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Future of rail service in RI explored

March 13, 2011

PEACEDALE—The Friends of Kingstown Station held their annual meeting at the Peacedale Library on Monday night, giving an update on the possibility of rail service coming to Wickford Junction.
Speaker Steve Devine, Chief of Intermodal Planning of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), presented a program update called “Beyond Wickford Junction,” which focused on the progress of a train station coming to Wickford.
“We're not building any more highways,” Devine said. “As the congestion worsens in the state, our big macro-goal is to find other ways of transportation.”
The 90-minute meeting was attended by 25 people who had a chance to voice their concerns or address questions to Devine.
“One of the main goals is to get people out of their cars and into trains,” Devine said. “When I travel down this way, you can see the congestion increasing every year.”
Phase II of the Rhode Island Commuter Rail Extension Project includes a feasibility study which examines the station site assessment and railroad operational issues, proposes new station stops in Pawtucket, Cranston and East Greenwich, with a Kingstown and Westerly extension being investigated; and the possibility of ConnDOT Shoreline East trains “filling in the gap” in southern Rhode Island.
The top priority of the commuter rail program is to complete construction of the Wickford Junction station and to have it operational by later this year or early 2012.
“If you want to keep moving forward with a good sound transportation policy, sometimes you've got to bite the bullet, and I think we've done that for a good reason,” Devine said. “We're not building any more highways, we're not adding lanes to highways, so this is it, this is the future.”
The proposed Wickford station will include an 800-foot platform, a 1,100-space onsite parking lot, a RIPTA bus drop-off and a skywalk connection to adjacent transit-oriented development. Devine anticipates 20 to 24 trains running per day.
“This is going to be a gorgeous building,” Devine said. “We think it's worth the investment.”
The next process is to complete the SCCR Phase II study and operational analysis for future stations.
“We have come a long way since those days in the early to mid-90's at Kingstown and the whole rail program has just exploded,” Devine said.

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