Governor Calls for RIDOT Meeting The Save Gano Gateway Committee of the Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) has secured a meeting with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RIDOT, to explore the best options for completing the Gano Gateway, the last construction project of the I-195 Replacement Highway.
At publication deadline, FPNA had received a letter from RIDOT asking Gano Gateway stakeholders to attend a meeting to address the issues, “outlined in your letter addressed to Governor Gina Raimondo, dated September 14, 2016.” The Governor’s Office responded to that letter from FPNA, saying that RIDOT is fiscally constrained and does not have funds for the original $2.9 million project. “That said, I heard your concerns regarding the new proposed $1 million project,” Lisa Vura-Weis, assistant chief of staff at the Governor’s Office, said today. “We’d be happy to engage in additional dialogue on how funds might be identified from other sources, such as the City of Providence, or how the $1 million project could be refined within budgetary constraints to meet community needs.”
RIDOT “Refined Plan” Questioned Vura-Weis is referring to a “Refined Plan,” which FPNA received from RIDOT in late September that does not address the 90-degree turn at the intersection of India and Gano Street, nor the installation of lighted and landscaped India Point Park parking lots under the Washington Bridge.
The budget of the refined plan was set at $1 million because that’s what was left after RIDOT removed $1.9 million to help pay for the Pedestrian Bridge over the Providence River, John Rousseau, FPNA executive secretary and Save Gano Gateway committee chair, points out. “Traffic flow is seriously hampered by this bottleneck for East Side commuters on Gano Street and for event goers at India Point Park.” “While we aimed for more direct intervention by the Governor’s Office, this meeting is a concession of sorts,” Rousseau maintains. Committee members Sam Bell and Sharon Steele, who worked successfully on the Stop the Stadium Campaign, agree. “This action from the governor’s office is how government works,” Steele says.
FPNA Explores Funding Options “We are glad the Governor’s Office has left other funding options on the table,” Rousseau continues. “We made clear that we do not want the remaining Gano Gateway budget of $1 million to be depleted by any so-called ‘refined’ construction plan that includes the dangerous intersection.” RIDOT’s original 2011 Gano Gateway design utilizes a different span of the bridge and calls for complete re-alignment of Gano and India streets, Rousseau continues.
“Mayor Jorge Elorza endorsed the Save Gano Gateway efforts at a re-dedication ceremony for the Roger Williams Landing Park Monument, September 22,” he notes. Bell says there are many funding options to explore. “Perhaps the scope of certain bridge projects could be slightly reduced, like the proposed Red Bridge replacement or the 6-10 Boulevard Plan,” he suggested. “Also, finding some sort of revenue within the gateway project land, itself might be an option.”
“There are some funds available within the I-195 Commission that possibly might be accessed, as well,” he continued. “And, then there’s always the funding option of the $1.9 million being advanced through the state legislature.” State Rep. Chris Blazejewski told FPNA that he and Sen. Gayle Goldin are planning to co-sponsor legislation to completely fund the Gano Gateway project. Fox Point Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 603177, Providence, RI 02906. 270-7121, FPNA.net, FPNA@cox.net. –John Rousseau
Events this Month FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm, Monday, November 7 at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Community Room, 455 Wickenden Street. The public is welcome.