Providence, RI — Shortened Route Could Work
WPRI television reported that the revised routine for the Providence streetcar -- dropping the route through the tunnel to College Hill and routing it to Providence Station from downtown -- could have some advantages. Greater City Providence editor Jef Nickerson is quoted as saying: “With the train station alignment, the streetcar now provides a direct connection between URI’s Kingston campus and the nursing school being built in the Jewelry District, via existing Amtrak service.
It also provides for connections for technology firms we hope to attract to the Jewelry District to their peers in Boston via Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail. And since the streetcar was first proposed, voters approved a bond that would go toward developing a new RIPTA bus hub at Providence Station, consolidating and integrating a variety of transportation options at that location.
The state can support the streetcar project and make it more successful by working to increase the speed and frequency of MBTA Commuter Rail service between Providence and Boston and extending service to Kingston Station near URI. Transit advocates have been asking the city to consider exclusive lanes for the streetcar, to help speed through-service. Room for this potentially exists along Exchange Street near the train station, through Kennedy Plaza, along the Chestnut and Richmond couplet through the Jewelry District (if those streets are made one way) and along Eddy Street at the southern end. The city’s planning should consider those options.”
Subsequently, The Providence Journal reported that The City Council on April 16 voted to start studying a proposal to build the electric streetcar line through downtown and create a special tax district along the route to raise an estimated $47 million to help finance it. The total project cost is estimated at near $100 million, with the city contributing around $47 million, the federal government $34 million and about $13 million in state investment funds. The rest would come from the state transit agency RIPTA and land transfers from the state Department of Transportation.
As mentioned above, the revised 1.6-mile route would start at the Providence train station and connect with Washington Street near Kennedy Plaza. The plan originally called for the line to extend up to College Hill, but the train station origin point, with the Kennedy Plaza bus stations nearby, was seen as a better fit into the city's overall mass transit needs by providing train and bus riders with better service to get around the city. The College Hill segment could be added in a later phase.