Chafee pours cold water on Providence streetcar proposal

Apponaug_TIGER_rendering_June2013Gov. Lincoln Chafee loves infrastructure – but he’s not ready to support Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’s ambitious request for $39 million in federal money to build a streetcar line in the city.

“The streetcar project is a promising concept but not ready to go,” Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger told on Tuesday.

Taveras has asked for $39 million from the federal government to fund a $114-million streetcar system in the capital. The grant would come from the competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which has $474 million to hand out nationwide this year – meaning Providence is seeking about 8% of the national pot.

Chafee, however, wants a different Rhode Island proposal to win TIGER money this year: the state’s request for $10 million to build new bypass roads around the Apponaug Business District in Warwick, where Chafee was mayor from 1993 to 1999. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian is also chairman of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, which is supposed to manage Providence’s proposed streetcar system.

Hunsinger suggested more work needs to be done before seeking money for the streetcar. “The governor supported the Apponaug project because it was ready to go (shovel-ready), had funding and was consistent with the criteria for the grant,” she said in an email. “The state also received clear signals from the feds that the state should be clear about what its priorities are and the Apponaug project is one of the governor’s priorities.”

The Warwick proposal also has its own website, (where Chafee’s name is misspelled).

The competing proposal to benefit Rhode Island’s second-largest city helps explain why Taveras’s TIGER application doesn’t include a letter of support from Chafee or R.I. Department of Transportation chief Michael Lewis, though it does have one from RIPTA’s new CEO, Ray Studley.

The two proposals could complicate efforts by the state’s congressional delegation to lobby the Obama administration for TIGER money for Rhode Island, not least because Providence is Congressman David Cicilline’s home base while Warwick is Congressman Jim Langevin’s. And, of course, Chafee and Taveras may find themselves competing in next year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The Providence proposal also suggests using $15 million from the Rhode Island Capital Plan Fund (RICAP) to pay for the streetcar, an amount that would need to be appropriated by the General Assembly. House Speaker Gordon Fox wrote a letter in support of Taveras’s application.

• Related: Digging in on Mayor Taveras’s proposed Providence streetcar (June 11)

26 thoughts on “Chafee pours cold water on Providence streetcar proposal

  1. If this included gays, athiests and illegal aliens to participate, Chafee would have signed this bill yesterday!

  2. Could be worse. Chaffee could be a narrow minded, catholic who only supports objects for rich white straight men. But then again that would appease the hicks that somehow can read just enough the elect idiots like McCay, thankfully he was smart enough to leave.

    Point is this street car is a great idea, just after the bypass roads.

    • Chafee is narrow minded–for he only FAVORS certain groups, thus, thinking this is being “tolerant”. Tolerance is respecting ALL walks of life, not just certain ones that he can win over for votes. America is no longer free, it only favors certain groups.

      • Well, cant be tolerant of all walks of life if you don’t give those in the minority’s equality in the first place. Maybe in 50 years when people have the right to marry who they want, and atheist are able to send the kids to school without the fear that creationism will be taught, or when woman finally make the same as men make, can you truly say someone is favoring certain groups. But for now it is still the rich, white, straight men who have all the rights.

      • Those are all moot points, Mike, and just liberal babble.

        And the line that women make less then men is total BS. I have yet to get a job where I was paid more than a women. Their pays have always equalled mine.

        Stop getting your news from MSNBC….The liberals are FOS.

  3. how about a subway system for ( the big city ). no wonder providence is a dump. how about ( the knowledge district ) weeds. the so called (superman bldg) empty. so happy i moved to the boston area.

      • You do realize, Snap Shot, that you embody the townie mentality that keeps RI in the weeds, right? That idea that anyone who cites an area that is truly innovative and forward-thinking is a better place to live is suddenly “not wanted” as opposed to embraced for shining a light on the potential RI could have if it wanted it?

        Rhode Island has a long, long, LONG way to go to being competitive with cities like Boston. Telling a guy to “stay there” because he wanted something better is not wise; finding ways to entice those who left to come back is.

      • Jeff, Snap Shot can’t help it. He lives in a democratic-ran state and that’s how liberals react.

    • MA is 10 times better than RI. They respect their US history, have many tourist attractions, they have great highway and roads, they have more jobs AND they had who should be our president now, Govt. Mitt Romney! Only gross part of MA is Provincetown.

      RI should take lessons from MA.

  4. This is another example of Chafee pouring money into Warwick…a suburb that needs NO infrastructure work…and ignoring Providence – the core of southern New England and a national destination!!

    The Mayor’s proposal is excellent. All Providence elected officials need to fight this now!

    This guy has got to go…

    • Who wants to invest in Providence? It’s nothing but a ghetto, where poeple get shot every day and is infested with EBT card moochers, illegal aliens and black/hispanic and asian gangs…

      Parking sucks in Providence. You can spend $15.00 on a show at Lupo’s, but have to pay $30.00 to park? Please! I’d rather drive to anything like a concert all the way in MA where they are in safer areas and you’re raped for parking.

      And you the heck ever heard of paying to park to visit sick loved ones by having to pay to go to the hospital? OR, you have to pay to shop at a mall?

      We have all these costs and taxes and it’s never enough! Our roads are a mess, for the losers around here don’t know how to plow, every ten feet National Grid is digging up the roads doing who knows what, the Flintstones had better roads than we do!!!

      This state is bloody mess. And Chafee is bringing it down, just like Obama is bringing down the entire country….

  5. These projects need to be prioritized based on economic impact not convenience or politics. As a long time Warwick resident I certainly understand the consternation caused by the traffic patterns in Apponaug for many years and I know this project has been on the books for many years as well. That said, the economic condition of this state is abominable and the streetcar project, in my opinion, would have a substantial impact on our ability to draw new business into Providence, assuming both the General Assembly and Providence City Council support new initiatives to make this a more business friendly city and state. Having a central transportation system such as the trolley would take the city to another level. The city of Providence needs a little help from its friends, the mayor cannot simply do it without the state’s assistance. This is a city/state, although people who do not work in Providence or come to Providence on a consistent basis might not realize that, the strength of this state is only as strong as its capital city. And when is someone or some group going to take us out of our 45th to 50th place rankings in moat categories related to the cost of living and working in Rhode Island. Without comparing Providence to San Francisco or other similar cities such as Portland, Oregon which have successful trolley systems, it would be a true rennaisance for Providence to have a similar transportation alternative. By so doing, it would revitalize the state and the business community, adding new firms and creating a increased economy. That would obviously, drive the creation small businesses, create more demand for urban housing and substantially increase city and state revenue due to the growth in economic activity. Let’s take the politics out of this decision and do what is right for Rhode Island and its citizens, maybe we’ll even climb up in the rankings a couple of notches.

  6. Thanks John for your thoughtful comment. My problem with the streetcar proposal – Thayer St tunnel to RI Hospital area – is that it is too small to do much good (it duplicates existing Ripta line 1-42, it has little commuter base, $2 a ride for short distance won’t draw much) and it is too small to excite anyone beyond streetcar fans and the Mayor/city planners. That said, streetcars can enhance economic development, the environment, and our mobility, and even if it can’t all be built right away, what is needed is a vision of a network that can benefit the region and get folks interested from all over the metro area. That is the kind of thing that got voters elsewhere to approve new taxes to get it built.

  7. Taveras needs to come up off that crack-rock he’s smoking. Nobody on the east side wants a direct, cheap pipeline to the south side. How about he re-pave streets that havent been paved in over fifty years. That cobblestone downtown isnt for show. Let’s run Providence through the FICO system and see that score. These politicians are morons. It’s all just a scam. It always is.

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