PROVIDENCE – Thanks to approval of federal funding allocations, the state has released the details of $5.7 million in improvements to the Providence railroad station, which serves Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passengers every day.
The 16th-busiest station out of 500 for Amtrak in terms of ridership, the Providence station will see the entrance plaza on the south side of the station repaired, along with an upgrade for pedestrian and handicapped access as well as for buses, taxis and other vehicles that serve the more than 1 million passengers who arrive and leave at the station per year.
“In its 27-year history, the Providence Station has become a major hub for trains, buses, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists,” said R.I. Department of Transportation Director Michael P. Lewis in prepared remarks. “It’s starting to show its wear and tear. It’s critical that we maintain and improve this facility and position it for the future as a major rail stop on the Northeast Corridor.”
Attending a ceremony Monday morning at the station, in addition to Lewis, were Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as U.S. Reps. James R. Langevin and David N. Cicilline and Providence Major Angel Taveras.
The project is expected to begin in the summer, now that all the funding for the planned improvements has been lined up from a number of federal sources and approved by state agencies. For instance, because the Wickford Junction rail station construction project came in under budget, $1 million is being re-directed to the Providence station work. In addition, $500,000 is being contributed through the R.I. Public Transit Authority’s Federal Transit Administration’s Bus Livability Grant.
“Providence Station is the gateway to downtown Providence,” said Chafee. “These upgrades and improvements will help us make the experience of traveling to Providence via rail more convenient, more pleasant, and more reflective of our outstanding capital city.”
At the same time, RIDOT announced that it was engaging in an analysis of the potential for enhanced high-speed, commuter and freight traffic at the station, using a $3 million Federal Railroad Administration high speed rail program grant.
Amtrak also said that, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, it was engaged in a program to improve security at its stations throughout the United States, including Providence.