Monday, September 26, 2011

Providence, R.I., ponders streetcar starter line

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Providence, R.I., city planners and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority have proposed a two-mile, $126-million “starter” streetcar line for the state capital.

RIPTA and city staff members presented the plan last week to an advisory group. RIPTA planner Amy Pettine said the proposal, called the Core Connector Study, will probably go before the RIPTA board in November.

The starter line would link the city's hospital complex, College Hill, and Kennedy Plaza, as well as the “Knowledge District” that officials are trying to create south of Johnson & Wales University. But it would not connect with the city’s rail station on the Northeast Corridor, served by Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) trains. RIPTA’s Pettine said including both College Hill and the train station just wouldn't work.

Thomas Deller, chairman of the RIPTA board and city planning director, said that transit is "one of the most important infrastrutures we fail to think about."

Capital costs are estimated at roughly $100 million, with operating costs estimated at about $6.5 million per year. State and city officials hope to secure federal funding assistance for construction.

Electric streetcar service in Providence ended in 1948.