Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Providence, R.I., next to ponder streetcar

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Officials and planners in Providence, R.I., will seek $50 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding for an urban circulator, with streetcar the leading option at present.

Rhode Island Public Transit Authority Planning Manager Amy Pettine sees the TRIGER funding as "a huge federal funding opportunity, but acknowledges that other federal support “is looking a little dim." RIPTA anticipates that federal funds would cover 50% of the estimated $100 million cost of the project.

In June 2010 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood offered support for the streetcar proposal, saying, "You're on your way to transforming your community and we're going to be partners in helping you do that.”Though no mode has yet been approved, Providence officials and others are leaning toward a streetcar operation roughly two miles long, linking the state capital’s East Side with upper South Providence, and including a stop at Providence Station on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, served by Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) trains.

RIPTA, created by the state General Assembly in 1964, began operations on July 1, 1966. Streetcar service in Providence, operated by United Electric Railways, ended in 1948.