Rhode Island DOT, Amtrak Looking to Future with High-Speed Rail Project at Kingston Station
COVENTRY, RI The (RIDOT) and Amtrak are beginning work on a project in South County that will benefit train operations in the Northeast and long-term transit planning in Rhode Island.
The $41 million project involves construction of a third track at Kingston Station in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, as well as construction of two high-level platforms to allow full access to trains for passengers with disabilities. Layout of the third track will enable the regional Amtrak trains stopping at Kingston Station to come off the main line, while high-speed Amtrak Acela trains safely bypass them. This additional capacity would accommodate expanded commuter rail service to Kingston Station when the state expands commuter rail further into South County.
"Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state, but commuters here use transit at a rate well below the national average," RIDOT Director said. "The improvements are an immediate benefit for Amtrak and their movement throughout the Northeast Corridor, and they provide a double benefit of enabling an expansion of our commuter rail in the future."
Work will begin under a $17 million contract with that is being funded by a High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grant through RIDOT. The company will do the preliminary foundation work for 1.5 miles of new track, as well as install drainage, retaining walls and the pole foundations for the wires that run overhead. They will also raise the existing platforms at Kingston Station to make sure that they are level with the incoming trains to meet ADA requirements. The station improvements will be done in phases so service remains uninterrupted.
Once the preliminary work is complete, Amtrak will begin construction on the actual tracks and install the overhead wires. Final completion is scheduled for summer 2017.
The project is entirely funded by the federal government with $26.2 million dedicated through the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program for improvements at Kingston Station. Rhode Island was one of 15 states awarded a competitive grant in 2011, and was the only state to receive awards for two projects on the Northeast Corridor main line, the other being for the development of a long-range plan at the Providence Station. Amtrak will cover the remaining cost of the work at Kingston Station.
"This is a smart investment in improving the infrastructure at Kingston Station and the efficiency of high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor," said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who helped secure federal funds for the program in 2011 and who successfully worked with then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to direct unused rail funds from other states to Rhode Island. "This project will help allow the Acela to bypass slower moving regional trains serving Kingston, as well as commuter trains, should service be expanded here in the future. The result will be improved efficiency, capacity, and safety here at Kingston. Rhode Island is a key piece of the busy Northeast Corridor and I am pleased we were able to put these funds to work."