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Redevelopment board takes up hotel proposal today

Monday, December 29, 2003

WARWICK -- Developer Joseph Piscopio's proposal to build a six-story hotel at Jefferson Boulevard and Kilvert Street will go before the Station District Redevelopment Agency today for final approval.

Piscopio, doing business as Jefferson Hospitality LLC, plans a 163-room Hilton Garden Inn on the site of the former Rhode Island Malleable Iron Works. The site has already been cleared and a soil and ground-water cleanup has been done..

Besides the Hilton Garden Inn, Piscopio ultimately plans to build a second hotel and an apartment building at the intersection. The cost of the overall project, called Metro Center Plaza, is pegged at $55 million.

The board will hear from the developer, represented by Warwick lawyer Joseph McGair, and from its own consultant, Goody Clancy & Associates, an architectural and planning firm based in Boston.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the lower-level conference room of City Hall, 3275 Post Rd.

The Hilton Garden Inn, which would include two restaurants and a 200-seat conference center, is the largest project thus far to go before the five-year-old Redevelopment Agency.

(Under other circumstances, the state, by now, would have built the largest project in the district: an Amtrak station and a central parking garage for the car rental companies serving T.F. Green Airport. The future of that long-delayed project is still uncertain as Governor Carcieri considers whether his administration will support it.)

The Redevelopment Agency functions as the city's planning board for all projects within its 70-acre jurisdiction. An affirmative vote by the agency would allow Piscopio to obtain building permits and start construction, with a planned opening in November 2004. (His additional proposals for the property will come before the agency at a later date.)

Chairman Michael Grande has told the agency members he will abstain from the vote because his company leases space from McGair, Piscopio's lawyer. In his stead, vice chairman Robert Tingle will preside at today's meeting.

Tingle said Friday, "We're very happy to see our first major development proposal come before us, and to see a former brownfields site being cleaned up. We realize everybody would like to get this thing moving forward, but the important thing is to have all the questions of the agency members answered, and I want to make sure the Planning Department's questions are answered."

Tingle said the meeting may have to be continued to get through the review and consider granting final approval.

"It's going to at least be a long meeting, and if we have to have a special meeting in the following week or two, we're all for it," he said. "We definitely want to see some progress."

From The Providence Journal

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Brownfields Case Study




  • TEA 21 authorized $25 million for the development of an Amtrak/commuter rail station and automated people mover connection from the Northeast Corridor to T.F. Green Airport.
  • The Northeast Corridor is located approximately 1,500 feet west of the Airport. It is the closest intercity rail-to-air connection in the country.
  • Since 1995, the City of Warwick has proposed a redevelopment of the area between the railroad and the airport terminal. In January, 1999, the City adopted the Warwick Station Redevelopment District to oversee the redevelopment of 70 acres.
  • RIDOT initiated an Environmental Assessment (EA) in August, 1998 to identify the potential environmental impacts associated with the train station/people mover.

Purpose & Need

[*]The project has the following primary purposes:

[*]Transportation: To relieve peak hour traffic congestion both on the I-95 corridor and the adjacent roadways to the Airport, in addition to providing an alternate mode of travel for area residents to access jobs in Providence and Boston.

[*]Economic Development: To support and enhance the City

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There was actually a meeting with Warwick officials, the Governor, and other parties involved a couple weeks ago to try to kick start the project. The rental car agencies have backed out of the deal, in part because some of the money for the project would come from increased rental car surcharges at the airport.

The state is now looking at building a stand alone station that could be expanded to include rental car agencies and a people mover to the airport when the economy can support it. Without the people mover the station will rely on ground transport shuttles (similar to Logan) to get people from the station to the airport. This of course is silly because the distance from the proposed station to the airport is measured in yards. They are literally across the street from each other.

There is federal and state funding in place that should cover the cost of the station. Cost projections are currently 2 years old and based on the larger station plan. So a new cost-analysis is being done, and a redesign of the station.

If/when built, the plan is to run commuter rail to TF Green from Boston and south of the airport to Wickford. There is currently no agreement on how that would be run, most likely, RIDOT would pay the T to run trains. It would be prohibitively expensive for RIPTA to get into the rail business to operate trains to 3 stations in RI.

The residential component is rather banking on Boston commuter rail.

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Hope for off-track train station?

After years of delay for a station at T.F. Green Airport, Governor Carcieri and a developer say they haven't given up on the project.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

WARWICK -- When Congress, in the spring of 1998, allocated $25 million to bring rail service to T.F. Green Airport, state officials predicted a train station would open before the end of 1999.

Every year since then, they have had to push back the ribbon cutting a year or two. And now 2004 has dawned with not only no train station but no agreed-upon plan for building one.

A year after the change of administrations, the state is still questioning whether to build, what to build, and at what cost. The federal money is still in the bank while the state figures out what to do.

Should the train station be a single building or a small part of a larger development?

Should it have a people-mover connection to the air terminal?

Would it need a people mover on day one, or could that feature be added later?

Warwick officials say years of delay and uncertainty have drained credibility from the project, but just last week, the Carcieri administration was urging Rhode Islanders to stay tuned.

Jeff Neal, spokesman for the governor, said Friday, "Governor Carcieri recognizes the importance of the project. . . . Right now we are in the process of reevaluating the cost of the project as well as the financing. I expect that Governor Carcieri will be able to make a final decision on moving forward within 60 days."

Last week, a Warwick developer made headlines when he decided to take a chance on the Warwick Station District before the state decides whether to build its centerpiece, a train station.

Restaurant owner Joseph Piscopio won final approval Monday to build a 163-room Hilton Garden Inn on Jefferson Boulevard, across from the train station site. He plans a second hotel and an apartment building on adjacent parcels at an overall cost of $55 million.

While endorsing the Piscopio project, Mayor Scott Avedisian wondered aloud whether the state will ever build the train station that most private developers want to see before they spend their own money.

"How is it that Joe Piscopio can pull off $55 million in private development and Bulfinch has been unable to purchase even one parcel within the district?" Avedisian said. (Bulfinch, a Massachusetts developer, has been selected by the Station District Redevelopment Agency to acquire and develop the core of the 70-acre district.)

"One of the problems is that we have talked for so long about this project and there has been no visible movement on a train station, so quite honestly many of us have stopped talking about the project," Avedisian said.

Redevelopment Agency Chairman Michael Grande said the state agencies involved in planning a train station -- Airport Corporation, Economic Development Corporation, Department of Transportation -- have too often appeared "fragmented" in their efforts.

"I would like to go to a groundbreaking ceremony for the train station in the near future, because I've got a developer who is very anxious to know where the footprint is," Grande said. "When Bulfinch goes to a hotel operator or talks to a corporate headquarters, the first question is, 'Is there going to be a train station? When is it going to be built? Is there going to be a people mover? Where is it going to go?' And he can't answer those questions because there is no definitive plan in place."

Piscopio said the slow pace of the train-station project is puzzling. Does the state think people might not use the train?

Before deciding to break ground on his hotel, Piscopio went out and counted license plates.

He counted Rhode Island plates parked at the train station in South Attleboro and Massachusetts plates parked at T.F. Green Airport.

Thousands of Rhode Islanders use the train to get to Boston, he said, and thousands of Bostonians use their cars to get to Green.

"It's a no-brainer. I predict that a 4,500-car parking garage will be far too small," he said, referring to the garage the Almond administration had planned to integrate into a train station, to accommodate rail commuters and the rental car fleet serving the airport.

That version of the project was shepherded along by William Ankner, state transportation director under former Gov. Lincoln Almond, but it stalled at the change of administrations last year.

"Bill Ankner ran this project to perfection," Avedisian said. "He pushed this project as far as one human being could have. We're now stuck, where there's no one on the state level like him moving this project forward."

Under Almond, in 2002, the car-rental companies balked at the project's estimated $168-million cost. They would have had to tax their customers to repay most of the debt.

For the last several years, the state has raised planning and design capital by requiring the car-rental companies to charge out-of-town customers $3.75 a day as a "customer facility charge."

"We are looking at the possibility of moving forward without having to raise the customer facility charge, which is already one of the highest in the country," Neal said.

From The Providence Journal

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The Amtrak station at Balt/Wash International airport is right on the airport and served by shuttle buses that stop at the terminals. The station is very basic, but adequate. This may be a good model for TF greene. People arriving on trains do rent cars for local travel, I've done it at BWI.

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  • 7 months later...

Keep holding your breath...

Rail passenger service still eyed near airport

James Capaldi, head of the state Department of Transportation, hopes to see construction begin in Warwick in 2006.


Journal Staff Writer | Tuesday, August 3, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Despite complications, the state's plan to extend rail passenger service down the west side of Narragansett Bay is coming together, the state's top transportation official said yesterday.

James Capaldi, director of the Department of Transportation, said he hopes the project will bring rail service to Warwick, at the station planned near T.F. Green Airport, and to another new station planned for Wickford Junction, sometime in 2007.

He said he hopes to see service start with about eight trips per day to Warwick.

Among other goals, the plan is intended to create an "intermodal" transportation center in Warwick, with the railroad station and a parking garage connected to the airport with a people mover. It would accommodate travelers arriving and departing in cars, trains, airplanes and buses.

Governor Carcieri said the project will cost about $265 million, with the money coming from both the state and federal governments; the breakdown remains unclear.

In recent months, a series of developments moved the project forward or, if not causing actual setbacks, at least clarified what must be done, Capaldi said. He said he hopes to have a clear proposal to take to the governor next month.

Capaldi said he hopes to see construction start in Warwick during 2006, and in Wickford early the next year.

Capaldi said the state had assumed for years that the trains would stop on the existing two tracks, which together make up the main rail line from Boston to Providence, New York and Washington, D.C. But about six months ago, a new Amtrak president, David L. Gunn, decided that any new stations must have sidings for trains to stop on, to get them off the main tracks.

"That caught us by surprise," Capaldi said, and the DOT spent the next several months dealing with the new requirement. He said the sidings have to be 2 to 2 1/2 miles long, because Amtrak wants trains to be able to pull off onto them at 80 mph, to keep the main line as clear as possible.

But about a week and a half ago, he said, his agency and Amtrak agreed on a solution that will involve building only one siding in Warwick rather than two. Amtrak agreed on using an additional track already being built as part of the state's ongoing freight rail project to serve Quonset Point, he said.

He said that a key factor determining when service can begin is the 2 1/2-year lead time needed to obtain the switches for the junctions between the sidings and the main tracks.

The project will mean four tracks in Warwick: the two main tracks that Amtrak uses now, the freight line which will double as one siding, and a siding that must be built. Capaldi estimated the cost of the sidings at $50 million, and said it's unclear how the cost would be split between the state and federal governments. For comparison, $50 million is about half what the state expects to pay for a new Sakonnet River Bridge -- itself a major, though not the biggest, current state highway project.

Complicating the railroad situation is the continuing election-year deadlock between the House, Senate and President Bush over how much to budget for transportation. That leaves unclear how much Rhode Island and other states will get in federal transportation aid during the next six years. Congress will resume its session after Labor Day.

Capaldi said another change in plans will probably mean rail service south of Providence will initially be operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority alone rather than with Amtrak. The MBTA now operates the commuter rail service from Providence to Boston that Capaldi wants to extend south.

The MBTA service wouldn't extend south of Wickford, limiting the regional impact of the Warwick transportation center, Capaldi said. That would change when Amtrak begins using the stations, something Capaldi said Amtrak is committed to do.

However, he said, the majority of the market the stations will serve wants to travel north, toward Boston, the direction the MBTA serves.

Capaldi said, meanwhile, that the project passed another milestone Friday, when the General Assembly approved a series of bond issues that will be voted on in November. Some of that money will contribute to the rail project, he said.

From The Providence Journal

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  • 1 month later...

Better than wider roads

01:00 AM EDT on Monday, September 13, 2004

Extending commuter-rail service south of Providence would be a huge plus for the state. And now, after months of wavering, such a project may actually take place.

The cornerstone would be two train stations: one in Warwick, a few hundred yards from T.F. Green Airport, to be built next year; the other in Wickford, to be built in 2007.

The airport station (costing $265 million) would be "intermodal," featuring a four-deck parking garage and a "people mover," to help travelers make the connection among trains and cars and planes. Marrying rail and air travel would give a particular advantage to T.F. Green, one of the few airports with Amtrak nearby.

The new rail line's two stations would significantly reduce commuter traffic on highways into Providence -- sufficiently, we hope, to render moot the alarming notion of adding lanes to Route 95. Road expansion simply breeds traffic expansion -- as well as the expansion of asphalt over meadow.

When the Wickford station is completed, next would be an East Greenwich station, which used to have commuter service. And then on down the line to the Amtrak stations in West Kingston and Westerly.

And after that? Well, Narragansett Bay has a whole other side where traffic is congested and a good commuter rail, back in generally more civilized times, used to reach. In as compact a state as Rhode Island, all the residents should have access to commuter-rail service. Taking the train to work would prove more efficient and cleaner than driving, and decidedly less stressful.

Commuter-rail service in and out of Providence from several directions worked decades ago, and now the need for it is even greater. The big change in Rhode Island is not population growth but sprawl. The residents have spread out, making the once rural areas exurban and creating an enormous increase in driving. Amidst such pressure, the state should be doing its utmost to allow people to travel to work and school by train (or bus, for that matter).

Governor Carcieri's budget has money for the airport station, and Senator Chafee is working on legislation for federal funding for that station's $36 million people mover.

Amtrak has recently upped the ante by requiring sidings to be built for the commuter stations, to keep the main rail line free -- a good idea. Fortunately, Warwick already has a freight line next to the main line, so only one siding would have to be built (for $50 million).

Rail-budget figures are not for the faint of heart, but they look mighty cheap when compared over time with most road projects and social programs. (As an improver of quality of life, the commuter rail is a social program.)

In sum, making the commuter rail a reality for much of the Ocean State will require considerable federal participation, the exact extent of which should be clearer when the next Congress convenes, in January. At that time, Rhode Island's representatives should push the issue hard.

From The Providence Journal

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  • 5 months later...

Chafee seems to be in for quite a fight for his seat next year, and it seems that the Republican leadership is getting behind him (liberal as he may be). Hopefully that will help pry this money loose

Chafee hopes highway bill will pave way for airport 'people mover'

BY DANIEL BARBARISI Journal Staff Writer | February 21, 2005

WARWICK -- U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee hopes he can pry loose $20 million in federal highway funds to ensure the construction of a "people mover" to link T.F. Green Airport with a planned Amtrak station on Jefferson Boulevard.

The key is a six-year highway spending authorization, to replace one that expires in May, that has been before a conference committee since last year to reconcile competing proposals passed by the Senate, which sought more than $300 billion, and the House, which called for less than $300 billion.

Chafee discussed the train station project in a brief interview Friday afternoon at T.F. Green, where he and Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, arrived to attend a Chafee fundraiser in Providence that evening.

McConnell said the Republican Senate leadership is solidly behind Chafee's effort.

"You've got somebody sitting in exactly the right place to put the federal pieces in the puzzle. We're going to try to help you do that," McConnell said.

The total bill for the Amtrak complex -- a station and a 3,500-space rental-car parking garage -- and the people mover leading to Green's terminal is estimated at $169 million.

The cost of the station and garage would be financed with federal highway funds and state-issued revenue bonds. But the state Transportation Department has secured a federal pledge of only $35 million for the people mover, $20 million short of the estimated cost.

Chafee hopes to unlock unused federal highway funds Rhode Island receives every year to do repair work on bridges that are not part of the federal interstate highway system. Because Rhode Island has few of these bridges, roughly $5 million of its $10 million allotment goes unused every year and is returned to the federal coffers.

The Senate appropriation bill contains language that would allow using that money solely to complete the Amtrak station project.

Using the federal funds might remove a stumbling block to building the station. The rental car companies have objected to the state's previous scenarios for financing the train station, saying they relied too heavily on taxing airport customers who rent cars.

Using the federal funds would dramatically lessen the impact on the rental companies and their customers.

Governor Carcieri said in his recent State of the State address that he intends to break ground on a station sometime this year. Under a best-case scenario, it could be completed in 2007, according to Chafee's staff.

Plans are in the works to extend MBTA rail service through Warwick to Wickford and Kingston. There has been significant progress in that area, according to Chafee, who said it remains only to negotiate the annual fee the MBTA would pay Amtrak for the use of its rails.

"So far, so good," he said.

From The Providence Journal

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  • 5 months later...

Warwick is going to end up with a better station than Providence (better, not nicer, although it could be argued that the platforms will be nicer in Warwick).



Arguably, this is probably the way it should be, as the Warwick station has the potential to be a true intermodal hub, while the Providence Station is just a stop...

- Garris

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This is true.  Perhaps southern-serving RIPTA buses should congregate in Warwick and allow people to take the train to Providence.


Currently the 12 and 14 buses (Newport, Wickford, Narragansett, East Greenwich) have local service up Route 1 to the airport. RIPTA should look at stopping the 66 (URI-Kingston-Wakefield) at the airport and the Route 90 Park n Ride bus.

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  • 2 months later...

They should eventually build 4 commuter rail lines for Providence- The one they are talking about now can be called the Coast Line or sometihing like that. They should build Metro West, and East Bay from Providence, through East Bay and Fall River to Newport , and Newport/Jamestown - a line from Lafayette to Newport.

That would be ideal for this growing metro area. Almost like Boston's commuter lines. Also what are your thoughts on some kind of a rapid transit system in Providence???

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Also what are your thoughts on some kind of a rapid transit system in Providence???

South County Commuter Rail thread:


Our old discussion on here about Providence transit, I think Cotuit's fantasy transit map is in here:


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  • 3 weeks later...

At one time the MBTA was thinking of extending the commuter rail line down to Green. I assume they would use the existing Amtrak lines which run right between Jefferson Blvd. and Post Rd. You could then put a really short LRT to connect to the terminal from a station there. This was probably mentioned in the other threads, of course.

No, not other threads. It's in this thread. :D Go back to page one so you can catch up.

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No, not other threads. It's in this thread. :D Go back to page one so you can catch up.

I was talking more about a wider rail system. However even this thread doesn't answer some pertinent questions including how the schedule will be run and if additional lines need to be added. I'm not all that familiar with the area around Green but the line south would probably need more tracks. AFAIK there are only two tracks for several of the bridges etc. This isn't enough to support regular commuter rail service plus Acela plus regular scheduled Amtrak.

Also RIPTA will need to put more focus on moving people to the Providence train station as getting a transfer sucks. I tried once to take RIPTA to Kennedy plaza and then again to the train station so I could take commuter rail to Boston and the experience was bad enough that I just drive to South Attleboro instead. (not to mention that the T charges a lot extra to commute from Providence :( )

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I was talking more about a wider rail system. However even this thread doesn't answer some pertinent questions including how the schedule will be run and if additional lines need to be added. I'm not all that familiar with the area around Green but the line south would probably need more tracks. AFAIK there are only two tracks for several of the bridges etc. This isn't enough to support regular commuter rail service plus Acela plus regular scheduled Amtrak.

Also RIPTA will need to put more focus on moving people to the Providence train station as getting a transfer sucks. I tried once to take RIPTA to Kennedy plaza and then again to the train station so I could take commuter rail to Boston and the experience was bad enough that I just drive to South Attleboro instead. (not to mention that the T charges a lot extra to commute from Providence :( )

Presently there is a third set of tracks being being built to facilitate the Quonset Point industrial area. This will also be used for the extended commuter line to Wickford. A forth siding set might be built at each station

for layovers.

Except for the Attleboro station with 4 sets of tracks, the Prov-Bos line has only two sets of track that handle all the traffic without conflict.


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