On June 12th, the Rhode Island House of Representatives will vote on the 2015 State Budget. Included in the budget is Article 21, legislation relating to transportation. It primarily looks to eliminate the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge and to create a Transportation Infrastructure Fund. It also includes two elements which have the potential to directly benefit Wickford; 1. to allocate funds to RIPTA for operating expenditures and, 2. to allocate funds to RIDOT to eliminate structural deficiencies of the state's bridges, road and maintenance systems and infrastructure. House Speaker Nicholas Matiello stated last Thursday "... this fund will allow for better infrastructure across the state and it will be a flexible fund... RIDOT will be able to spend the monies as they need."
Improving access to our area via alternative modes of transportation is key to improving Wickford's vitality. Allocating funds to RIPTA increases the potential for a Wickford shuttle or trolley to connect Wickford Village to Wickford Junction, Quonset, and to points beyond. Allocating funds to RIDOT will enhance the potential for the completion of Phase One of the 2014 State Rail Plan which specifies that "additional service is under consideration to fill in the gaps." Currently there is no weekend rail service from Boston to Wickford and there are gaps in service during the weekdays. Rail service from Boston to Wickford is an underutilized asset that could and should be leveraged to stimulate tourism and revitalize not only our local economy, but that of all the cities and towns along the Commuter Rail to Boston.
Senator Lou DiPalma, a sponsor for this legislation states: "We’re establishing a long-term strategy to addressing a long-term challenge: RI’s Transportation Infrastructure, including our state’s roads and bridges and mass transit." Mass transit includes rail, and this legislation is extremely relevant to Wickford as we strive to bring weekend rail service to Wickford Junction.
Your action is needed immediately! Please urge your district representatives and any state legislators you may know, to VOTE YES FOR ARTICLE 21 in the 2015 Rhode Island State Budget. Call or email your legislators today using the contact information found below.
Sincerely, Ellen Waxman
Rhode Island State Representatives
Rhode Island State Senators
Article 21 in the 2014 Rhode Island State Budget
Rhode Island State Rail Plan 2014
The Wickford Inbox - to follow this legislation and other local issues