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Wickford Junction station

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WICKFORD JUNCTION
Wickford Junction platform 1.JPG
Platform at Wickford Junction in June 2012
Location 1011 Ten Rod Road
North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Coordinates 41°34′51″N 71°29′29″W / 41.5808°N 71.4914°W / 41.5808; -71.4914Coordinates: 41°34′51″N 71°29′29″W / 41.5808°N 71.4914°W / 41.5808; -71.4914
Owned by RIDOT
Line(s) Northeast Corridor
Platforms 1 side platform
Tracks 3 (two main and one platform siding)
Connections Bus transport RIPTA: 65X, 66
Construction
Parking 1100 spaces ($4.00 fee)
Bicycle facilities 20 spots (free)
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Fare zone 10
History
Opened 1844, April 23, 2012
Closed October 1, 1981 (former station)
Rebuilt 1871, 1887, c. 1890
Previous names Wickford (1844-1871)
Traffic
Passengers (Q1 2017) 292 daily boardings[1]
Services
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
Terminus Providence/Stoughton Line
Former services
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
toward New Haven
Beacon Hill
Closed 1981

Wickford Junction station is a commuter rail station located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, United States. It is the southern terminus of the MBTA Commuter Rail Providence/Stoughton Line and serves as a park and ride location for commuters to Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts. The station consists of a single high-level side platform on a stub-end siding next to the Northeast Corridor mainline.

The first station at the site opened in 1844. In 1870, a branch was opened from the station to Wickford Landing, where it connected with steamships to Newport, Rhode Island. The station was rebuilt in 1871, expanded in 1887, and rebuilt again around 1890 after a fire. Branch service ended in 1925, but the station remained open until 1981. A new station and parking garage opened on the same site on April 23, 2012 as part of the South County Commuter Rail project, which also included the new T. F. Green Airport station.

History[edit]

1871 station after 1887 addition

Former station[edit]

1890-built station in 1914

In 1844, seven years after the Rhode Island section of the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad opened, a small station was placed at Wickford.[2] The Newport & Wickford Railway & Steamship Line opened in 1870 as a branch from the mainline to Wickford Landing, where wealthy riders would board steamships to the resorts and summer homes of Newport, Rhode Island.[3] A new station named Wickford Junction was built in 1871 at a cost of $8,000; a $3,500 addition was added sixteen years later. The station burned and was replaced by a smaller structure around 1890.[2] Passenger service on the branch ended in 1925, though some mainline service continued to stop.[2]

The station building was torn down in 1969 as rail service declined, leaving just the stone foundation, which was later filled with gravel.[2] The pedestrian overpass was moved in 1971 to Route 128 station, where it remained until Route 128 station was rebuilt in 2000.[4][5] The station, by then just bare platforms, was served by a single New London-Providence round trip (cut to Westerly-Providence by Penn Central on November 22, 1971).[6] The commuter train was discontinued on June 3, 1977.[7] Amtrak's New Haven-Boston Beacon Hill began service on April 30, 1978, including a stop at Wickford Junction.[8][9] The Beacon Hill was discontinued on October 1, 1981.[10][11]:65

The Wickford Landing branch's right-of-way is still extant, are the remains of a turntable about 700 feet (200 m) north of Ten Rod Road.[2] The state is considering building a bikeway along the right-of-way to connect the Wickford town center with the Wickford Junction development and station.[12]

Modern station[edit]

The station under construction in January 2012

After Beacon Hill service ended in 1981, some residents proposed a new station and the restoration of service. Bob Coie, a local builder, had bought a strip of land along the tracks in 1959 and acquired a large parcel along their west side in 1982. In 1985, he convinced the town to upzone the land for commercial use with the intention of eventually building a "pre-planned business district" and commuter rail station there.[13] A state study of rail corridors was completed in 1994 and the Northeast Corridor was designated as the highest-priority line for commuter service to Providence.[14] An addendum in 1995, assuming a quick start to operations, projected that daily ridership from Wickford would be 2,869 in 2000 and 3,386 in 2020.[15]:4-25 An operations plan was released in 2001, and environmental assessment was completed in 2003.[15][16]

By November 2006, the station and associated track work was expected to cost $43.7 million, of which $24.99 million would be Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding.[17] The station received a total of $59 million in federal funds, including the $24.99 million from New Starts and $4.35 million in stimulus funds.[18][19] In late 2009, the State of Rhode Island spent $3.2 million to purchase 350,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of land for the station and parking garage, with hopes that it could be in service in 2011.[20]

Ground was broken for the new station on August 18, 2010.[21] Primary construction work on the station platform and garage was completed on time and under budget in December 2011, and a test train was run to the station in March 2012.[13][22] The station opened on April 23, 2012.[23][19] A major part of the modern station is the four-story parking garage, which was modeled after the nearby Lafayette Mill. The garage includes an indoor waiting room—rare in the MBTA system—and a small coffee/snack shop.[24] A 8-foot (2.4 m)-tall bronze sculpture celebrating the history of rail service at Wickford Junction was completed in October 2015.[25]

Ridership[edit]

Ridership at Wickford Junction has been far below projections, some of which had assumed that transit-oriented development would be constructed at the station.[26] Daily boardings were projected to reach 3,544 in 2025 according to the 1995 analysis.[15]:4-25 This was reduced to 1,669 by 2020 in the 2003 Environmental Assessment, but raised again to 3,386 by 2020 in a 2005 analysis.[16]:11[12]

Initial ridership in May 2012 was 130 inbound riders per day, of whom 80 percent rode to Providence and 20 percent to Boston.[27] Ridership increased to 150 riders per day by early June and to 175 daily by February 2014.[28][29]

Ridership averaged 292 daily boardings in the first quarter of 2017.[1] For the second half of 2017, the state offered free intrastate rides in an attempt to promote the under-utilized T.F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction stations. The six-month promotion was expected to cost about $102,000.[26] Ridership increased by 50% within the first month of the promotion.[30]

As of 2017 the station only has weekday service, but planners hope to add weekend service eventually.[30] Previous official discussions about adding weekend service to T. F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction took place in 2014.[31]

Bus operations and consolidation[edit]

Garage and drop-off lane / busway

Wickford Junction's drop-off lane also serves as a busway, which RIPTA bus route 66 URI / Galilee briefly served before it was rerouted to a park-and-ride closer to Route 2. In January 2013, RIDOT began planning to sell the park-and-ride property and reroute the 66 and the new 65X Wakefield Express to Wickford Junction on all trips; however, the plan was held up by concerns about eliminating free parking in the lot in favor of the paid garage.[32] In July 2015, the agency renewed plans to sell the park-and-ride lot for an estimated $1.9 million and reroute the buses, but similar concerns were voiced at a public meeting.[33][34] A judge blocked RIDOT's sale plan in July 2017 over concerns that the family of the original property owners (from whom it was taken by eminent domain in the 1930s) may have had the right to buy back the property.[35]

In August 2015, RIDOT announced that it would be taking over operations and maintenance at Wickford Junction from a private contractor. The savings from the change—estimated at $340,000 annually—were to be used to increase frequencies on the 65X route.[36][37] At the same time, RIDOT began a two-week, $372,500 project to allow bus operations to be shifted to the station, which involved constructing a bus depot next to the garage and a new access driveway from Route 102.[36]

Only several days of "preliminary work" were completed by August 31 when Coie's company, owner of the adjacent shopping plaza, filed a lawsuit against RIDOT. The suit alleged that the changes would reduce traffic to the shopping center and cause a safety issue. RIDOT answered the claim, saying that the 2009 land deal gave the agency exclusive rights to the transit facility land.[38] The state settled the lawsuit with the company in November 2015 by agreeing to pay $750,000 by July 2016.[39] Effective December 7, 2015, all 65X and 66 trips were rerouted to Wickford Junction, with the garage now open 24/7. The restrooms and waiting room had full hours beginning in January 2016.[40]

Rail operations[edit]

Siding and Stony interlocking construction in January 2012

The station opened on April 23, 2012 with ten trains in each direction on weekdays.[41] Two off-peak trains ran only as far as Providence, while the other eight—including five rush hour trains—ran to Boston. Travel time is approximately 35 minutes to Providence and 100 minutes to Boston.[41]

The station is located on an 0.7-mile (1.1 km) siding which connects to the southbound mainline track of the Northeast Corridor at Stony interlocking, north of the station. The siding allows Amtrak trains to pass while a commuter train is stopped at the station and laying over.[16]:1-9 Wickford Junction station is located at milepost 165.8 on the Northeast Corridor, 16 miles (26 km) from Providence and 63 miles (101 km) from Boston.[16]:1-1

The 2014 State Rail Plan recommended the implementation of shuttle service between Wickford Junction and Providence via T.F. Green Airport with half-hour headways. The service, which could be operated with multiple units rather than conventional locomotive-hauled commuter trains, was expected to increase ridership at Wickford to as much as 3,400 riders per day.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b White, Tim (May 23, 2017). "Free rides offered at Wickford Junction train station as usage lags forecast". WPRI. Retrieved May 25, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Cranston, Timothy G. (June 7, 2001). "The Wickford Junction Train Station" (PDF). North East Independent. North Kingstown Free Library. pp. 6–8. 
  3. ^ "History". Historic Wickford Village. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Humphrey, Thomas J. & Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 54. ISBN 978-0938315025. 
  5. ^ Haskel, Donald (September 1966). "NH 2059 New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad EMD FL9 at Kingston, Rhode Island". RailPictures.Net. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1971" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. p. 45. 
  7. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A General Chronology Of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company Its Predecessors And Successors And Its Historical Context: 1977" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. p. 18. 
  8. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A General Chronology Of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company Its Predecessors And Successors And Its Historical Context: 1978" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. p. 11. 
  9. ^ "National Train Timetables". National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak). April 30, 1978. p. 18 – via The Museum of Railway Timetables. 
  10. ^ Hebert, H. Josef (August 26, 1981). "New Amtrak Network Keeps Most of System Intact". Associated Press. 
  11. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A General Chronology Of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company Its Predecessors And Successors And Its Historical Context: 1980–1989" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. 
  12. ^ a b c "Rhode Island State Rail Plan 2014" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Administration. 2014. pp. 4.16, 6.5. 
  13. ^ a b Eno, Paul F. (June 2012). "Never give up on your dream!: Bob Cioe's dream, recently opened Wickford Junction, dates back to 1959" (PDF). The Rhode Island Builder Report: 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Rail Corridor Feasibility Study" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. November 1994. p. 187. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c Edwards and Kelcey, Inc (July 2001). "South County Commuter Rail Service Plan" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 16, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c d "South County Commuter Rail Environmental Assessment" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. February 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Annual Report on Funding Recommendations: Proposed Allocations of Funds for Fiscal Year 2008: New Starts, Small Starts, Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands" (PDF). Federal Transit Administration. 2007. p. A-181. 
  18. ^ "TIMELINE: Reed Secures $32.9 million for Wickford Junction Commuter Rail" (PDF). Office of Senator Jack Reed. 
  19. ^ a b "U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Attends Grand Opening of Wickford Junction Rail Station" (Press release). Federal Transit Administration. April 23, 2012. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (December 31, 2009). "RI moves forward with commuter rail service plans". Worcester Telegram and Gazette. Retrieved August 3, 2011. 
  21. ^ Associated Press (August 18, 2010). "RI to break ground on commuter rail station". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. 
  22. ^ Turner, Samantha (March 22, 2012). "All Aboard in April for Wickford Junction". North Kingstown Patch. AOL Inc. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  23. ^ Belcher, Jonathan (December 31, 2017). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district 1964-2017" (PDF). NETransit. 
  24. ^ "Wickford Junction Commuter Rail" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 28, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Local artist completes large bronze sculpture installed in Rhode Island". County 10. October 13, 2015. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b "You can ride Rhode Island's commuter rail for free starting Monday". Boston Globe. July 2, 2017. 
  27. ^ Davis, Katie (23 May 2012). "State waits for passengers to discover commuter rail". NBC 10 Providence. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  28. ^ Turner, Samantha (12 June 2012). "Wickford Junction Averaging 150 Riders Per Day". North Kingstown Patch. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  29. ^ Taricani, Jim (February 13, 2014). "I-Team: Ridership at Wickford train station slowly increasing". NBC 10. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  30. ^ a b Anderson, Patrick (July 26, 2017). "Free train rides boost ridership between Wickford Junction, Providence by 50 percent". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. 
  31. ^ Church, Chris (March 15, 2014). "Plans for weekend MBTA rail service in the works". The Independent. Retrieved February 25, 2018. 
  32. ^ Brassard, Peter (18 January 2013). "Wickford Junction Station and the Route 2/102 Park and Ride". Greater City Providence. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  33. ^ Nickerson, Jef (8 July 2015). "ProJo: DOT seeks permission to move RIPTA commuter lot in North Kingstown". Greater City Providence. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  34. ^ Grimaldi, Paul (7 July 2015). "DOT seeks permission to move RIPTA commuter lot in North Kingstown". Providence Journal. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  35. ^ Anderson, Patrick (July 26, 2017). "Judge blocks DOT plan to sell old commuter parking lot in N. Kingstown". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. 
  36. ^ a b Anderson, Patrick (25 August 2015). "R.I. transportation officials say taking over Wickford rail station 'no-brainer'". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. 
  37. ^ "Wickford Junction Transit Center Efficiency Initiative" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  38. ^ Naylor, Donita (October 24, 2015). "Suit puts Wickford Junction bus depot on hold". Providence Journal. Retrieved December 3, 2015. 
  39. ^ Anderson, Patrick (December 11, 2015). "R.I. to pay $750,000 to exit Wickford Junction train station maintenance deal". Providence Journal. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  40. ^ "RIDOT and RIPTA Providing More Transit Choices from Wickford Junction Transit Center" (Press release). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. December 2, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2015. 
  41. ^ a b "RIDOT announces start of commuter rail service at Wickford Junction Train Station" (Press release). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. April 5, 2012. Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]