The Rhode Island Division of Planning released its draft 2014 Rail Plan last week and East Greenwich was mentioned as a possible site for a future commuter rail station. However, town officials were hesitant about such a outcome.
The study, which can be found here, looks at all rail in Rhode Island. Once adopted, it would replace the 1993 rail plan.
With regard to commuter rail, the study notes the “feasibility and costs of extending commuter rail service to five additional stations.” Those locations would be the existing Westerly and Kingston Amtrak stations, and sites in Cranston, East Greenwich and West Davisville (Quonset).
The Massachusetts MBTA expanded commuter rail service to Warwick and Wickford Junction in 2012. However, the draft plan notes that the Massachusetts MBTA would probably not be involved in the expansion.
“Phase II service would most likely provide intrastate service to the existing and added stations within Rhode Island and not MBTA service to Boston,” the report reads in Chapter 6. “The study is also looking into potential connections to Connecticut’s Shoreline East commuter service.”
MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith said the transit agency had not been approached about expanding service in Rhode Island.
“The Phase II study they refer to is the current effort to assess potential ridership, cost-effectiveness, physical constraints to station and parking development, etc., for possible rail stops in Cranston, EG and West Davisville,” explained East Greenwich Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais. “I don’t know what the timeline on that assessment is or when the final report will be done but I frankly don’t expect great outcomes for EG. Without any additional investment from MBTA, if Rhode Island is left to its own resources, I’m not sure we could stack up on a priority list with West Davisville, which would serve Quonset, the State’s largest employment hub.”
Town Council President Michael Isaacs said any move to put a commuter rail station in East Greenwich would need to a complete review before going forward.
“It’s something that’s been studied and recommended in the past and it’s something we should continue to look at to see what the benefits would be to the town,” said Isaacs. But he added, “I think it’s so far off I’m not sure as a practical matter there’s anything to be done.”
The station outlined there would be bounded by Rocky Hollow Road to the north, the Maskerchugg River to the south, Greenwich Blvd. to the west and Amtrak to the east.