Rhode Island State Rail Planning

The State of Rhode Island has prepared the Passenger and Freight Rail Supplement to the Long Range Transportation Plan in accordance with guidance provided by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the provisions under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) for state passenger and freight rail planning, as well as subsequent amendments to PRIIA as included in the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The Passenger and Freight Rail Supplement prepared as part of Transportation 2040, builds on the work of the Rhode Island State Rail Plan and is included as Appendix Q of the Long Range Transportation Plan.  

In 2013, FRA provided formal guidance to states on how to prepare state rail plans in accordance with PRIIA. The guidance prescribed state rail plan content, minimum requirements, and included a provision that eligibility for federal rail funding programs were contingent on having an approved state rail plan. To meet the requirement, in 2014, the Rhode Island State Rail Plan was developed to meet the provisions of PRIIA and maintain state eligibility for rail funding under PRIIA programs. The State Planning Council adopted the Rhode Island State Rail Plan on March 13, 2014, and it replaced the 1993 Rhode Island Freight Rail Plan as State Guide Plan Element 661.

In 2015, the FAST Act was enacted and eliminated the PRIIA provision that requires states to maintain a state rail plan to be eligible for capital grants.  In effect, the new FRA funding program under FAST Act -- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) -- does not require the project to be in a state rail plan.  In light of the changes to PRIIA brought on by the FAST Act, Rhode Island has chosen to prepare the Passenger and Freight Rail Supplement to the Long Range Transportation Plan in order to take advantage of the comprehensive approach to planning an integrated transportation network that is captured by the long range planning process.  

The Long-Range Transportation Plan is multimodal by statute and is formulated around national goals and planning factors, a number of which apply directly to passenger rail and freight, and it is in this context that rail planning for the state can be most effective. In lieu of updating Rhode Island’s 2014 State Rail Plan, the Rhode Island has compiled a crosswalk (or matrix) covering where and how each PRIAA requirement is met within our existing plans.  More information about rail planning in Rhode Island can be found in the Passenger and Freight Rail Supplement and in the Long Range Transportation Plan.