New $2.8 Million Grant Keeps Development of Amtrak Service to T.F. Green On Track
WASHINGTON, DC – The effort to bring an Amtrak rail stop to T.F. Green Airport took another step forward this week with the award of a new $2.8 million federal grant.
Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced the $2.8 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to fund further planning efforts between the state and Amtrak. The delegation notes that adding Amtrak service to T.F. Green Airport could position the state to attract new investment, create jobs, and enhance transportation options for Rhode Islanders, commuters, and visitors to the state.
Currently, T.F. Green Airport is connected to Providence and Boston via the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), a commuter rail line. Amtrak has just three stops in Rhode Island: Providence, Kingston, and Westerly.
Rhode Island transportation officials and business leaders have long asked what it would take to bring Amtrak to T.F. Green Airport. To help answer that question, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), included language in the fiscal year 2016 Transportation Appropriations bill requiring the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to coordinate a feasibility analysis with Amtrak and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to explore options for bringing more convenient train service to T.F. Green.
As a result of Reed’s efforts, the FRA’s 2017 feasibility study laid out several options and noted that bringing a regular Amtrak stop to the airport would require upgrades at T.F. Green Station in order to allow Amtrak’s regional trains to stop there and to accommodate freight, commuter, and high-speed trains that also operate along that route. This new CRISI grant will allow RIDOT, in partnership with Amtrak, to advance the initiative and support preliminary engineering and environmental review work on a new Amtrak stop at the existing T.F. Green commuter rail station.
The CRISI funding is being awarded several months after all four members of the delegation sent a letter to United States Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of RIDOT’s application. The lawmakers noted in their letter that the funding would expand transportation options for domestic and international visitors arriving at or departing from T.F. Green airport, as well as increase access, connectivity, and ridership along the Northeast Corridor. Additionally, the introduction of intercity Amtrak service would help accelerate commercial development of City Centre Warwick, a growing economic development encompassing the commuter rail station and airport.
The new CRISI grant will help RIDOT undertake a comprehensive review of track and signal improvements that would be required, along with operating costs needed to expand service to T.F. Green.
“Bringing Amtrak service directly to T.F. Green could help make the airport more accessible and better connect Rhode Islanders to opportunities and transportation choices. I will continue to support the state’s efforts at the federal level and work to ensure that any plan to move forward is undertaken in a smart, cost-effective manner that builds on the significant investments we have already made,” said Senator Reed, who led the effort to provide $255 million for the CRISI grant program in fiscal year 2019, as well as $1.94 billion for Amtrak, including $650 million in investments for the Northeast Corridor.
“Connecting T.F. Green Airport with the Amtrak system could open the door to significant growth for the airport and for Rhode Island’s economy,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Securing this federal grant is the first step towards providing a new convenient travel option for Rhode Islanders and visitors alike.”
“This federal funding will continue to lay the groundwork to bring direct Amtrak service to T.F. Green Airport,” said Congressman Langevin. “Adding airport service would provide more options for commuters and boost our local economy. I was pleased to help secure this important funding alongside my delegation colleagues.”
“Making T.F. Green Airport even more accessible to Rhode Islanders and travelers is critical to ensuring continued investment in Rhode Island,” Congressman Cicilline said. “With these federal funds, we are one step closer to the construction of a new Amtrak stop at T.F. Green that will make getting to the airport even easier for people throughout the state. I’m proud to help lead the effort in Washington to bring home valuable federal investments like this in Rhode Island, and I look forward to seeing the plans that RIDOT develops for this important project.”
“These investments in intercity passenger and freight rail will benefit surrounding communities, make grade crossings safer and improve service reliability,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“Bringing Amtrak to our airport and strengthening the link between multiple modes of transportation there will have a positive impact on Rhode Island’s economy and will be an important factor in further developing T. F. Green Airport’s great potential. RIDOT is looking forward to working with our partner Amtrak to make these improvements a reality,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
"Senator Reed and the entire federal delegation continue to be true advocates for infrastructure investments at and around the airport," said Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. "This investment will help drive our passenger census at T.F. Green, which in turn will help spur Rhode Island's economy."