Arriving soon: $25M makeover at Providence Station
PROVIDENCE 2019--PROVIDENCE -- Providence Station is set for a $25-million makeover as state officials prepare to unveil separate plans in the coming weeks for a Rhode Island Public Transit Agency bus hub.
The train station renovations include replacing the station's leaky dome roof and extending the west side of the building to make more space for the cafe, passenger seating and restrooms. On the other side of the building, plans call for consolidating the Amtrak ticket and baggage area to expand the Amtrak police station on site.
The federal government will pick up most of the tab for the project. The Federal Railroad Administration has committed to a $12.5-million grant secured by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, Amtrak is kicking in $7.25 million and the state Department of Transportation paying the final $5.25 million.
"The station needs repairs. The bathroom facilities are ineffective and we need better facilities for police officers [who] protect passengers," Reed told reporters Monday. "The facility here ... is out of date. It is too small. [The improvements] will act as an inducement for more passengers."
DOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said failing to update the station now would only make the work more costly in the future.
Planned improvements also include rebuilding the walkway from the station to Providence Place mall with a mid-block crosswalk across Francis Street
Alviti said DOT would begin design work "right away" and have construction underway by this time next year.
The station project comes as Rhode Island looks to jump-start plans to build a RIPTA bus hub at the station and utilize $35 million that voters approved for mass transit in a 2014 bond referendum.
The DOT initially explored putting the bus station within a larger private development, but demand for commercial real estate was insufficient to make it work. Opposition to the DOT's plans to use part of the State House lawn for the project was also a barrier.
On Monday, Alviti said the DOT is finalizing plans for a publicly built bus hub -- or hubs -- to be rolled out "in the next several weeks" as a part of a bidding process for a company to build it. The exact footprint has not been set.
He said the DOT is looking not only at land around the train station, but at the possibility of another hub at the Garrahy Judicial Complex parking garage off Dorrance Street and another on land around the former Victory Plating site south of downtown, which could serve the nearby hospital complex. That bus hub could have a commercial component to it, he said.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island officials continue to meet with counterparts in Massachusetts and Amtrak to get nonstop MBTA express service between Providence and Boston. Raimondo has expressed her desire for such service for years, but has not been able yet to convince the MBTA and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to act on it.
The DOT last month commissioned a demand and economic study of 45-minute express trips between Providence and Boston. Consultants VHB estimated that nine daily express round trips would attract between 585 and 925 new riders per day. They projected the service would create between 1,195 and 2,035 new jobs over a decade.
"We had some discussions about [Boston express service] last week," Alviti said. "We are speaking with the MBTA at very early stages. This shows there is a benefit for Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in terms of jobs and in convenience of travel."