STATE HOUSE -- Senator Leonidas P. "Lou" Raptakis (D-Dist. 33) of Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick and Warwick, is asking incoming Gov. Don Carcieri to reconsider a plan pushed by departing Gov. Lincoln Almond to construct a $168-million train station at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.
As recently as last month, Almond went to court seeking approval for a proposed bond sale without General Assembly approval. In one of his last acts in office, Almond appointed his former chief of staff and legal adviser, Joseph Larisa, who played a central role in advocating for the station project, to serve on the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
Senator Raptakis questioned the need for such a large-scale project, suggesting instead that Carcieri look at a smaller-scale station, pointing to the ground transportation system in place at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) as a possible model for the state.
"For whatever reason, former Governor Almond has been in a rush to enact this project rather than give the new administration time to consider its feasibility," said Senator Raptakis. "Former Governor Almond's last minute push for Quonset Point isn't convincing anyone and neither is his ill-advised attempt to rush through this project."
Senator Raptakis added: "I believe the Governor and his top economic development people should look at BWI and consider a simplified train station plan that will meet the task of moving people from the airport to Providence and Boston at a third of the cost of what's been proposed."
The Almond administration's plan would have called for a combined Amtrak station and airport rental car garage on Jefferson Boulevard, linked to the air terminal by an automated people mover. Senator Raptakis believes a scaled-back train station, utilizing RIPTA or airport shuttles from the airport to a new train station with Amtrak and MBTA service, could be constructed for less than $50 million.
"The system in place at BWI has been working for years and we should view that as an effective model for improving the ground transportation at T.F. Green and creating new rail links to Providence and Boston," said Senator Raptakis. "There's no need to re-invent the wheel, especially when there's been no compelling argument to support the previous administration's grand scheme."
Senator Raptakis concluded, "it is my hope the Carcieri administration will move quickly to send a strong message that it will look at more sensible options and will not be swayed by the former Governor's attempt to promote this project by making a last-minute appointment to the Airport Corporation. We need to act now to develop a workable solution to the transportation issues at the airport."