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Rhode Island Agency Issues RFP for New Downtown Providence Transit Center

Wed January 18, 2023 - Northeast Edition #3
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

Gov. Dan McKee recently announced that a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued Jan. 17 by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) for the joint development of a new, modern Transit Center on Dorrance Street in downtown Providence.

The RFP was released via Ocean State Procures (OSP), the state's procurement portal.

RIPTA is seeking the expertise of private developers nationwide for bold, innovative ideas to guide the design, construction and operations of the new facility.

"The new Transit Center will modernize Rhode Island's transportation system, improve the experience for riders, lessen our impact on the environment and create a more functional downtown," McKee said in a news release.

"Bringing our transit system into the 21st century will attract more riders, reduce cars and emissions on our roadways, and create more opportunities for mixed-use development. A modern transit system is a key factor in attracting businesses with new jobs and economic development to our state."

RIPTA's RFP invites qualified and experienced entities from the private sector to submit proposals to design, build, finance, run and maintain the Dorrance Street Transit Center through a progressive joint development project delivery model. Responses are due April 17, according to the state agency, and a winning bid will be selected later in the spring. From there, a robust period of public dialogue and input with the selected partner will begin the process of creating designs for the new center.

"We are excited to move ahead with a state-of-the-art transit center that will benefit our passengers, the environment, and our economy," explained RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian. "This progressive RFP model will allow us to tap into the expertise of industry experts to develop a world-class transit center to accommodate a growing transit system while also maximizing the opportunity for community input regarding the project."

RIPTA Has Big Ideas for Transit Center

The new Dorrance Street Transit Center will serve as RIPTA's central bus depot in Providence, with Kennedy Plaza taking on a reduced number of routes. Initially serving three million public transportation users annually, and considering expected growth, the new transit center will feature a modern temperature-controlled passenger arrival and seating area, and amenities including multimodal accommodations for bicyclists.

RIPTA also is weighing the creation of a public meeting space with an open-air terrace, as well as other amenities to serve the community at large. In contrast to the sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, spread out across an urban park, the Dorrance Street station will give riders a single organized location.

Overall, the agency's proposal envisions a mixed-use development that will include an enclosed intermodal transit center and RIPTA administrative offices, in addition to an adjacent mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) envisioned to include first-floor retail and residential housing on the upper floors, offering economic development opportunities for the city.

RIPTA has been engaged in many lengthy discussions over the past year with state, local, and community leaders about the possibility of building a new, multistory, mixed-use transit center at the intersection of Dorrance and Dyer Streets.

The project's proposal has garnered broad-based public support, according to the transit agency. It is supported, in part, by a bond referendum originally designed to improve RIPTA services via a new transit center in the downtown area and was incorporated into RIPTA's long-range Transit Master Plan.

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