Last fall, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) removed funding for construction at the intersection of lower Gano Street and I-195 at India Point Park, an area known as the “Gano Gateway” that was slated as a final element of the massive I-195 relocation project. During winter and spring 2017, the FPNA Gano Gateway Committee and other stakeholders worked with RIDOT to restore funding, in order to address traffic problems, beautify the area, and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The conversations with RIDOT culminated with a compromise measure that would cover rudimentary improvements and begin construction this year.
Early this summer, however, the story took a new turn, re-opening options for improved design and funding. In early May, the City of Providence convened neighbors and interested parties to discuss priorities for the project, including specific design features and safety measures for pedestrians and bicyclists. According to one FPNA Board member, neighbors discussed “a third archway [the eastern-most arch of the bridge] devoted to a wide pedestrian/bike lane a safe distance from the busy roadway. Sensitive landscaping of the site and a residual curve in the roadway would address the issue of traffic speed.” Also, in May, State Representative Chris Blazejewski introduced legislation to appropriate $1.9m to re-fund the project. The House Finance Committee heard public comments in late May, including testimony from FPNA leaders and Fox Point neighbors.
The FPNA sees great potential in this new phase of planning, for improved funding and a more thoughtful, cost-effective design, even if construction is delayed. After months of advocacy on this issue, the FPNA would like to see this project done right. Stay tuned for more.
10,000 More Suns
Last summer, Fox Point neighbors saw the first installment of 10,000 Suns in the empty lots between Water and South Main streets at Transit Street. “10,000 Suns is an interim park project in which 10,000 sunflower seeds will be planted on vacant land in Providence, RI,” wrote designer Adam Anderson. He describes the project as “a summer-long botanical performance.”
This year, Anderson is doing it again, and thanks to individual donations from an (online) Kickstarter campaign, has expanded plantings into adjacent fields and added a simple irrigation system. Volunteers gathered in late May to prepare the land and plant the seeds. “The first seeds have started to sprout,” said Anderson in late May.
But there’s more. “The project isn’t just about the sunflower,” said Anderson. “It acts as a symbol for possibility of landscape. The true ‘garden’ is the activation of the space and the engagement of all types with each in the field. It’s what all great public spaces should strive towards.” The FPNA welcomes this project.