Commuter-rail service is playing a leading role in a transit-oriented development (TOD) project near Providence, R.I., that public- and private-sector leaders hope will give the region's economy a much-needed boost.

Known as the Warwick Station Development District, the project is a 95-acre, pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development located about 12 miles south of Providence in the city of Warwick.

Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about the project by talking with city of Warwick Planning Director William DePasquale, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Chief of Intermodal Planning (RIDOT) Stephen Devine and Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (RIEDC) Director of Business Development John Riendeau. The city, RIDOT and RIEDC are developing the district.

All three said they believe the district's location along the Northeast Corridor and the "InterLink" multimodal transportation hub at the district's heart will help attract new businesses and a younger workforce to the area. The InterLink offers access to commuter rail via the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and it provides a 1,200-foot moving skywalk to T.F. Green Airport, access to bus service, 1,800 parking spaces for rental cars and another 800 parking spaces for commuters.

In other words, this TOD offers access to trains, planes and automobiles. (And buses.)

But it's the rail service that area leaders say will serve as the district's "backbone." You can read more about that in my web-exclusive article on ProgressiveRailroading.com.