Remarks As Prepared for Delivery; Actual Presentations May Differ
It’s great to be back in Rhode Island.
This is the latest in a series of trips I’ve made to the state in the year-and-a-half since I was confirmed as FTA Administrator. I keep returning because I’m excited to see the tremendous impact public transportation has on the quality of life in this region.
Last year, I joined Secretary LaHood in Providence to preview plans for the region’s public transportation projects.
I was also here last August to the ground-breaking of the Wickford Junction/North Kingston Station, extending commuter rail service by 20 miles into southern Rhode Island. FTA provided $18 million toward that project, including a boost from the Recovery Act.
I didn’t personally attend the opening of the InterLink inter-modal transit facility, but we do have a stake, since the U.S. Department of Transportation funded more than half the project, with over $166 million in direct investments and loans.
Today, I’m back again to celebrate the culmination of those earlier investments—an extension of the MBTA’s existing commuter rail service, which now brings you from Boston or Providence directly to the InterLink facility.
Taken together, these projects add up to an integrated passenger rail system that connects millions of residents with jobs and opportunities in two major New England cities. . . a system that offers travelers a seamless way to move from trains to buses to planes to automobiles. . . a system that takes more cars off the congested I-95 corridor and Rhode Island’s Route 4.
These carefully planned investments make southern New England more livable than ever, while generating hundreds and hundreds of good-paying construction industry jobs that are helping many families make it through the recession.
This is also a great example of two neighboring states working together to benefit millions of travelers and workers who cross their borders every day.
There’s no question, this is a big win for the region, and we’re very proud to be a part of it.
It’s also a clear reflection of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening passenger rail service and other forms of public transportation across the country, including New England.
Over the last 22 months, FTA has awarded Rhode Island more than $39 million dollars in Recovery Act funds to modernize transit facilities around the state. And earlier this year, FTA awarded over $700,000 to help the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority put more brand new clean-fuel buses on the streets of Providence, linking major employment centers and schools throughout the city.
And there’s still more to come. For instance, FTA recently approved funds for preliminary engineering toward construction of a new commuter rail station in Pawtucket, with a request for additional funding still under consideration.
I want to thank all the elected officials, business leaders, and transit advocates here today for helping to make all these projects such a success.
Working together, we’ll keep public transportation growing in Rhode Island, and keep New Englanders connected.