HOPKINTON – A $9 million federal grant to build a new travel plaza and welcome center at Exit 1 off Interstate 95 was announced Monday by the state’s Congressional delegation as well as Gov. Gina M. Raimondo.
The U.S. Department of Transportation approved the state’s application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, meaning the federal government will cover approximately 75 percent of the $12 million transportation project once it moves forward.
The R.I. Department of Transportation is proposing to build the new facility on a 20-acre site near the Connecticut border.
The project includes:
A 6,000-square-foot Welcome Center, providing rest rooms, food options, convenience shops, bike amenities and tourism information for Rhode Island destinations and beyond.
A park and ride facility for up to 200 vehicles, serving the R.I. Public Transit Authority and intercity bus operators as well as tourists and drivers carpooling.
A RIPTA bus hub with shelter.
An intercity bus hub.
Up to 10 fueling stations, including alternative fuels and electric vehicle stations.
“This is an opportunity to build a first-class travel plaza that offers visitors and local residents new, convenient retail, food, fuel and travel options. We want to ensure it’s a state-of-the-art facility with modern amenities that helps travelers stay connected while also showcasing all the state has to offer. There is a lot of competition for these federal grants,” U.S. Sen. Jack F. Reed said in a statement.
“With federal funding now in hand, the state must build consensus for a cost-effective plan to secure the remainder of funds needed to build and operate this new facility. I will continue doing everything I can to help meet Rhode Island’s transportation priorities and ensure TIGER grant funding remains available,” Reed said.
Raimondo said the travel plaza will be built at the “gateway to our state.”
“We are working hard to build a statewide brand that showcases Rhode Island to the rest of the country as a great place to live, grow a business and visit as a tourist or business traveler,” Raimondo said. “I look forward to having this world-class facility in place so that every visitor can have a warm welcome to our Rhode Island, find new ways to stay connected and travel around the state, and learn more about all that we have to offer.”
In 2011, the state closed an outdated welcome center on the northbound side of I-95 between exits 2 and 3.
The release said the proposed center will fill a 100-mile gap in travel plazas along I-95 and also could help improve road safety by cutting down on so-called “drowsy driving.”
There were 29 “drowsy driving” crashes on I-95 in the vicinity of Hopkinton and Richmond over the past seven years, according to the state’s application.