RIPTA selects construction and design partner for Providence bus hub

The Charlesgate stop on N. Main St. in Providence, southbound on the R-line. The R-line has 15 percent of RIPTA’s daily riders, and was launched a year ago. It’s fewer stops, and more frequent service, along what had been two of the agency’s busiest routes. PBN PHOTO/ MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Public Transit Authority has selected a construction and design partner to move forward on its planned downtown bus hub.

RIPTA’s board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a public-private partnership with Next Wave Partners, a consortium including Gilbane Development Company, Marsella Development, Gilbane Building Company, Plenary Americas, CUBE 3 and Jacobs.

Elsewhere in the city, the consortium has also worked on 100 Westminster St., Nightingale Apartments, the Providence Performing Arts Center and Union Station.

The planned bus hub, to be located at the intersection of Dorrance and Dyer streets, will replace Kennedy Plaza as RIPTA’s central transit center. The upgraded hub will accommodate “millions” of trips per year, according to the agency, and feature a temperature-controlled arrival and seating area for passengers, staff break areas and accommodations for cyclists, amid other amenities.

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The bus hub, which will cost an estimated $77 million to construct, belongs to a larger plan to create a mixed-use transit-oriented development in the area, including retail and residential space.

“In contrast to the current sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, which is spread out across an urban park, the Transit Center will provide a single central location,” RIPTA said in a statement announcing the new partnership.

Kennedy Plaza will continue to operate at a reduced capacity following the new hub’s completion.

A replacement or renovation to Kennedy Plaza has long been discussed in the state, with multiple proposals raising debate between transportation officials and transit advocates.

“With smart investments, Rhode Island’s transit system can expand and modernize to meet the needs of our workforce and climate goals,” Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA, said in the agency’s announcement.

“A new downtown transit center is a major step in strengthening our transit system and expanding opportunities through transit-oriented development,” he added.

RIPTA and Next Wave Partners will take a two-phase approach to the construction and design process, starting with a site assessment and acquisition, public engagement and a “processive design.” In the second phase, the partnership will work on financing and constructing the project.

The state opened its Request for Proposals period for the project in January and closed to new applications in April.

Funding for the bus hub will draw in part from a $35 million bond, which voters approved in 2014.

The agency will continue to determine additional funding sources as it prepares for an anticipated $40 million budget shortfall in 2025. Peter Alviti, director of the state’s Department of Transportation, recently took over the RIPTA board of directors as the agency attempts to overcome this deficit, to mixed reactions from transit advocates.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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