Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 11-05-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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24 THE VALLEY NOVEMBER 8-14, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION PAWTUCKET – The new train station on the Pawtucket/Central Falls line might still be more than two years away from completion, but its status as a future certainty is already having a strong impact, with new residential developments going in and investors pouncing on properties in the neighborhood, say officials. Local and state leaders held an official groundbreaking for the new Pawtucket-Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and Bus Hub last Friday, Nov. 2, hailing a "game-changer" project many years in the making. Though a subsequent news release states that the station won't be up and running until 2022, city officials said everything they were told had it in operation by 2021. They were seeking clarification on that modified timeline as of press time. Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa spoke of the long hours they and others have put into planning the development of the train station and surrounding Conant Thread District. They thanked state and federal law- makers for helping to make the proj- ect a reality. Gov. Gina Raimondo joined with local officials, Rhode Island's Congressional delegation, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and Department of Transportation repre- sentatives and others to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new intermo- dal transit center, which she said will allow riders to switch modes easily between commuter rail and RIPTA's statewide bus network. When complete, the commuter rail stop will join three other sta- tions (Providence, T.F. Green and Wickford Junction) serviced by the MBTA, with numerous stops in Massachusetts en route to South Station in Boston. The rail-bus station will serve a built-in ridership lacking robust tran- sit choices, with many area residents having to drive to nearby commuter rail stations in Attleboro and South Attleboro, Mass., said Raimondo. Ridership studies show this station will attract an estimated 520 daily boardings. The commuter rail station will be located near the intersections of Pine Street and Goff Avenue in Pawtucket, and act as a catalyst for increased transit-oriented economic development given its proximity to the 150-acre Conant Thread District, said officials. It will include dedi- cated platforms for northbound and southbound service, connected by a pedestrian bridge overpass, elevators, ramps and stairs. "This is a fantastic day as we further strengthen our transporta- tion system and plant the seed for new development that will rise up around this transportation center," Raimondo said. "It's also a sign that Pawtucket and Central Falls are on the map and poised to be major play- ers in the economic revival of the Blackstone Valley and the entire state of Rhode Island." U.S. Sen. Jack Reed credited Grebien and Diossa for "their vision, tenacity and leadership in making this happen," saying the new station will bring opportunities for smart growth and development in both cit- ies. Reed is the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, which earmarked more than $1.9 million in 2008 for Pawtucket and RIDOT to undertake preliminary engineering and environ- mental studies to support the project and has since led efforts at the federal level to increase federal appropria- tions for grants. Other officials spoke of the oppor- tunity for transit and economic devel- opment growth. "The Pawtucket Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and Bus Hub will not only allow for easy transpor- tation in and out of the Blackstone Valley, but will also attract and retain new businesses and residents, revi- talize even more of our mills, and improve our streetscapes. This proj- ect will become a driving economic factor," said Grebien. The challenge, he said, will be to embrace the new economic vital- ity in the area while also keeping it affordable for residents. This is about the transformation of a 150-acre area that's been underutilized. "I couldn't be more excited to break ground on this important proj- ect for Central Falls/Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley," Diossa said. Coming train station changes the game for two cities By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com A rendering of the FUTURE COMMUTER RAIL STATION alongside existing tracks at the Pawtucket/Central Falls city line. 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