollars in Federal high speed rail funds for renovations at Providence Station. Among the items that money is set to be spent on is renovations and repairs to the exterior of the station.
We’ve received plans for those renovations and were less than thrilled.
Providence Station is 26-years-old. Lack of routine maintenance aside, when buildings are approaching their 30th birthday, it often is time for renovations, and those renovations offer a chance to reassess the building, to make changes to bring it into line with conditions that weren’t present when the building was constructed.
In 1986, when Providence Station opened, rail travel was on the wane. Gas cost 93¢ per gallon, the MBTA did not serve Providence, there was no Amtrak Acela service, Capital Center was still on the drawing board, and no one was talking about streetcars in Providence. Basically it was built because cities are supposed to have train stations.
There is a very good reason why train stations have clocks, it is so you can know how long you have before your train arrives. So the fact that each clock on the clock tower at the Providence Train Station has displayed a different time for the better part of forever has been a terrible embarrassment.
So thank goodness, the clocks are finally fixed. The above photo was sent in from Cliff Wood at 9 o’clock this morning. This is almost as exciting as when the escalators were finally fixed.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $82.7 million to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont. The dollars will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven – Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor’s main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, RI. The third track will permit faster trains to overtake slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and commuter trains. Throughout the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston, $1.75 billion is being invested to improve service.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental reviews for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant platforms at the Providence station on the Northeast Corridor. The project also includes improved parking and pedestrian access, station repairs, potential reconfiguration of transit circulation and drop-off facilities, and future tunnel improvements.
Information about funding for projects in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont at the Federal Railroad Administration website.
A couple months I Rebooted Providence Station. Shortly after that, Portland, Oregon based architect Jonathan Winslow forwarded me the plan he did for the station area while he was a student at RISD.
On his website you can see that Jonathan’s plan is a complete re-imagining of the existing train station. The new station features an atrium allowing light to reach down to the railroad platforms, an attached hotel, expanded restaurant and retail space, visitor information, new ticket booths, expaned waiting areas, and more.
REBOOT is an occasional series of posts on GC:PVD where we identify areas of the city that display poor urbanism and propose ways to improve them. Our interventions may be simple and quite easily realized, or they may at times be grand and possibly take years or decades to complete. Either way, we hope they generate interest and discussion.
Oh Providence Station… why are you such a dump?
Of course the short answer to that is that we have not taken care of it. But this post is not about the sad condition of the station, it is about the fact that the station was a mistake to begin with.
Of course we used to have the stunning Union Station which is now the home of the Rhode Island Foundation and other offices. The river and railroad relocation projects resulted in the tracks leaving Union Station behind and a new station being built.
When Providence Station was opened in 1986 we were deep in the heart of the automobile age. Gas supplies were cheap and seemingly inexhaustible, Amtrak was kind of a quaint hobby that we north-easterners insisted on keeping in service, and the MBTA did not reach Providence. This resulted in a station that is too small for our post-$4/gallon gasoline world. A station that is inconveniently located away from the city’s major employment centers (and with the removal of Route 195, the city’s employment centers are poised to move further from the train station).
Were it maintained properly, the station is certainly handsome. The clock tower nicely pierces the skyline, the low slung dome is handsome and adds a modern bent to the collection of domes we have in our fair city, the interior is attractive. However, the interior is not spacious enough for the passengers we have utilizing existing MBTA and Amtrak services, and the station will become more crowded as MBTA services expand southward and if a Blackstone Valley commuter service is ever instituted. And as the price of gas continues its generally upward trend, more and more people will turn to the trains.
Let’s not waste time blaming the planners from the 80′s for their shortsightedness on the station’s design, let’s instead consider what we can do to modify it for a world that is very different from 1986.
Bret wrote a post a couple years ago in which he cited me as referring to the station as a hundred-year mistake. He went on to highlight some of the short comings of Capital Center area as a neighborhood, and suggest some solutions. We were to write a Part II to that post and never got around to it, this is that Part II I suppose.