The once-thriving cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls have established several initiatives to reinvigorate their economies by closely integrating transportation, development and recreational elements. A critical step has included dedicated investment into public transportation, and specifically a new commuter rail station with intermodal connection to Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus service, enhancing mobility for residents and increasing access to regional jobs.
To help support these initiatives, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) engaged VHB in preparing the Preliminary Engineering and NEPA Documentation for a new commuter rail station. Efforts focused on transportation planning and alternatives analysis for railroad operations and opportunities for transit-oriented development (TOD); design for the station, access roadways, bridges, and track layout; financial analysis outlining cost estimates and potential funding sources; NEPA documentation; a TOD Master Plan; and a successful application for a USDOT TIGER grant. Following the TIGER grant award, VHB developed a Design-Build bidding package for procurement, which would allow RIDOT to innovatively deliver the Pawtucket/Central Falls Station Commuter Rail Station. The Design-Build contract was designed to work collaboratively with the cities’ parallel TOD initiatives, as well as that of RIPTA to construct an intermodal bus facility immediately adjacent to the commuter rail stop.
This project was the recipient of the WTS-Rhode Island 2019 Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year Award, and included extensive coordination with Amtrak, which owns and operates on the corridor through Rhode Island; the Providence & Worcester Railroad, which provides freight service through the project area; and the MBTA, which provides commuter rail service into Rhode Island and will service this station.
The new commuter rail station will improve local and regional mobility, connecting with Boston and T.F. Green Airport, and is anticipated to catalyze much needed economic investment in the surrounding area.