Updated March 23 at 12:28am

City set to re-apply for TIGER grant to fund streetcar project

The city this spring will once again apply for a federal transportation grant to fund a new streetcar system between Upper South Providence and College Hill, Providence officials said Friday.

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City set to re-apply for TIGER grant to fund streetcar project


(Updated, March 31, 11:17 a.m.)

PROVIDENCE – The city this spring will once again apply for a federal transportation grant to fund a new streetcar system between Upper South Providence and College Hill, Providence officials said Friday.

This year the U.S. Department of Transportation has been authorized to award $600 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants toward local transportation projects, which need to apply by April 28. In last year’s round of grants, Rhode Island won $10 million for the Apponaug Circulator project in Warwick.

Like last year, the city hopes to combine a federal grant with proceeds of Tax Increment Financing bonds and state funds to pay for the streetcar, which is estimated to cost $114.4 million. TIF bonds would be repaid through a portion of new tax revenue from development or improvement to property within a district along the streetcar route.

To improve the city’s prospects of winning the grant, Providence Director of Long Range Planning Bonnie Nickerson said planners intend to present a TIF ordinance, including a district map, to the City Council for a sense of support this spring. The ordinance would only go for approval if the city wins the TIGER grant, she said.

The TIF bonds would make up 47 percent of the project’s funding, the TIGER grant 34 percent and state funds the remainder.

In most respects, this year’s streetcar plan will be the same as last year’s Nickerson said, with an identical route terminating at one end on Thayer Street and passing through the East Side bus tunnel before crossing Kennedy Plaza to Washington Street and turning south through the Jewelry District to Rhode Island Hospital.

Two potential changes the city is considering are creating a spur to connect Kennedy Plaza with the Providence train station, and providing a dedicated streetcar lane through Kennedy Plaza, Nickerson said.

The city is not, however, considering any additional dedicated lanes on other parts of the route, such as on Washington Street or Empire Street, to free the streetcar from automobile traffic, Nickerson said. Carving out a dedicated lane for the streetcar, which would increase its speed, would require the elimination of current car travel or parking lanes.

“In other cities it works well in the [automobile] right of way, and we think it can function just fine here,” Nickerson said. “We don’t want the streetcar to be in conflict with parking or auto travel. It is meant to be an enhancement without changing auto travel.”

The updated streetcar route is 2.5 miles long with 12 stops and will take 15 minutes to complete one way. Frequency is estimated at 12 minutes during peak hours and between 15 and 20 minutes off-peak.

To see the latest city plans for a streetcar, CLICK HERE.


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Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this
Ken C

I hate to completely disagree with you, offthegrid, but BELIEVE!!!! The days of wasting money on suburban projects that provide little payback on investment are ending Besides, what's so wrong with making good on what the auto destroyed? I mean, these streets were NOT built for cars to begin with. If I'm not mistaken, the auto industry paid for the demolition of the Providence streetcar system and the Feds rewarded them with completely subsidized suburban sprawl right down to the crumbling highway system we have today. So yeah, I do think they can kick in some change for ONE 2.5 mile street car line. It doesn't come close to repairing the damage that was inflicted on the city, but (just like removing Interstate 195 out of the city center) it's a good downpayment. And at the end of the day, this is just a drop in the bucket compared to money spent on sprawl. I do believe there's still plenty to go around.

Monday, March 17, 2014 | Report this

There are plenty of buses. This is a stupendous waste of money.

Without the suburbs to finance them cities like Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls (still not paying a dime towards their school system) West Warwick etc wouldn't have a pot to excrete in.

There is plenty to go around when it's not coming from their pockets.

Monday, March 17, 2014 | Report this
Ken C

offthegrid, with all due respect, you may need to check your facts prior to making such forceful statements. Double check your numbers on who supplies the largest amount of tax dollars to the state general fund and where the majority of tax revenue to generated. I think you'll find the reading to be quite enlightening and agree with me when I correct your dubious prior comment to state that it's the suburbs that need to get their hands out of the cities pockets.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | Report this

Yeah I'd be glad to see a report stating that Providence, West Warwick, Pawtucket, Central Falls & Woonsocket contribute more tax revenue than they take, State and Federal since taxes are just that - taxes.

That would include revenue shifted to those school systems, the gas tax half of which goes to the buses, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, section 8 (property taxes are effectively paid by section 8 in the slum cities), prison costs - where do the inmates come from?, etc

Central Falls has taken $240 million from the State over 20 years and continues to pay ZERO despite the funding formula showing that they can afford $12 million a year. The funding formula doesn't take into account that CF only raised property taxes by 3% over 20 years - it only looks at what a community SHOULD be paying.

$115 million on a 2.5 mile piece of track? I'm sure you want the State to give the dead beat owner of the Industrial National building a $100 million in tax subsidies so he can build apartments too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | Report this
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