10/26/2015 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to provide new retail, food, and fuel services for both local residents and travelers, as well as a multimodal transit hub, Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation was joined by Governor Gina M. Raimondo today in announcing a $9 million federal grant to build a new, state-of-the-art travel plaza and welcome center at Exit 1 off Interstate 95.  The U.S. Department of Transportation approved the state’s application for a competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, which means the federal government will cover about 75 percent of the $12 million transportation project, should the state and local officials decide to move forward with its proposal.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is proposing to build the new facility on a 20-acre site at I-95 Exit 1 in Hopkinton, near the border with Connecticut.  The project includes:

•           A 6,000 square foot Welcome Center, providing rest rooms, food options, convenience shops, bike amenities, and tourism information for Rhode Island destinations and beyond

•           A park and ride facility for up to 200 vehicles, serving RIPTA and intercity bus operators as well as tourists and carpoolers

•           A RIPTA bus hub with shelter

•           An intercity bus hub serving regional destinations

•           Up to 10 fueling stations, including alternative fuels and electric vehicle stations

“This is an opportunity to build a first-class travel plaza that offers visitors and local residents new, convenient retail, food, fuel and travel options.  We want to ensure it’s a state-of-the-art facility with modern amenities that helps travelers stay connected while also showcasing all the state has to offer.  There is a lot of competition for these federal grants and I commend Governor Raimondo for making the case for the state’s application and Secretary Foxx for investing these federal dollars in Rhode Island.  With federal funding now in hand, the state must build consensus for a cost-effective plan to secure the remainder of funds needed to build and operate this new facility,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I will continue doing everything I can to help meet Rhode Island’s transportation priorities and ensure TIGER grant funding remains available.”

“Improving access to public transportation in South County and adding a fueling station for electric vehicles are important steps toward reducing both congestion and pollution – important goals for our Ocean State,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I congratulate RIDOT and Governor Raimondo on receiving this federal funding, and I look forward to seeing this project move forward.”

“A robust and reliable system of public transportation connects people with employment, education, health care and crucial community and social resources. The improvements made possible with this TIGER grant will open up opportunities for Rhode Islanders and better connect Hopkinton to RIPTA's network,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “I was proud to support this project and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on South County and the entire state once completed.”

“Investing in local infrastructure projects like this is one of the most effective strategies we have to create good-paying jobs for Rhode Island families.  I am proud that we have secured $9 million in TIGER grant funding to support the construction of a new travel plaza for I-95,” said U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline, who signed a letter of support for RIDOT’s application. “Once it’s completed, this state-of-the-art facility will significantly improve the safety of I-95 and welcome new visitors to our state.  I am looking forward to supporting this project as it moves ahead.”

“We are working hard to build a statewide brand that showcases Rhode Island to the rest of the country as a great place to live, grow a business, and visit as a tourist or business traveler,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “This travel plaza will be located at the gateway to our state, and will serve as an important feature in our tourism efforts.  I’m thrilled that we now have funding to make this project a reality, and applaud our Congressional Delegation for their tireless efforts to secure federal grants.  I look forward to having this world-class facility in place so that every visitor can have a warm welcome to our Rhode Island, find new ways to stay connected and travel around the state, and learn more about all that we have to offer.”

In 2011, the state closed an outdated welcome center on the northbound side of I-95 in between Exits 2 and 3, that because of its location, was not able to offer the full slate of amenities that the new travel plaza may provide.  As a result, the proposed center will fill a 100-mile gap in travel plazas along I-95 and could help improve road safety by cutting down on so-called “drowsy driving.”  There were 29 drowsy driving crashes on I-95 in the vicinity of Hopkinton and Richmond in the past 7 years, according to the state’s application. 

RIDOT has also indicated that, under a separate project, it plans to re-open the old welcome center between Exits 2 and 3 and re-purpose it into an active truck stop to solely serve trucks, with new amenities for truck drivers that could accommodate approximately 35 trucks.

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