RIPTA Approves Negotiations with Next Wave on Dorrance Street Hub Project
August 28, 2023
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is moving forward with contract negotiations for the Dorrance Street Transit Center Joint Development Project.
The proposed project would move RIPTA’s bus hub from Kennedy Plaza to Dorrance Street, a move that has drawn criticism from some transit advocates.
Next Wave Rhode Island Partners Group — which consists of several companies, including Gilbane, Marsella Development, CUBE 3, Jacobs, and Plenary America — would handle initial work on the project. This first phase includes assessing the site, engaging the public on design, and estimating cost for the building and operation of the project, according to John Chadwick, RIPTA’s executive director of procurement and inventory control.
Chadwick said RIPTA would not pay anything until after a contract was negotiated and approved by the agency’s board, and that the board would be updated at all “milestones” after approval.
If the preliminary phases are completed successfully, “We will return to the board with recommendations on awarding the project services phase, which would include final design, construction, financing, and long-term maintenance of the project,” Chadwick said.
Some transportation advocates expressed concern over approving the start of negotiations with Next Wave, citing concerns over costs, transparency, and the ability to get out of the agreement if needed.
“The Dorrance Street project, if fully realized with all promised amenities and features, could be good for riders. However, we would like to call upon fiscal responsibility at this juncture, something the new leadership of this board should agree with,” said Patricia Raub, co-coordinator of Rhode Island Transit Riders.
Raub, on behalf of the advocacy group, asked that the board defer the decision until there could be more input from stakeholders and better consideration of the potential costs.
The Rhode Island Current reported that Next Wave was the only group to submit a proposal to the agency.
The Kennedy Plaza Resilience Coalition sent a letter to the board arguing against Next Wave’s request for approval, saying the contract was not “vetted enough” and calling the termination fee “cripplingly large.”
Randall Rose, a coalition member, said he was concerned about the lack of off-ramps for RIPTA if it later chose to end the contract.
“The off-ramps that have been talked about are nonexistent in terms of the need to have one because the board will provide additional authority to move forward before expending funds,” Rhode Island Department of Transportation director and RIPTA board chair Peter Alviti said.
The board unanimously approved the negotiations.
The next RIPTA board is scheduled for held Sept. 27.
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