September 2, 2014
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All aboard to Wickford
Cioe is man of hour as Wickford MBTA service starts
Robert Cioe, who pursued his dream to build the station, talks with Governor Chafee.

Bob’s mob was there. They weren’t going to miss it.

And Bob Cioe couldn’t be more appreciative.

“There are not usually very many other people happy for other people’s successes,” Cioe said looking over the gathering at the Interlink station platform yesterday morning. Here was the exception.

All of them would be catching an MBTA train to Wickford Junction. All of them would be sharing in the realization of Cioe’s dream of more than 50 years.

One of those who would be riding the train with Cioe was former coach and athletic director Emo DiNitto, who first met Cioe when his son attended Toll Gate High School.

Others, like Gov. Lincoln Chafee, came to learn of Cioe’s drive and determination. Chafee came to know Cioe while serving as councilman from Ward 9 and as mayor.

With admiration, Chafee said yesterday that Cioe has vision but also “the can-do attitude” to make it happen. “He’s right in there with a backhoe and getting dirt under his fingernails.”

And then is Barbara Ducharme, who had to hold the record for being Coie’s oldest friend at the grand opening of the Wickford Junction Train Station and Garage.

Ducharme’s father worked in construction and Cioe’s was a postal worker. The two families worked hard and as pre-schoolers the two children went to St. Bartholomew’s Church nursery school in Providence.

“His heart is pure,” Ducharme said of her longtime friend. Then after a chuckle, she added, “But his mouth is not always [pure].”

As Cioe and his cheerleaders waited at the Warwick station for the train to pull in from Providence, he recalled riding the rails to Boston to attend classes at Wentworth College. It was then that he thought how wonderful it would be to have train service from cities and towns south of Providence to Boston.

“That’s where I got the idea,” Cioe said.

It was a dream he never lost sight of, although nothing happened too quickly.

Cioe went into the construction business. In Warwick, he is best known for development of Metro Center South and the housing development at Major Potter Hills. But he is perhaps better remembered for the countless community activities he became involved in after moving to the city in 1964. Non-profits wanted him on their boards, especially when it came to capital construction projects. He served on the advisory board of the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center and spearheaded a program where students in the construction trades receive hands-on experience on actual projects.

Thinking about his career, Cioe said, “I’ve done better than I ever expected and I have an obligation to give back.”

In 1982, Cioe bought the land where he built the Wickford Junction shopping center and where he planned to build a station. Three years later, his comprehensive plan for the developed gained approval.

But that wasn’t the final stop on the track.

The project required an environmental study that was undertaken in 2001. Funding approval came in 2003, as the state would be building the station and parking garage on Cioe’s land. Still, it wasn’t until seven years later, after agreements came with Amtrak, MBTA and government authorities, that ground was broken and construction started.

“We came in under budget and on time,” Cioe said of the project, costing an estimated $25 million. It includes an 848-foot platform and 1,100-space parking garage as well as covered areas to protect travelers, heated restrooms and an indoor waiting area.

Two minutes before its scheduled arrival, the MBTA train pulled into the Warwick station. Already aboard were a multitude of dignitaries, including Michael Lewis, director of the Department of Transportation; Congressman James Langevin; Senator Jack Reed; Governor Chafee; and Congressman David Cicilline, who would all play a role at the ceremony in Wickford.

Cioe’s followers, along with Mayor Scott Avedisian, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Fire Chief Edmund Armstrong – perhaps 40 people in all – boarded the train.

Not wanting to wait for a return train, this reporter left the Interlink before the train department and connected with Route 95 and then Route 4 to Wickford. The train was waiting at the station when he got there.

He wasn’t alone. There had to be another 500 people from across the state.

More of Cioe’s friends?

Everybody knew him, bent his ear to tell him how wonderful it was. And when Lewis, who served as emcee, came to introducing those on a temporary stage in the parking garage, it was Cioe who received the loudest applause.

Passengers can board a train at Wickford Junction inbound to Warwick T.F. Green, Providence and South Station at 4:50 a.m., 5:58 a.m., 6:37 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 9:10 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:40 p.m., and 10:10 p.m. Commuters can travel from Wickford to Providence at 6:55 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. Those who wish to travel to Boston can change trains at Providence for South Station at 7:28 p.m. and 8:22 p.m.

Commuters traveling to Wickford Junction from Warwick T.F. Green, Providence and South Station will arrive at the Station at 8:54 a.m., 12:59 p.m., 3:26 p.m., 5:41 p.m., 6:42 p.m., 7:18 p.m., and 9:55 p.m. Passengers can also take a train to Wickford Junction from Warwick T.F. Green and Providence arriving at the Station at 5:43 a.m., 6:17 a.m., and 7:32 a.m.

In 1988, RIDOT and the MBTA signed the Pilgrim Partnership that initiated Providence to Boston commuter rail service with five round trips per day and approximately 200 riders. To date, the Providence service has 15 round trips per day, as well as weekend service, and approximately 2,000 riders per day. The service at the InterLink at T.F. Green in Warwick has added 20 stops per weekday on the Providence/Stoughton line with approximately 200 riders.

Thanks to the addition of Wickford Junction, commuters will now have the opportunity to travel to and from Providence and Boston, with 20 trips per weekday.

The travel fare between Wickford Junction and T.F. Green will cost $2.25 each way ($3 starting July 1). The cost of travel between Wickford Junction and Providence is $2.50 each way ($3.25 starting July 1). Travel between Wickford Junction and Boston’s South Station will cost $9 each way ($11 starting July 1).

Tickets are half price for seniors as well as those with physical disabilities. Children age 11 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Monthly passes for unlimited travel between Wickford Junction and Providence (Interzone 3) will cost $89 ($109 starting July 1). Monthly passes for unlimited travel between Wickford Junction and South Station will cost $280 ($345 starting July 1). Monthly passes are available for purchase locally at Café La France at the Providence Station or online at commerce.mbta.com/program/?prog=monthly. Passes also include travel on all MBTA buses and subways as well as the Inner Harbor Ferry. The new Station will also be linked to Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus service.


Comments
6 comments on this item

Congratulations for a project long time coming! I'm sure it will benefit those who commute regularly to Providence & Boston. I'm not sure about travel to South County-it will ultimately depend on cost/overall convenience.

Why is the Warwick fire chief in the picture with Scottie? We know that Scottiie has the city on the path to bankruptcy but with all the budget overruns in the fire dept, why isn't he minding the store at the fire house? Why ?????

I didn't know the Fire Dept had a store. What do they sell?

Stevie D...are you as dumb as you write?

I must be. Oh and you spelled Scottie wrong. Just wanted to point that out. Learn the facts please......

Budget overruns Fed Up? Last I checked the department was well understaffed causing these overruns. I guess city hall insn't aware that they can fix that problem.

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