Those trying to reach T.F. Green Airport could have a new transportation option by fall 2011.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority recently voted to extend rail service and run eight trips a day to the airport. A line of MBTA commuter trains is currently under construction, and will run between Boston, Providence, Wickford Junction in North Kingstown and T.F. Green in Warwick.
Construction is going well and the project is running slightly ahead of schedule, wrote Patti Goldstein, vice president of public affairs and air service marketing at T.F. Green, in an e-mail to The Herald.
This transportation hub will provide enhanced customer service to T.F. Green's passengers with "a seamless link from the rail to the terminal," Goldstein wrote.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian agreed. "This is the closest link between air and rail in the country," he said.
The city of Warwick has advocated for this project for more than ten years, Avedisian said. Modifications to blueprints have contributed to this delay, he added.
Though MBTA commuter rail trains have been running to Providence for 21 years, this will be the first time service will operate in other Rhode Island locations, said Charles St. Martin, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
"This project will help to provide (alternative) means of commuting," St. Martin said. "It also takes pressure off highways."
Avedisian agreed that "it is a more effective way to move people, get cars off the road (and) lessen traffic and pollution."
The airport train station will be a part of the Warwick Intermodal Facility, set to open in fall 2010. The facility will also include a rental car garage and a 1200 foot walkway connecting it to the airport.
The car rental facility "helps in our marketing efforts to airlines," Goldstein wrote. A six-level parking garage will have up to 1800 spaces for rental cars and 800 for commuters, and house all rental car operations including administrative offices, according to a report released this year by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
The airport updates and new Intermodal Facility will cost $267 million and draw from federal, state and private sector funds, according to the report.
A separate $49 million is devoted to the new Wickford Junction station, while additional expenses such as upgrading tracks will cost up to $20 million, St. Martin said.
The economic impact is expected to be significant when the project is completed and the train service and facilities open, according to the report. This impact will include an estimated $43 million paid to construction workers.
"This project will lead Warwick to a new economy," Avedisian said.
An article in the Sept. 17 paper ("Rail service extended to Warwick airport") stated that a car rental facility that is a part of the Warwick Intermodal Facility helps T.F. Green Airport's marketing efforts to airlines, according to Patti Goldstein, vice president of public affairs and air service marketing to T.F. Green. In fact, the entire transportation hub, which also included a train station and car parking, assists with the airport's marketing strategy.