Greater City Providence

Rhode Island awarded portion of rail money rejected by Florida

Providence Station

ProJo reports today that Rhode Island has been awarded $28 million in funds rejected by Florida. When Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, rejected $2 billion dollars in high speed rail funding, awarded by the federal government, other states started scrambling to get a piece of it.

Rhode Island’s Senators Reed and Whitehouse applied for funds for 3 projects here. Two of those projects were awarded funding:

Rhode Island – NEC Kingston Track, Platform Improvements – $25 million for design and construction of an additional 1.5 miles of third track in Kingston, RI, so high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 150-mph can pass trains on a high-volume section of the Northeast Corridor.

Rhode Island – NEC Providence Station Improvements – $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work to renovate the Providence Station. These upgrades will enhance the passenger experience, keep the station in good working order and improve transit and pedestrian connectivity.

The Kingston project will allow for the commuter rail to be extended from Wickford Juntion, to Kingston, providing a rail stop for URI and allowing connections between its main and Providence campuses. As well as allowing for commuter transit for South County residents.

As for Providence Station, we’ll just talk about that in another post soon.

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.


  • It would be so nice to have a functioning clock there. The non-functioning clock makes the whole station look like it’s one step above the completely abandoned Pawtucket/Central Falls station. Of course, Providence station is also in desperate need of some decent bike parking. There aren’t enough racks next to the station to accommodate the number of cyclists using the station, and the racks out in the island are completely useless as I documented here:

  • Oh, there’s so much to say about the train station, but I’ll wait for the later post on that…

    But back in ’09, I had an editorial here where I suggested that the city should create a “Station Square” to give some there-there to that space (

    While the city is in a “Squaring” mood (ex: PPAC Square), how about a redone plaza in front of the station where vendors of all types could set up shop? That area has one of the highest pedestrian volumes in the city, the vending licenses could generate city revenue (and tax revenue), and it would create jobs…

    Of course, this would mean station officials would have to stop parking their personal vehicles on the plazas…

  • I like the idea of street vendors over there. I’m always hungry when I’m over there and I don’t like Cafe La France. Plus you have all the state workers who would come down to eat on their lunch breaks.

    Re: the AMTRAK employees parking there, that seems to be standard AMTRAK procedure at train stations, I noticed they do the same in Baltimore at Baltimore Penn Station.

  • It’s been over a year since I’ve taken the commuter rail to Boston, and maybe things have changed, but I’d be nice to have a real MBTA kiosk. Buyin tickets out of a lockbox from someone who sells pastries too is weird.

    Regardless, we should all send Gov. Scott a big “thank you” card.

  • @Andrew, “Buyin tickets out of a lockbox from someone who sells pastries too is weird.”

    I agree completely.

    …and WHY is it cash only? Seriously, that just seems shady. We can (almost) pay for parking with a credit card, but not transit?

  • The reason for buying MBTA tickets out of a shady cash box next to the pastries is, you guessed it, Amtrak.

    Amtrak used to have the contract to operate the MBTA commuter rail. After endless problems with Amtrak’s performance, the MBTA awarded the contract to MBCR. Since Amtrak owns (or leases, I’m not sure which) the ticket windows at the station, and Amtrak is no longer operating the commuter rail, Amtrak kicked the T out of the ticket window. No agreement to lease a spot to the T or allow the T to pay them to sell tickets or nothing. So the shady lockbox is now how the tickets are sold.

  • I don’t mind buying the tickets from the cafe, but I hate that it’s cash only. I rarely carry cash with me these days. You can buy T tickets in Boston using a card, why not commuter rail tickets?

  • R.I. getting on board [The Providence Journal]

    The money will help renovate the Providence Station, [RIDOT Director Michael] Lewis said, and also help to improve its flow, removing the need for Providence and Worcester Railroad trains to wait while passenger trains are in the station.

    The Providence station plan will also help integrate high-speed rail with commuter rail, local and regional bus service, a spokesman for Sen. Jack Reed said, and a pedestrian and bicycle network will be created as part of the project.

    It will also include a plan to address hazardous materials shipments as well as tunnel and station safety analyses, he said.

  • Getting 28 million is something but getting 128 million would have been better. with 128 million we could have started construction of the new MetroPVD street car system. But any improvements to the PVD station and commutter rail to South County is good news.

  • I read that the money that FL gave back had to be used for Amtrak related projects. Not eligible for Commuter rail, streetcar, etc.

    I think Amtrak actually owns Providence station.

  • I believe it had to be spent on high speed rail improvements, not necessarily Amtrak. For example, I don’t think the plan for California high speed rail currently is for Amtrak to operate it.

  • Today was RIDOT Director Lewis’ quarterly meeting with nonprofit advocacy reps. Among other things, we learned this: Amtrak will be fixing the clock at Providence Station (on its own dime, or rather its own $70k), the $3 million allocated for Providence Station from the rejected FL funds will go toward planning + design rather than construction (the remainder of the funds, for South County, will be construction).

  • I’m with Emily (et al.) – FIX THE DAMN CLOCK ALREADY! It’s shameful and very frustrating, esp. given that the station is actually a pretty elegant design, if grossly ill-maintained, and not all that old. The shattered limestone facings around it and lack of adequate bicycle parking are also major needs. Why can’t we have anything nice?! (lol).

    As to the MBTA ticket sale ridiculousness: classic Amtrak. I need to note that I’m a great lover of train travel, but am all in favor of blowing up/scuttling Amtrak as one of the most misguided and ill-run arms of the federal government, not to mention a perennial whipping-boy distraction [from more important issues] for the Right. It seems there’s nothing that Amtrak can’t screw-up and make even less timely and more unpleasant than the airlines.

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