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Old 04-19-2019, 08:49 PM   #441
DBM
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Re: Providence developments

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Providence really has an amazing opportunity with the recent relocation of I-195. This should be for them what the Big Dig was for Boston... the removal of a hulking elevated highway and its associated mess of ramps to reunite two previously disconnected parts of the city. We're talking a dozen or more blocks here, countless acres of new cityscape. It's practically a blank slate.

Filling it in will knit the downtown back together, and bring massive opportunity to the forlorn Jewelry District. Areas that were the hinterlands before, cowering in the shadow of an elevated highway less than 10 years ago, are now prime real estate. As cool as it would be for the Hope Point tower to come to fruition, I don't think it's necessary. Just filling in the space with five story buildings would make Providence feel twice as big, opening up new areas and bringing foot traffic to previously isolated areas.

I look forward to seeing it all unfold. I think that keeping the scale of the development small will be key. Hopefully they can avoid the massive block-sized developments that we saw quickly fill in Bulfinch Triangle.
Your optimism is laudable and I hope it all comes to pass like you say. However, consider all the surface parking lots pockmarking the prime Downtown core. I count at least a dozen from a quick Google maps survey. Consider:

1.) These surface lots are dead prime Downtown core.
2.) Therefore they would command the highest rents if they were developed into office, retail, residential, hotel, what have you.
3.) Yet they still sit fallow.
4.) Therefore developers have concluded they still aren't worth the risk.
5.) Therefore why would developers bother with the vacant lots opened up by the I-195 realignment, in the Jewelry District, given how the rents those redeveloped parcels would command would be less than the parking lots in the prime Downtown core?

The only potentially hidden subtexts to this that I can foresee is that:

1.) All those surface parking lots in the prime Downtown core are somehow encumbered with terrible handicaps--subsurface toxic sediments, etc.--that make them far less appealing than it would appear superficially, and

2.) Providence development officials would have to--or perhaps already are?-- tip(ping) the scales in favor of giving development prioritization to those newly opened-up Jewelry District parcels--despite the fact that, again, compared to the prime Downtown surface parking lots--they couldn't command as much rent, therefore the buildings built on them wouldn't be as sleek/competitive, therefore they'd be worth less, therefore they'd pay less property taxes, therefore poor policy.

Neither 1.) nor 2.) sounds good to me....
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:57 PM   #442
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Re: Providence developments

A sobering reality check perhaps, but I do tend to towards optimism. Whether the city is able to capitalize on the opportunity remains to be seen, but the opportunity is there nonetheless.

My optimism extends from the progress already made in a relatively short time. Wexford, South St Landing, the new research building at JWU; Aloft and Chestnut Commons pending soon; all those proposals for parcel 28; the park, the pedestrian bridge. It feels like there's some momentum now that's been lacking for a while.

And while all those surface lots are damning, we are seeing some progress in the downtown core as well with Edge College Hill, Providence Station Commons, Homewood Suites, the Residence Inn over on Fountain St.

The architecture is mostly banal, and the scale modest. But it is this modesty of scale that leads me to think this can be sustainable. Smaller cheaper developments are easier to get off the ground, less of a risk, and feed into that momentum to encourage further investment. And for a beleaguered and underachieving city like Providence, a blank slate and new branding does feel like a shot of optimism.
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:29 PM   #443
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Re: Providence developments

If they fill the entire empty Iway land with good density and uses they effectively double the size of Providence's CBD.

I'm pretty optimistic. It'll take time, but staggering the development can be good.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:02 PM   #444
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Re: Providence developments

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Your optimism is laudable and I hope it all comes to pass like you say. However, consider all the surface parking lots pockmarking the prime Downtown core. I count at least a dozen from a quick Google maps survey. Consider:

1.) These surface lots are dead prime Downtown core.
2.) Therefore they would command the highest rents if they were developed into office, retail, residential, hotel, what have you.
3.) Yet they still sit fallow.
4.) Therefore developers have concluded they still aren't worth the risk.
5.) Therefore why would developers bother with the vacant lots opened up by the I-195 realignment, in the Jewelry District, given how the rents those redeveloped parcels would command would be less than the parking lots in the prime Downtown core?

The only potentially hidden subtexts to this that I can foresee is that:

1.) All those surface parking lots in the prime Downtown core are somehow encumbered with terrible handicaps--subsurface toxic sediments, etc.--that make them far less appealing than it would appear superficially, and

2.) Providence development officials would have to--or perhaps already are?-- tip(ping) the scales in favor of giving development prioritization to those newly opened-up Jewelry District parcels--despite the fact that, again, compared to the prime Downtown surface parking lots--they couldn't command as much rent, therefore the buildings built on them wouldn't be as sleek/competitive, therefore they'd be worth less, therefore they'd pay less property taxes, therefore poor policy.

Neither 1.) nor 2.) sounds good to me....
Theres actually a bunch of new proposals for the i95 lots though. Theyre low rises. Ill go find em, get em gathered up, and then post them in a bit. Im not sure what the hold up had been, but theres a bunch in the pipeline now. If I remember correctly they even named/created a new district, kind of like assembly, or it may be from what was there before 95 was built, I cant remember right now, but Ill go find them and post em soon.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:09 PM   #445
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Re: Providence developments

-Wait I had posted one of the 195 proposals already in post 437 above in the 3rd link.
http://www.archboston.org/community/...&postcount=437

That third render is one of the projects and the link has more. Theres more projects planned outside of these specific parcels too for the 195 area. These are proposals for the 195 corridor though that were posted above the performing arts building that you guys were distracted by. Ill still find more though as this is not everything either.

Heres the 195 proposals:
http://www.gcpvd.org/2019/03/27/i-19...march-27-2019/

...also if you click on (greater city providence) at the top it will go to the home page of the website with all of the Providence development projects/proposals. That 500 tower is also linked at the bottom of the link above.
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Old 04-28-2019, 06:35 PM   #446
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Re: Providence developments

DMG has good height but it is unfortunately very wide. The other proposals seem OK.

Google Earth just updated for Providence and you can begin to see some stuff filling in.

The Wexford Building is in as far as I know.
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Old 04-28-2019, 06:50 PM   #447
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Re: Providence developments

Heres some more for the 195 corridor.





https://pbn.com/2-additional-develop...-195-district/

And a massing model of what it will look like when filled in.

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Old 04-28-2019, 06:55 PM   #448
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Re: Providence developments

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There are three proposals for Parcel 28 depicted in that link, but you have to click through to see the other 2. Here are the links to all five:

DMG
Exeter
Waldorf
Pennrose
Post Road

Edit: Heh, you beat me to the punch, stick. Yep, those are the other two. Just to be clear though, those are all proposals for the same parcel. I haven't seen that massing model before though.
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Old 04-28-2019, 07:02 PM   #449
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Re: Providence developments

Thanks for posting all of those, Stick.

I'm impressed with how there's just as much density, apparently, for the proposals on the west side of I-95 trench as there is for the ones on the east side, even though the east side is obviously more favored for not being amputated from the downtown core by the I-95 trench.

That said, regarding those west side proposals--will the Federal Hill community to the north go ballistic (or is it already furious?) about them, given the perception that Federal Hill is a special, perhaps vulnerable, cultural district?

Or maybe they're buffered from Federal Hill in a way I can't perceive. It's tough to tell from this northern birds-eye-view vantage point (as impressive as it is, otherwise)...
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:13 AM   #450
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Re: Providence developments

78 Fountain st has steel up to the first floor now.


https://pbn.com/site-work-for-new-co...in-providence/
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:37 AM   #451
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Re: Providence developments

^That's actually one of my favorites in PVD right now. Lots of the new hotels and downtown projects are so boring and generic they make the blandest of Seaport boxes look inspiring.

Also kind of wild to look at just how much room for development there is adjacent to downtown Providence. It should be a prerequisite to show that massing model next to a current aerial at any meeting where people are complaining about "overdevelopment" and lack of space in Providence (and there are plenty).
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:14 PM   #452
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Re: Providence developments

Providence Advocacy Group Produces Plan for "Rapid Rail" between Providence and Davisville:

http://www.growsmartri.org/wp-conten...Rail-FINAL.pdf
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:46 PM   #453
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Re: Providence developments

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Providence Advocacy Group Produces Plan for "Rapid Rail" between Providence and Davisville:

http://www.growsmartri.org/wp-conten...Rail-FINAL.pdf
It's basically RER-on-the-T meets RIDOT Intrastate. Nothing controversial there. Instead of a separate report, this should basically be stapled onto the TransitMatters plan since they'd be bootstrapping off a T adoption of those operating practices to get the EMU's and cycling of equipment through Providence that would net them the ability to launch Pawtucket-Wickford/Kingston (a.k.a. the I-295 Fairmount Line) at high initial frequencies. And the T wants nothing to do with south-of-T. F. Green, so whatever gets RIDOT moving faster on the buildout is A-OK up here in Massholia.


Minor quibble/head-scratcher. . .

I don't know what the hell they're saying about MBTA RER being too expensive for them because it "would utilize large eight-car train sets requiring multiple conductors staffing trains to collect fares." Huh??? The very largest single T trainset is one eight-pack to Providence at the height of rush, so I don't know what pretzel logic came up with 8 as a baseline for the whole system over the whole service day. If anything, RER + EMU's makes set lengths shorter overall and more easily adjustable. Besides, if it's RIDOT intrastate they're running their own routes at their own train lengths anyway. And, duh, it's the FRA that mandates conductors because they have supervisory duties; the presence of onboard crew is a feature of the continental RR network. No one can will away conductors. You can try to automate the assistant conductor assignments to a minimum allowable for staffing efficiency, but if the trains get so popular they're stuffed to the gills or require extra cars...you're gonna need more crewmembers. That's not a bad thing if the ratios are in-line.


I also don't think they spent enough fact-gathering time on the blurbs about other corridors, but that's secondary. Other than maybe needing a better proofread for misconceptions like ^^train length^^ under RER, it's a good start for laying out the issues.
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Old 06-07-2019, 08:37 PM   #454
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Re: Providence developments

It seems like we have missed some key notes regarding the Fane Tower and overall development in Providence.

April 8 - The Design Panel votes to recommend a rejection of the Fane Tower
https://www.providencejournal.com/ne...ect-fane-tower


April 11 - Senate President is PISSED. Files bill to streamline redevelopment process on large state owned parcels.
https://www.providencejournal.com/ne...-redevelopment


June 4 - Bill passes in the state senate.
https://www.wpri.com/news/local-news...and/2051984920
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Old 06-08-2019, 09:45 PM   #455
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Re: Providence developments

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And the T wants nothing to do with south-of-T. F. Green
I'm confused--you're not saying the T wants to truncate service on the Providence CR line by dropping Wickford Junction as a stop and bring the new terminus up north to TF Green*? Sorry if I'm taking you too literally--surely you mean something else but that's how it reads (to me).

(*Or, the artist formerly known as TF Green now known as Rhode Island International Airport (at one point? except I haven't seen any major signage changes) except the abbreviation is PVD implying it should be called Providence Airport but why don't we just say screw it and rename it Vincent Cianci Airport to cash-in on the biggest branding opportunity still going in lil' ole RI & the Providence Plantations...)
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:16 AM   #456
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Re: Providence developments

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I'm confused--you're not saying the T wants to truncate service on the Providence CR line by dropping Wickford Junction as a stop and bring the new terminus up north to TF Green*? Sorry if I'm taking you too literally--surely you mean something else but that's how it reads (to me).

(*Or, the artist formerly known as TF Green now known as Rhode Island International Airport (at one point? except I haven't seen any major signage changes) except the abbreviation is PVD implying it should be called Providence Airport but why don't we just say screw it and rename it Vincent Cianci Airport to cash-in on the biggest branding opportunity still going in lil' ole RI & the Providence Plantations...)
Wickford is RIDOT's baby, and they envision it as a linchpin of their various intrastate service patterns once the whole shebang is built out. As it precedes the 'pure' intrastate service that never crosses the MA border, the only schedule you can hang on it right now are these infrequent Providence Line super-extendeds that are too long on-the-clock to run in any quantity. The station itself is also only half-complete and has limited capacity for service; both it and T.F. Green it will eventually get new northbound platforms added to transform them into quad-track stations with 2 side platforms and 2 center Amtrak expresses. There's more track work to do like raising the speed limits on the turnouts the T uses. And RIDOT is set to construct a mid-line layover yard and small maintenance shop at West Davisville to de-clog crowded and rapidly approaching-capacity Pawtucket layover, cut down on the cost-chewing non-revenue miles it currently takes to deadhead an out-of-service train to/from Wickford, and re-prioritize Pawtucket for the Providence Line.

The only reason the T is being dragged into serving these far-flung stops--which may also include rebuilt Kingston before too long--is that they are bound by the Pilgrim Agreement MA signed with RI for out-of-district commuter service. In that agreement (which has been amended a few times now) RI contributes a % ownership stake to the commuter rail fleet--all of it, northside and southside--that auto-scales to service levels, running miles, and duty cycles spent across the border. They also reimburse costs, square staff arrangements for RI-based Keolis staff, adopt all of the T's RR design and accessibility guidelines, coordinate capital spending, allow RIPTA buses to cross the border to South Attleboro, and square all revenue sharing. In return, the T is required to be RIDOT's mercenary operator for all intrastate commuter service, including the to-be services that never touch MA soil like Pawtucket-Westerly, Woonsocket-Wickford, or this Urban Rail service spanning Providence Metro from a few posts up. Those trains will fly under the T logo even though they're out-of-district, because RIDOT's subsidy has already auto-scaled to pay for the equipment.


So...the Pilgrim Agreement is a pretty sprawling and complicated document. But it's also very elastic to future needs because RIDOT doesn't have to beg for the T's mercy to initiate new service; their subsidy snaps up another rung. The T likewise makes pretty good money on the deal taking cash to do someone else's bidding guilt-free (and very often with fewer headaches than dealing with in-district constituencies), netting more buying power with each new fleet procurement because the RIDOT ownership shares keep increasing, and netting a bigger footprint for major initiatives like RER and electrics that would be driven top-down by Providence Line growth. It's also an agreement that MA taxpayers should be happy about, because it's making the agency beneficial revenue.

Overall, the T is very happy with this arrangement. And they'll make more money still when they're running the 'pure' intrastate service. But right now an incomplete Wickford is an awfully long schedule to pick up awfully few people. And it's a strain on limited South Station capacity because of how extremely far it has to go to time itself against terminal district congestion. It is a bona fide ops pain to take a standard Providence Line schedule out that far vs. maybe being able to reset the schedule to cram in another 1 or 2 max-revenue Providence turns. MassDOT had hoped by this point that RI would've been able to stimulate some/any non-embarrassing ridership there to show some results, and show that they could start accelerating their intrastate buildout a little faster. Because the faster it gets built out the sooner the 'pure' intrastate trains can pick up that stop and the T can start pulling back to "right-size" the standard Providence Line schedule at a maximally efficient length and time. Something that they'll have more pressure to do with the new Pawtucket stop being an add to all schedules (and close enough to the border to be a South Attleboro load relief conern), and something they'll definitely need to do for RER which isn't going to play so well with extreme-outlier schedules.

Wickford doesn't project useless over the long-term--it's too early, and the real payoff was always considered very long-term--, but there's no doubt it's underperformed initial expectations by a concerning margin. Nothing in the demographics has shown there's much of a latent Boston commuter audience here that would be taking the cheaper/slower commuter train vs. grabbing a Northeast Regional at Kingston. It's a lot of Providence Metro exploits and converging paths from RIPTA buses. So with the growth small and the ops messy the T is going to want its Providence Line schedule back, truncated at the optimal distance for packing it full of more slots.

Where T.F. Green comes into play is that Amtrak has shown interest in a platform on the middle two tracks for sending some NE Regionals there...something it would have bandwidth for doing since a ConnDOT Shore Line East extension to Mystic and Westerly would allow them to drop those two minor stops completely from the Regional schedule and roll up at Green. That, along with it being a decently-established regional airport with upside, makes a little dilemma about whether to dig in the regular Providence Line schedule at Providence or Green once the intrastate service has taken over Wickford. Also complicating that choice is that Cranston will be an infill between Providence and T.F. Green by this point, and the Olneyville infill that was rejected (uncertainty over 6-10 Connector construction) may be a high-priority re-add. Do those get added to a Providence Line schedule that's terminating @ Green, or are they only handled by the intrastate trains.

Clearly a lot to hash out there. What's fairly certain, though, is that Wickford itself projects too much a square-peg for too much of the foreseeable future on Boston commutes for all that extra running distance to be allowed to chew up the schedule margin. So somewhere in the future when the intrastate service has reached some mutually agreeable stability the Providence Line will need to pull some retreat somewhere closer to Providence.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:38 PM   #457
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Re: Providence developments

Thanks, F-Line, for your typically comprehensive and nuanced overview. I've probably done the 7:45 am from Wickford to South Station (arriving 9:40 am per the schedule) about a dozen times. It's always left on time--never with more than 25 or 30 passengers. I doubt the Wickford parking garage has ever been more than 50% full, ever.

So yes, so far, embarrassingly underutilized. Of course, who can blame the locals? 115 minutes to traverse 62 miles of track (as I measured it). In 2019, that's beyond woeful (although sadly equivalent to Worcester--South Station on the Worcester CR line).

Big picture though: in an ideal world, shorn of petty turf battles/jurisdictional spats and everything else, would a quad-state compact (NY, CT, RI, MA) between Amtrak, MBTA, and the Metro North operator, yield efficiencies? Or is Metro North so vastly dissimilar in terms of infrastructure/logistics (and institutional culture?) from the MBTA's Providence CR line as to make that ludicrous?

The fact is, there looks to be approx. 220 miles of AMTRAK line between South Station and Penn Station--of which 135 miles or so are shared/overlapped with MBTA and Metro North. Well over half!
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:33 AM   #458
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Re: Providence developments

Potential big news for the Fane tower. Maybe this will finally get this going!
Senate Passes I-195 Legislation Strips Providence of Authority Over Fane Tower and Other Lands
https://www.golocalprov.com/business...y-over-fane-to
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:02 PM   #459
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Re: Providence developments

I still dislike it. If it were maybe a block or two north it would be good but now its just Jersey Shore meets Le Corbusier.
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:25 PM   #460
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Re: Providence developments

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Big picture though: in an ideal world, shorn of petty turf battles/jurisdictional spats and everything else, would a quad-state compact (NY, CT, RI, MA) between Amtrak, MBTA, and the Metro North operator, yield efficiencies? Or is Metro North so vastly dissimilar in terms of infrastructure/logistics (and institutional culture?) from the MBTA's Providence CR line as to make that ludicrous?
Well, at one point it *was* all Penn Central running every intercity and commuter train on the Corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C. But the mega-bankruptcy?...yeah, didn't work out so well.

There is most definitely a hard line at the CT state line where further intermixing becomes impractical. Shore Line East gloms off Metro North's fare system, while RIDOT is all-Charlie for RIPTA buses and will be going AFC 2.0 lockstep with us. There's a similar divide with the Hartford Line vs. PVTA buses in Springfield. Until somebody comes up with an EZ-PASS equivalent for transit that can seamlessly unite the MTA back offices in New York and the MBTA back offices in Boston, this is going to be a difficult divide to heal. That's like AFC 3.0 territory...with the added difficulty that the MTA is many times worse than the T at getting anything half-coherent strung together between its modes.


Lesser but still significant problem is the equipment. Everything MNRR/ConnDOT orders is contingent on being able to fit into Grand Central. The T's bi-level coaches won't fit at all. For EMU's, the need to be able to change from 12.5 kV to 25 kV current at New Haven to operate on Shore Line East adds some complexity, while the need to run on 750V DC third rail to get into Grand Central or Penn Station adds lots of complexity. The M8's are hugely expensive, hugely overweight, and hugely intensive to maintain. No system that did not have those specific conditions of an AC-to-DC change and an AC voltage change would ever opt to buy that car. The T arguably would not be able to afford to pursue RER electrification if it were bound to buying that car with stuff it didn't need just on the chance that fleet overlaps would send some of theirs to New Haven.

As is, if the T wanted to buy New Jersey Transit's new MLV EMU they'd be able to get them cheaper and lighter weight than NJT by omitting the 12.5 kV voltage taps and omitting the 25 Hz frequency transformer core needed for running on the NY-D.C. portion of NEC. You could even run them to New London or Old Saybrook if you wanted to...just don't cross into New Haven where the 12.5 kV changeover is. Seeing as how there's a crapload of Amtrak schedules going that way already...not a big loss if "no New Haven = $$$$ to spend on more RER in Greater Boston where it matters".


And yes, there are some institutional problems...though nothing out of the ordinary. The MTA has flirted with merging LIRR and MNRR into one management entity for streamlining, but they're so different in ops and cultures it proved impractical (as well as the geography served being too divergent for commonality). Amtrak is the line maintainer from South Station to the junction with the Springfield Line in New Haven, and line owner from RI state line to the Springfield Line merge. Same landlord as today. Charter-wise, MNRR crews rule the roost from New Haven State Street station west. Shore Line East trains run to Bridgeport, but the Amtrak crews who are contracted to run SLE have to switch to MNRR crews in New Haven. The arrangement works well, so isn't as cumbersome as it seems on-paper. But when an agency's charter spells out things like that, it's extremely difficult to change it without the legislatures from 2 states getting involved. When the Penn Central bankruptcy court ruled that all operated commuter services had to go public or cease, it took less than 1 year (1973) for the T to re-charter itself into a bigger district with full control of southside commuter rail. It took 10 years (1983) for "Penn Central Metropolitan" to re-charter itself into Metro North...with extremely reluctant interim operator Conrail stuck running it in limbo while the politicians deadlocked.


The way it's always been envisioned, ConnDOT badly wants SLE extended to Mystic and Westerly. Westerly Station is exactly 3 blocks over the state line from Pawcatuck village by foot, and 400 ft. over the state line by rail. Pawcatuck is the most densely-settled part of Stonington, CT...and Westerly is the de facto Stonington stop. There is also a former freight yard and current Amtrak maintenance yard adjacent to the station that would make an ideal SLE layover yard, since they have none in New London and the options by state pier over there are ham-fisted. So it's very much an in-district constituency for them, and has all the operational benefits. They will likely pursue a Westerly extension for SLE with or without a reciprocal RIDOT extension from Kingston.

RIDOT's whole overriding philosophy on the various moving parts of its intrastate dreams is that if you draw a backwards "C" shape by rail from Woonsocket to Pawtucket, Providence, Kingston, and Westerly...four-fifths of the state's population is within 10 minutes of a potential rail station. So while the working group several posts up is making icky-poo faces at Westerly for being an outlier, RIDOT sees it as a core duty to serve the whole state. Both opinions have merit, but the working group needs to stop listening to the sound of its own voice and realize: RIDOT's ultimate opinion is the one that's going to matter. I think you could certainly accommodate Providence-Westerly on a sparser headway and use service layering to densify the I-295 belt. It's pretty much how the T is netting :15 Urban Rail headways on some lines through the interlining of two :30 schedules. No reason why some combo of that can't treat Westerly. Plus the layover yard can be shared by both states regardless of whether they're using unlike fleets; it saves money to have 2 tenants.

The local-to-local transfers at Westerly are no doubt an asset. But because of the different ticketing systems and difficulties therein, it's probably a *little* overrated as a perk. ConnDOT probably cares about the Westerly transfer a bit less than RIDOT does, because as-above Westerly is the Stonington stop by any other name and they meet all their service goals just tapping their own citizens' walkup at the station. There have been various informal proposals to either take SLE north to Kingston or the RI Purple Line south to New London; both of those (moreso SLE-Kingston) start getting rather absurd on distance and constituencies multiple times removed from the train's core service area. So it's a little murky. At the end of the day it's very cut-and-dried to see SLE enthusiastically setting up shop there, and probably an eventuality that RIDOT someday meanders over there. Someday just may be down in the queue over getting more of their intermediate stops built out.
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