Rhode Island has received a $650,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER grant, to help the state plan a new mass transit center in Providence.

"This is great news for Rhode Island. The Providence station is one of the busiest Amtrak stops in the nation and this TIGER grant allows us to further implement the state plan for a new mass transit center in our capital," Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Sept. 17.

The station, which outgrew its 1980s design and fell into disrepair in recent years, is among 72 projects nationwide to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Rhode Island will use the funds for final pre-construction planning, design and analysis. The station ranked one of the top three busiest in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's network, and 14th among 500 Amtrak stations nationwide.

Last week, Rhode Island's congressional delegation announced that the city itself is receiving a $13 million TIGER grant toward a proposed streetcar system linking Upper South Providence and College Hill, the home to Brown University.

The 2.5-mile route would also connect the jewelry and hospital districts in a corridor that the relocation of Interstate 195 has opened up for development.

The $117 million streetcar project has generated discussion among mayoral candidates. According to local website GoLocalProv.com, Democrat Jorge Eloza favors of using tax increment financing to cover the city's projected 47% share of the project cost, while independent former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci and Republican Dan Harrop suggested using local funds elsewhere.

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