PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza today joined Governor Gina Raimondo, the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation, representatives from the Federal Transit Administration, RIPTA, RIDOT and community stakeholders to announce plans for a 1.4-mile Enhanced Transit Corridor in Downtown Providence.
“This project is an example of the mutually beneficial outcomes that are possible when all levels of government work creatively and collaboratively,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Together with partners at the state and federal level, we are building a tool that will encourage economic activity and help strengthen Providence’s resurgence.”
“Fast, convenient public transit will help make Rhode Island a more attractive place to live and work,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “By building a new transit corridor connecting downtown, the 195 land, and our world-class universities, we’ll strengthen our pitch to businesses for why Providence is a great place to relocate or grow a business. At the same time, this project will help attract talent who want a city that is easy to access and get around. I am grateful to our Congressional Delegation, the City of Providence, RIPTA, and RIDOT for working together to bring these federal dollars to Rhode Island and make this project a reality.”
The project will provide peak bus service, on an average of every five minutes, connecting Rhode Island’s largest employment hubs and world-class institutions to the downtown core and adjacent neighborhoods, while passing directly through the LINK District, the City’s key redevelopment area made available by the recent relocation of Interstate 195.
“We need to better connect neighborhoods and economic centers across the City and ensure riders can safely and conveniently get where they need to go. The project Mayor Elorza and the State have developed will have the feel and convenience of a street car, with dedicated shelters and stops, signal prioritization, and frequent service — so if riders miss a bus across town during rush hour, they’ll only have to wait a short time for the next one. This plan offers greater convenience and more flexible service, while also saving about $100 million in capital costs that would have come with laying rails in the ground for a streetcar. This is a smart and cost-effective investment in enhancing Providence’s transportation system now and in the future, and I am pleased we were able to work with the U.S. Department of Transportation to make these federal TIGER funds available,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development (THUD).
“This new transit corridor will connect neighborhoods across downtown Providence,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “It will help workers, students, and shoppers get to some of Rhode Island’s largest employers, our world-class universities and hospitals, and the soon-to-be-redeveloped former I-195 land. By investing this federal grant money in infrastructure and modernizing our transit options, we are laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth and job creation.”
The project utilizes $13 million in TIGER VI funds which had previously been awarded for the construction of a street car. The revised proposal, which has been approved by the US Department of Transportation, is better aligned with the goals of the community, City, and State and can be delivered at an estimated total capital cost for the project is $17 million with additional funds provided by the state.
“A strong system of public transportation makes for a more accessible, livable community, and this enhanced transit corridor will make it easier for Rhode Islanders to live, work and play in our capital city,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “The City of Providence is open for business, and this transit system sends that message loud and clear.”
“Robust transportation systems are the key to great cities and help make them more attractive to new residents and improve quality of life for existing communities. I am proud to join with Mayor Elorza and local leaders to celebrate the new Downtown Enhanced Transit Corridor,” Congressman David Cicilline added. “Using federal funding, this exciting new transpiration model will provide better bus service to key destinations downtown and I look forward to working with my colleagues as this project continues.”
Service for the Downtown Enhanced Transit Corridor will run along Exchange, Dorrance, and Eddy streets, providing quick and reliable transportation between Kennedy Plaza, two new intermodal transit hubs planned for the areas around the Providence Station and the Hospital District, and key office, retail, entertainment, and institutional destinations both within, and beyond the Downtown core.
“At RIDOT, we are laser focused on the needs of our transportation system not only today, but in the future,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. “Projects like this one will provide a unique transit feature for the city, and will mark another step forward for more transit choices and better transit utilization for Rhode Island.”
“RIPTA is excited to be part of advancing the downtown Providence transit connector project, and we thank our federal delegates for their support throughout this application process,” said Raymond Studley, CEO of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). “RIPTA is looking forward to providing the City of Providence with this enhanced service as transit is key to economic growth. Furthermore, we are confident that RIPTA’s statewide network and services will provide needed connections to the LINK redevelopment district and surrounding areas.”
Bus stops along the corridor will include curb extensions to accommodate waiting passengers, bus shelters, seating, real time arrival information, increased signage, ticket vending machines for off-board fare payment, branding, WiFi, and integrated bike-share amenities.