Providence, RI — Mayor Backs Streetcar
According to radio station WPRI, Providence leaders have filed an application for $39 million in Federal funding to help build a streetcar system that would connect the Rhode Island Hospital neighborhood to College Hill on the East Side by 2017. Officials propose that the streetcar construction would benefit from and help develop the area beneath the recently completed relocation of a downtown section of Interstate 195.
“The Providence Streetcar is inherently linked to our vision for growth,” Mayor Angel Taveras wrote in a May 31 proposal to outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “The relocation of I-195 has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine the physical landscape of our downtown and position our city for sustained leadership in the knowledge economy."
The proposal calls for Federal TIGER funding to cover more than a third of the $114.4-million.
The balance of the cost would be covered by an array of city and state bonds as well about $5.25 million in additional federal funds secured by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Sponsorships, advertising revenues and $2 fares would be cover operating costs.
If funding is granted, construction would start by late 2015 and streetcar service would begin in 2017.
Mayor Angel Taveras described the streetcar system an “essential building block” to help Providence recover from the economic downturn that raised the city’s unemployment rate to 15.9% in July 2011. The rate had fallen to 10.3% in April.
Rhode Island has been awarded almost $43 million in federal TIGER grants since 2009, thanks in part to the advocacy of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and the rest of the state's congressional delegation. Providence is expected to learn by September whether this proposal is accepted.