Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.
This week Dave and Mark talk with Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis. They not only discuss why ridership is light on the commuter rail line south of Providence. Director Lewis also talks about the federal highway trust that’s expected to run dry by next year. It’s the state’s only source of transportation funding.
In a rare move, Amtrak has slowed down trains along the Northeast Corridor due to the heat. Amtrak trains travel at speeds reaching more than 100 mph, but on Thursday they’re going about 60mph.
Sensors along the track show rail temperatures at more than 120 degrees. And Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said those hot rails pose safety concerns. “They can under some rare circumstances expand. So the thought process behind any restriction in speed is to have the trains going at a lower than normal speed to make it less problematic in case there were an issue with the track,” said Cole.
Amtrak is spending the summer replacing old railroad ties along the Northeast Corridor. This replacement work is coming to the MBTA’s line in Rhode Island, and starting Friday it will affect six lines delivering passengers to Wickford Junction. This includes trains that will stop at Wickford, but not at TF Green airport, or trains that will end at the airport and not continue on to Wickford.
The disruptions will only be on Fridays starting this week and will end on Friday August 9th.