MBTA Board to Vote on Rail Extension to TF Green

The MBTA board is set to meet in a few minutes for a vote on a potentially big step forward for transit in Rhode Island. From the Boston Globe:

The MBTA board is set to vote today on a long-awaited contract to extend Boston’s commuter rail service to the T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island - which should make it easier for Massachusetts travelers to use the popular alternative to Logan International Airport.

The agreement calls for service to begin in 2011, expanding the line that now runs between South Station and Providence. Tentative schedules show some one-way trips of about an hour and 15 minutes from South Station to T.F. Green in Warwick. To make the fastest times, the T would have to skip certain intermediate stops on some runs.

Once at Green, passengers would take a 1,500-foot moving sidewalk - now under construction and set to open next year - to the airline ticket counters. Rhode Island officials say they believe no rail line comes closer to an airport in the United States.

But the rail extension will also go beyond the airport, adding a total of 20 miles of commuter service in Rhode Island, culminating in North Kingstown. Rhode Island officials are spending a total of $336 million to upgrade existing tracks owned by Amtrak and to build two new stations, along with parking garages, a rental car facility, and the moving sidewalk, with the goal of transforming the state’s commuting patterns. The state will also pay $3 million a year to Amtrak for use of the tracks.

“This allows our citizens to have another option for commuting to work, or possibly even farther,’’ said Charles St. Martin, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.


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