The Interlink station, is an inter-modal terminal located at the T.F. Green Airport (PVD), Rhode Island which connects rail, air, bus, automobiles, and rental cars.
Project Type:Station Project Mode:Commuter Rail Average Weekday Riders:414 Length (mi):0.00
Economic Distress:0.98 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):905 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.11
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.33 Market Size:1,139,647 Airport Travel Distance: Topography:9
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:RI County:Kent
City:Warwick Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City Warwick
Impact Area:Local Area Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:41.727744 / -71.442445
Initial Study Date:2006 Post Constr. Study Date:2015
Constr. Start Date:2007 Constr. End Date:2010
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2010 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):280,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):297,718,000
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||2.26||1.40||3.66|
|Output (in $M's)||9.45||4.38||13.83|
The Interlink, also known as the Warwick Intermodal Station, is an intermodal terminal located at T.F. Green Airport (PVD), in Warwick, Rhode Island which serves the Providence area and Southern Massachusetts. This intermodal station connects rail, air, bus, automobiles and rental cars.
The construction of the Interlink project began in the fall of 2007, through a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC). The intermodal facility was planned to enhance the overall mobility and relieve the traffic congestion on Interstate 95 (I-95) and other adjacent highways. Improving the air quality and supporting economic development were other goals of this intermodal project.
The project was completed at the end of October 2010 for a total cost of $297.7 million (in 2013 dollars). The costs of the project were covered through a public-private partnership program, with RIDOT, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), RIAC, the Rhode Island Division Office of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Amtrak, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, the city of Warwick (as public partners), and several rental car companies located at the airport (as the private partners).The project is an example of how strong partnerships across multiple agencies and businesses were needed to be successful.
RIDOT was responsible for both the planning and design of the Interlink project, as well as related environmental studies, while RIAC oversaw construction and delivery of the project. After completion in 2010, the MBTA extended its Boston-Providence commuter services to the Warwick Interlink station on the tracks owned by Amtrak.
A 2015 estimate showed that 97 new jobs were created by new businesses and developments adjacent to the Interlink station. As of November 2017, a new hotel, a 500,000-sq. ft. business center, and a 100,000-sq. ft. mixed residential-commercial project are under development or at the planning stage. Assuming these projects are completed, an estimated 2,000 new jobs will be added to the Interlink station area.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Interlink intermodal facility is located at the T.F. Green Airport (PVD), between I-95 and U.S. Route 1 in the city of Warwick, Rhode Island. Interstate 95 and 295 are the main north-south corridors passing through the city of Warwick, connecting it to the Providence metro area in the north. Interstate 95 via exit 10, and U.S. Route 1 (also known as Post Rd.) provide a less than two mile-drive between the Interlink station and downtown Warwick. Warwick is the second largest city in the state of Rhode Island and is located about 10 miles from the Providence metro area, 60 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, and 170 miles from New York City.
The MBTA commuter trains provide service at the Interlink station between Warwick, Providence, and Boston on Amtrak tracks. Amtrak trains do not currently stop at the Interlink station because they lack overhead electric power, an issue due to funding issues. However as of 2017, Amtrak is considering adding an electrified track to the station to support its trains.
The Interlink station includes rail platforms, local bus bays, a rental car facility (for all rental car operations), and a six-story parking garage for rental cars and commuters. The Skywalk pedestrian overpass is enclosed and connects passengers between the airport terminal and the Interlink station. The rail station has a climate-controlled room on the middle platform which serves both directions and provides heating and cooling for different seasons, a drop-off lane, a parking payment booth, and a small bicycle rack. The pedestrian and cycling paths connect the station to Jefferson Boulevard, where the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has a bus stop for line 8.
The T.F. Green Airport is the largest commercial airport in Rhode Island which had more than 3.6 million annual passengers in 2016. In October 2017, T.F. Green's runway extension project was completed. This project, which lengthened the airport’s main runway by 1,534 feet to 8,700 feet, enables the airport to expand its regional operations to provide additional national and international service.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The state of Rhode Island consists of 5 counties and 39 municipalities. However, county divisions only act as geographic regions and there is no county form of government in Rhode Island. The state government is located in the capital city of Providence, which is only 10 miles from the City of Warwick, located in Kent County. The state’s local form of government divides into the 39 municipalities.
Healthcare and social assistance are the state’s major industries, accounting for nearly 90,000 jobs across Rhode Island and more than 13,500 jobs within Kent County. Retail, accommodation, and food service industries are the next largest industry sectors, each with more than 50,000 jobs across the State and each reflecting around 10% of jobs within Kent County
The largest employer in the city of Warwick is Kent Memorial Hospital which hosts 346-beds and is located less than 4 miles from the Interlink station in Warwick. Kent Memorial is the second largest hospital in Rhode Island with 733 employees and accounts for 2% of Warwick’s employment.
The opening of the Interlink station coincided with the economic recession of 2010. During that period, construction and manufacturing industries in the area were impacted most severely. In 2006, the construction industry accounted for more than 6% of employment in Kent County, while the manufacturing industry accounted for about 9%. Between 2006 and 2011, Kent County lost 26% of its construction employment and more than 24% of its manufacturing jobs. As of 2015, five years after the opening of the Interlink station, both industries still have continued to struggle, restoring only half of their lost jobs.
Most of Warwick’s population are middle-aged white-collar workers and most city residents own single-family homes. The substantial job loss during the recession and limited selection of rental properties forced many young adults to relocate to nearby Providence, Boston, and New York City. During the recession, local officials observed no new construction projects in Warwick and Kent County. The negative impacts of a struggling construction industry could be one major reason for the 3.1% decrease in the population of Kent County and the 0.6% drop in Warwick’s population between 2006 and 2015.
Between 2006 and 2015, Rhode Island increased its employment by 2.5% to 627,330 jobs with most of the job increase in Providence. During the same period, the population of Rhode Island decreased by 1.06%, compared to a 7% increase in the U.S. population. Most of the new jobs were in healthcare and retail trade occupations. The decrease in Rhode Island’s population and increase in the number of jobs may reflect the fact that many Rhode Island employees live in adjacent states (such as Massachusetts). Based on Department of Labor report of 2013, about 9% of Rhode Island workers lived in Massachusetts, 1.6% lived in Connecticut, and about 7% lived in other adjacent states.
During the same period, employment in Kent County decreased by 4.5% (from 103,387 to 98,764 jobs) and employment in Warwick decreased by more than 7.4% (from 46,961 to 43,444 jobs). The per capita income of the state and county increased by about 27% between 2006 and 2015, while the per capita income in Warwick increased by more than 17%.
Initial studies for the development of the site next to the T. F. Green Airport began in the late 1980s with plans to build a train station near the airport and installing a people mover system to connect the two facilities. Interstate 95, the main corridor connecting the airport to the Greater Providence Area, was overly congested and part of the impetus of the project was to divert some of the automobile traffic to commuter rail use. Also, connecting the City of Warwick to Providence and Boston via rail access would provide new business incentives and stimulate economic development.
In 1991, RIDOT started feasibility studies for building the rail-air connection station and state and local officials approved plans in 1992. These plans were supported by the passage of a National Highway System Designation Act (NHS) of 1995, which enabled the state of Rhode Island to use a portion of its highway funds for transit projects.
Initial plans estimated the cost of the train station and people movers at around $35 million. In 1997, RIDOT published new cost studies which estimated more than $23 million for the only the people-mover system. At the same time, RIDOT proposed the inclusion of private partners to cover the increasing costs of the project. This plan included the consolidation of nine rental car companies located near the airport into one rental facility to utilize the land area for the train station and parking garages. The nine rental car companies agreed to contribute to the construction costs in return of a spot in the designated car rental section in the station.
RIAC joined the partnership in 2001 with the promise to provide additional parking spaces at the airport and oversee the delivery of the project. After the September 11 attacks, the project was in limbo due to a fear in the decline in the airline industry which discouraged partner investments from RIAC and rental car companies. .
In 2003, the newly-elected governor restarted the intermodal station project. New plans for the station replaced the people movers with a Skywalk. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU), passed in 2005, helping to smooth the negotiations with Amtrak to extend the MBTA commuter train operations to Warwick. The Interlink project was announced in 2006 and the construction began in the fall of 2007.
In 2008, a terminal improvement project (to enhance the safety at the terminal and lengthen a runway) at T. F. Green Airport was completed to support the future rail-air connected operations. The Interlink intermodal station began service in October 2010. Of the $297.7 million in costs of the project (in 2013 dollars), about 45% was covered through federal funding grants and 15% was covered by Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans, which provide financial assistance for projects with regional and national significance. The remaining costs were covered through special facility revenue bonds, state grants, and interest earnings.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Prior to the construction of the Interlink intermodal station in 2001, the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) on I-95 was about 166,600. This number decreased by 7% to 155,000 by the end of 2016. During the same period AADT on Route 1, adjacent to the T.F. Green Airport, has decreased from 30,100 to 18,000. The change in the average traffic volume can be related to the commuter rail option provided for commuters and air passengers traveling to Boston or Providence.
MBTA commuter trains stop at the Interlink station platform 20 times per weekday. In 2012, the average weekday ridership at the station was 149 and by mid-2017 this number had only increased to 414. The commuter rail daily ridership at the Interlink station was projected to be 529 in 2020. To get closer to this forecast, RIDOT is offering free rides for the second half of the year 2017 to increase the ridership at Interlink and Providence stations.
One solution for increasing ridership discussed by local transportation professionals is the restoration of an existing fourth track on the Northeast Corridor, which has been idle, to allow operation of tilting trains. The Acela trains used by Amtrak tilt when turning, and Amtrak kept the mentioned 13-mile track idle to allow safe distance from any encroaching movements. Later, the tilting movements of the trains turned out to be less than Amtrak expected and now the idle track has the potential to provide more frequent and reliable rail service between T. F. Green Airport and the stations located in Providence County.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The initial plans for development of land surrounding the intermodal station at the T F. Green Airport were completed in 1998 through a collaboration between the Warwick Planning Department, state, and federal agencies. In the same year, the City of Warwick created the Warwick Station Development District (WSDD) to facilitate new developments and attract new businesses to the area around the station. The Warwick Station Redevelopment Agency (WRSA) was also established in 1998 to overview the development process.
The plans for WSDD covered the 95 acres of land around the station between I-95, Route 1, and Airport Road, with three sub-districts. The Intermodal district, which was the area surrounding the airport and the station, was planned as a mixed-use neighborhood. The Gateway South and the Gateway North districts were at the two sides of the Intermodal district and mostly designated for residential-commercial mixed use.
By the end of 2010, when the Interlink station was completed, only two new development projects had occurred in the WSDD Gateway North and South planning districts (discussed above) which were the 160-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the Ironworks Tavern Restaurant. Most of the land located in the WSDD plans were privately owned and the mayor of Warwick worked to assemble the individually-owned parcels for major private development.
In 2012, the City of Warwick completed the City Center Warwick Master Plan, which supported and enhanced previous plans by providing a framework for sustainable development. The new transit-oriented development (TOD) plans covered 111 acres of land surrounding the station area, which had increased in size due to additional parcels added. In 2016, the City of Warwick established a standardized Tax Stabilization Agreement (TSA) to attract developers to the WSDD district areas. The TSA agreement froze the value of a property for taxation purposes at the pre-construction assessment for five years. To qualify for the TSA program, projects had to be located within the City Centre Warwick Master Plan area and have a minimum of five million dollars investment in new development.
In 2014, the mayor of Warwick announced a $50 million investment by Michael Integlia & Co on a 100,000-sq. ft. parcel of land formerly belonging to the historic Elizabeth Mill on Jefferson Boulevard. As of 2017, the project was still under development and included a complex of apartments, offices, and shops. Another investment by Michael Integlia & Co. is for a project named One City Center, which is currently awaiting approval. The plans for this project include 30,000- to 50,000-sq. ft. of retail, 100,000- to 200,000-sq. ft. of office, and 100,000- to 150,000-sq. ft. of 1- and 2-bedroom residential units. A 100- to 150-room hotel is also included in the plans.
In 2017, construction began on a $23.8 million hotel project named Hyatt Place on Jefferson Boulevard adjacent to the T. F. Green airport and the Interlink station. The 125-room hotel is expected to be completed in May 2018. The hotel is the first phase of a project called “Intermodal Business Center (IBC)” which is under development by D’Ambra Construction Co. The next phase of this project includes 540,000-sq. ft. of office space with about 1,400 parking spaces.
Currently (as of 2017) there are several other projects in the planning and approval stages; although specific information has not yet been made public, it is evident that the WSDD plans are attracting more development. The completed developments in the WSDD area have created an estimated 97 jobs as of December 2015. When projects currently under development are completed, an estimated 2,094 new jobs are estimated to be added to the area. Residential developments currently under construction will also add an estimated 479 new units within the Warwick Station Development District.
The 1998 plans for the development of the Warwick Station District and a revision of these plans as the City Center Warwick Master Plan in 2012, promoted transit-oriented development in the area surrounding the Interlink station and the T. F. Green Airport. In addition to providing new zoning ordinances to support walkable communities around the station, the Master Plan also provided guidelines for development of a pedestrian friendly community with affordable housing options, close to office, retail, and entertainment spaces. The standardized Tax Stabilization Agreement was another major incentive for business owners and developers to start investing in the area.
The districts near the T. F. Green Airport already had existing infrastructure needed for developments. The area around the Interlink station is expected to see many changes in the future. The developments took more than 5 years to kick off mainly because most of the land located in the TOD plans consisted of individually-owned parcels which was challenging for government agencies to consolidate for a large-scale development. During the past 5 years (as of 2017) Rhode Island’s governor and the city of Warwick worked together in collaboration with private stakeholders and developers to enable economic development surrounding the station.
Organization, Name, Affiliation
Federal Highway Administration , Corey Bobba, Strategic and Legislative Coordinator
RIDOT, Stephen Divine, Administrator of the Office of Transit
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Janet Raymond, Vice President
Re-Think NYC, Liam Blank, Transportation Analyst,
Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, John Riendeau, Director of Business Development
The City of Warwick, Dan Geagan, Principal Planner
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland