Will Amtrak stop at Warwick, R.I.? Also, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Board approves a new financing agreement for Skyline; the price tag for Kansas City Streetcar’s riverfront extension has gone up 75%; and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) breaks ground on a new transit-oriented development project in DeKalb County, Ga.
A preliminary design and environmental study will be completed this year on bringing Amtrak service to the Warwick/T.F. Green Airport Station in Rhode Island, which is currently served by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, according to the Cranston Herald. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is conducting the study with Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Rhode Island Airport Corporation and the City of Warwick. A $2.8 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant and $700,000 from the state are funding the study, the Cranston Herald reported Nov. 29.
The Warwick Station was completed in 2012 as part of the Interlink Project connecting T.F. Green Airport with a rental car facility at the station, according to the newspaper. While it was built to allow for potential Amtrak service, the newspaper noted that a second platform would be needed as well as upgrades to the existing platform.
Amtrak currently stops at Providence, Kingston and Westerly, R.I., and Amtrak spokesperson Jen Flanagan said the Warwick station’s proximity to the airport would be a benefit, according to the Cranston Herald report.
The HART Board on Nov. 29 approved a proposed new financing agreement for the Skyline project “that may soon free up additional federal funding for rail construction,” according to a Honolulu Civil Beat report.
The newspaper said the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has “pledged to provide another $125 million to the city [of Honolulu] for rail after the [$1.55 billion] Full Funding Grant Agreement [FFGA] is approved by the Honolulu City Council and signed by Mayor Rick Blangiardi. The agreement has also been submitted to U.S. Congress for its review.”
That agreement “acknowledges and accepts the city’s plan to shorten the rail line to cut costs,” the Honolulu Civil Beat reported. The rail line was originally slated to run for 20 miles between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center, but the city last year shortened it to 18.9 miles, “defer[red] construction of two stations, and end[ed] the line near the intersection of Halekauwila and South Streets,” according to the newspaper.
The FTA in 2012 pledged $1.55 billion to the Skyline project, but due to cost overruns and construction delays, withheld $744 million since 2014, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
“City approval of the new [revised] FFGA is a key step in finally unlocking that [withheld] funding,” the paper said. “The $125 million would be the first installment of the $744 million, and the FTA has agreed to release more of that money as the rail project reaches specific milestones.”
The Honolulu City Council is expected to hold two public hearings on the revised FFGA, the paper said.
MARTA and the Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC) on Nov. 29 celebrated the groundbreaking of a Kensington Station transit-oriented development project. The 4.3-acre site south of the rail station will feature 259 units of affordable senior and workforce family housing; HADC’s new headquarters, as part of 15,000 square feet of newly constructed office space; community space and amenities; and access to MARTA rail and bus service.
According to the transit authority, two StationSoccer pitches opened near Kensington Station last summer and a MARTA Market and community garden are located there as well.
“As we celebrate this milestone, we remain focused on enhancing the lives of residents through affordable, sustainable development, with transit accessibility at its core,” MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood said. “We are grateful to DeKalb County and the Housing Authority of DeKalb County for their pivotal roles in this development and extend our appreciation to all stakeholders who share our vision for a more accessible and equitable region.”
“DeKalb County, like much of the metro Atlanta region, is facing an affordability crisis as the costs of housing and transportation have risen sharply in recent years,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said. “This successful partnership between DeKalb and MARTA continues to chip away at this issue by providing deeply affordable housing to senior and working families and giving them convenient access to employment opportunities in DeKalb and surrounding communities.”
MARTA and DeKalb County also reported recently completing the Kensington Station Master Plan for Transit-Oriented Development for the 35 acres surrounding the station.