RI Wins $13.1M Federal TIGER Grant for Pawtucket, Central Falls Rail Station

Jul 27, 2016 Issues: Rhode Island, Transportation

In an effort to improve the state’s transportation network and transform sections of Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation today announced a $13.1 million federal boost for building a new commuter rail station long-sought by Pawtucket and Central Falls.  The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will work with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to provide service at the station, which will provide riders with a more convenient alternative option while also offering a connection to Wickford Junction, T.F. Green Airport, Providence, as well as other stops all the way up to Boston’s South Station.

RIDOT is being awarded a $13.1 million federal grant for the project through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The TIGER grant program is designed to spur tough-to-finance projects that have a significant impact on a region or metropolitan area. With this award, Rhode Island has now received over $88 million in TIGER funds to upgrade highways, ports, and public transit.

“This is great news for the state and a significant breakthrough for creating new transportation and economic development opportunities for Pawtucket and Central Falls,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), who led efforts to include $500 million for TIGER grants to support significant transportation projects in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill adopted last December. “I commend Mayor Grebien, Mayor Diossa, Governor Raimondo, and her team at RIDOT for putting together a competitive application to improve transportation choices, advance smart growth, and transform the area. The state must now work to develop a coherent service plan that will support the new station and promote commuter rail ridership throughout the state. I will continue working to secure federal investments to enhance our transportation network.”

“Improving our public transit will make Rhode Island a more attractive place to live and work,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “This federal funding will bring the commuter rail back to Pawtucket and Central Falls so more Rhode Islanders can conveniently catch a train to Boston, Providence, or T.F. Green.”

“A strong system of accessible public transportation is essential for people with disabilities, for seniors, and for all Rhode Islanders who rely on these systems to access employment, education, health care, and other critical services. By expanding the commuter rail into the northern part of our state, Rhode Islanders can more easily access and enjoy the communities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, and the expansion will likewise bring economic benefits to all of the cities and towns serviced by the MBTA,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “What’s more, these improvements will make it easier for our neighbors in Boston and across the region to travel to our state for work and leisure, opening up new opportunities for tourism and broader economic growth.”

“This is great news for Rhode Island,” said Congressman Cicilline, who advocated for this federal funding. “The Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station offers an incredible opportunity to bolster the long-term economic fortunes of these two vital cities and position Rhode Island as a central hub in New England. I am also proud of the collaboration between federal, state and local officials that was required to secure this critical funding. It is another important example of government working to strengthen Rhode Island’s economy and improve the lives of our state’s citizens.”

The new commuter rail facility is scheduled to be built between Dexter and Conant Streets at an estimated cost of $40 million. The two cities will provide a local match of $3 million, with the state contributing additional funds, along with a projected allocation of $18.9 million in federal funding that will be directed to the state in annual appropriations.

“The backbone of a great economy is a diverse and comprehensive transportation system, which includes a robust transit system,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. “We are grateful for the efforts of our Congressional delegation to provide us funding to get this important project off the ground and provide improved rail service for Rhode Island.”

Pawtucket and Central Falls have been seeking to restore passenger rail service to the area since commuter rail service stopped there in 1981. In 2005, the City of Pawtucket began discussions with RIDOT about adding a Pawtucket stop and, with the help of a federal grant, commissioned a $344,000 feasibility study. In 2008, Reed secured a $1.9 million earmark that RIDOT has used to further refine the location and plans for a new station.

“The Pawtucket Central Falls Commuter Rail Station is a truly unique opportunity that will link a dense urban population to job centers, educational opportunities, retail and recreational assets. It will attract those from outside the area to its historic mills and investment opportunities for mixed use transit-oriented development that offers a lifestyle and business climate that are in high demand. The Pawtucket and Central Falls teams have been aggressive and focused on this long overdue project, which will be a game changer that will revitalize our communities.  I am honored to be the Mayor of this great city and I am excited about the opportunities this project will bring to our community and State as more and more people Join the Evolution here in Pawtucket,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien.

“On behalf of the people of Central Falls, I want to thank our congressional delegation for their continued support of this project and for their assistance in securing the funds to make it a reality. Today we are one step closer to bringing unprecedented economic development and employment opportunities to this area,” said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa.

“As we work to improve our roads and bridges in Rhode Island, we are also focused on expanding and strengthening our transit system,” Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. “This new station will not only be an asset to the residents of Pawtucket and Central Falls, but will serve as a catalyst for economic development around the station.”

RIDOT has already undertaken a preliminary design for the station with platforms, ramps and shelter for waiting riders. Now that the state has won a $13.1 million TIGER grant, the next phase of planning and acquisition is slated to commence this winter.

The pursuit of TIGER grants is very competitive. For fiscal year 2016, USDOT received 585 applications for the TIGER grant program requesting $9.3 billion in funding. All four members of Rhode Island’s delegation submitted a letter in support of RIDOT’s application for TIGER funding.