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Transportation

One of the most crucial components of a healthy economy and quality of place is a sound transportation system: one that supports diverse modes of travel and seamlessly connects Rhode Island to the rest of the world – and Rhode Islanders, more meaningfully to each other and to economic opportunity. Our state’s residents clearly want to enjoy the benefits of transportation choice, whether it’s saving money on gas and parking, getting into shape by walking or biking more, or having a less stressful commute. The average American family spends more than 50% of their household budget on housing and transportation costs combined.

February 11, 2016

Governor signs RhodeWorks bill

Following eight months of debate, Governor Raimondo signed into law the bridge repair plan known as RhodeWorks that will include heavy truck tolling.

Raimondo signs rhodeworks bill

February 9, 2016

Business, civic leaders unite behind RhodeWorks proposal

scott-rhodeworks3

Grow Smart RI’s Scott Wolf joined with Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello, Senate President Paiva-Weed and representatives of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, AAA, organized labor and several other business and civic leaders to rally support for the Governor’s RhodeWorks proposal to fix our failing roads and bridges.

Read more from Projo.com.

February 1, 2016

op-ed 2.1.2016 picGrow Smart RI / Providence Chamber on the importance of investing in a transit system that really works for Rhode Island

To have a successful mass transit system you have to correctly answer a simple question: Does it get people where they need to go, when they need to get there, conveniently, safely and affordably? Right now, Rhode Islanders’ answer to that question is largely “No.” Many people still cannot easily rely on mass transit to get to work, go to school, visit their doctor, go shopping or just see a friend when they’re ready to go. This results in Rhode Island not taking advantage of the economic benefits that an inviting and user-friendly mass transit system offers… [More]

January 2016

Revised RhodeWorks transportation investment bill advances with support from Speaker and Senate President

The controversial truck tolling proposal, designed to accelerate investment in the state’s
crumbling bridges (rated worst in the nation), re-emerged this month with some changes, based in large part on an increase in the annual federal investment in Rhode Island’s roads, bridges and transit. Despite opposition from the trucking industry and some taxpayer groups, Grow Smart RI has been a strong proponent of the plan to strengthen Rhode Island’s transportation “system” recognizing both the dire safety and economic consequences of doing nothing.

December 1, 2015

Nearly 200 attended statewide transit forum NEXT STOP: Making Transit Work for RI 

governor speaking2cropped

 

Governor Raimondo, Spreaker Mattiello, Senate President Paive-Weed and members of the legislature joined with business and civic leaders, transit riders and advocates to hear lessons learned from cities that have leveraged transit as a tool for economioc and community development.  A panel of local leaders then reflected on the challenges and opportunities for making Rhode Island’s mass transit system really work for our state and its people and businesses.  See the archive page for video, powerpoint presentations, news articles and a twitter-feed about the event and its deliberations.

October 23, 2015

RIDOT 10-Year Plan Released

Today RIDOT released the much-anticipated Ten Year Plan –a body of recommendations for statewide transportation priorities. The Ten Year Plan makes recommendations for the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).

The TIP is the list of transportation projects that the state intends to implement. Development of the TIP is overseen by Rhode Island’s federally-mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) – the State Planning Council.

Here’s what we can expect from both documents:

The RIDOT Ten Year Plan

  • RIDOT’s Ten Year Plan makes recommendations for priority projects and budgets. The Plan provides scenarios both with and without Rhode Works, the proposed funding plan that introduces truck tolls, specifically to increase funds for bridge repairs.
  • The Ten Year Plan is asset management focused, and dedicates early funds to urgent bridge repairs in response to the severely compromised condition of the state’s bridges.
  • With the limited exception of bridges that include both bikes and cars, the Ten Year Plan addresses transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in three general line items –
    • $80M in yet-to-be-determined investments in mass transit.
    • $129.7M in yet-to-be-determined “transportation alternatives” that include bike, pedestrian, Safe Routes to School, recreational trails, and retrofit sidewalks to meet ADA requirements.
    • $5M is recommended for incentives to choose transportation alternatives such as transit passes, vanpools, bike opportunities, and employer incentives.

The TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan)

  • The current TIP for years 2013-2016, expires in September 2016.
  • The next TIP will serve years 2017-2025, with proposed annual reviews and updates.
  • It’s expected that on or about November 16, 2015, the State Division of Planing will release a Guide to Rhode Island’s TIP Development Process.
  • The invitation to submit applications for the next TIP will be released soon.
  • Applicants will be alerted as to which projects from the prior TIP have been resubmitted by RIDOT and which projects will need to be resubmitted by an applicant.
  • RIPTA will have a 10-year outline of its federal funding projections for existing and planned transit service and facilities.
  • As no bike projects are specifically detailed in RIDOT’s Ten Year Plan and therefore are not resubmitted by RIDOT, all bike projects from the previous TIP will have to be resubmitted by the applicants, even if they were identified as high priority.
  • Applicants will receive guidance in public workshops and from staff at the Statewide Planning Program.
  • Each applicant organization and/or community will RANK priorities for their municipal area, including RIDOT’s recommended projects, along with the new and resubmitted projects included in their application.
  • There will be a public process to review all projects submitted.
October 21, 2015

Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello has indicated that he’s “leaning toward” passage of some version of Governor Raimondo’s truck tolling plan to pay for an aggressive bridge and transaportation investment program known as RhodeWorks RI. He is meeting with the Governor on October 27th to discuss specifics. The General Assembly isn’t expected to convene on the matter until January.

September 22, 2015

There was discussion of a possible special fall session of the General Assembly to address the RhodeWorks proposal (Truck Tolls to finance bridge repair), however, there is no evidence that will occur.  It now seems more likely that the General Assembly will not return until January.

August 1, 2015

Large Truck Tolls | Failed | H-6321 / S-997 Sub A

Although the Senate passed Governor Raimondo’s proposal to impose tolls on large trucks, the House did not, with the Speaker pledging to reconvene in a special fall session after further due diligence is performed.  The Governor’s proposal aims to raise $1.1 billion in toll-financed revenue to accelerate bridge replacement, repair, reconstruction and maintenance.  Rhode Island currently ranks #1 in the nation for the worst bridge conditions, with 23% rated structurally deficient.  For nearly 10 years, Grow Smart has been a strong proponent for dramatically stepping up the state’s investment in transportation infrastructure, including mass transit.  We have followed and contributed to many studies about how best to sustain the state’s transportation network, including the 2008 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding and the 2011 Senate Study Commission on Sustainable Transportation Funding.  We believe strongly that the Governor’s proposal is fair, equitable and will enhance Rhode Island’s economic competitiveness with neighboring states and would also facilitate the state’s pursuit of up to $400 million in additional federal funding for mass transit.

Our testimony in support of H-6321

 

RIPTA Enabling Legislation re: Fare Policy | Passed | H-6108 / Budget Article 22 Sub A

Addressing an estimated RIPTA budget deficit of $5.6M for FY2016, this bill proposed changing the provision of law that mandates free and reduced bus fares for senior/disabled passengers that meet an established income means test.  It would have authorized RIPTA to charge a 1/2 fare ($1) to such passengers during peak travel periods.  Free fares for such passengers would have remained in place during off-peak travel periods.  Grow Smart reluctantly supported this proposal.  While we are sensitive to the financial hardship this would impose on those who can least afford it, we believe that the potential for service reductions would pose an even greater hardship.

Our testimony in support of H-6108

The fare provisions of H-6108 were incorporated into Budget Article 22 Sub A and extended in scope, authorizing RIPTA to eliminate free fares during non-peak travel for senior/disabled passengers meeting income means testing.  Grow Smart testified before the RIPTA Board on June 22, 2015 requesting that it avoid the elimination of free fares for such passengers during off-peak travel periods.

 

Increased RIPTA Funding | Passed | H-6108 / Budget Article 1 Sub A

The Raimondo Administration included an additional $2 million appropriation to strengthen mass transit and also extended a budget provision to absorb nearly $1.8M in RIPTA capital debt service, which helps to further close the projected deficit.