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Providence - October 2011

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Providence, RI — Streetcar Route Selected

Rail Transit Online, October 2011

A two-mile (3.2 km) streetcar route through the center of Providence has been selected by the city and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

The starter line would link many of the community's main traffic generators including the hospital complex, College Hill, Kennedy Plaza and the newly designated "Knowledge District." However the railroad station, which serves approximately 70 MBTA commuter rail and Amtrak intercity trains daily, was excluded from the project after much deliberation.

Planners said it wasn't practical to include both the station and College Hill in the same line; the former is about a 10-min. walk from Kennedy Plaza. However the station is included in a list of six possible extensions. The capital cost, including the purchase of four or five cars, has been estimated at $126 million but is expected to generate substantial property development and thousands of jobs.

The plan will probably go before the RIPTA board of directors next month but will also need the approval the governor, the state legislature and other government agencies before a funding application can be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration.

The financing scheme calls for Washington to cover 50 percent of the cost with the remainder coming from borrowing, a benefit assessment district and local taxpayer sources.

The next step would be preliminary engineering and design followed by construction starting in 2014 if the money is forthcoming, a big "if" because RIPTA is facing a major deficit and future federal transportation funding is far from assured.


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