As East Side neighbors and daily commuters are likely well aware, the RI Department of Transportation has performed construction work since the Spring of this year to upgrade the roadways, sidewalks, and bike path at lower Gano Street near the entrance to India Point Park.
While FPNA and other stakeholders participated in years-long discussions with RIDOT to shape those plans prior to breaking ground, we were surprised to learn of a potential new project on the Washington Bridge—located just above lower Gano Street—that would have considerable impact on traffic patterns in the area. RIDOT announced in mid-July that it had applied for a $25-million federal grant to rehabilitate the northern span of the bridge (which contains 195 westbound) in order to reduce congestion and, “provide access improvements” on either side of the bridge. Under the “Washington Bridge Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Project,” the Gano Street off-ramp, which has been temporarily closed to accommodate the first project, will close permanently and ultimately be reconfigured into an on-ramp. (The current Gano Street on-ramp, now located on a steep slope just north of the Washington Bridge, will eventually be demolished.) According to the grant proposal, RIDOT also plans to add an off-ramp from 195 to Waterfront Drive in East Providence and to re-stripe the lanes on 195 westbound in order to maintain four lanes of highway traffic.
While FPNA was surprised to learn of these possible plans, we welcome any potential repairs to structural elements of the bridge. We also hope that in reconfiguring the highway ramps, RIDOT will improve traffic flow and safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians at this critical gateway to the East Side and to India Point Park.
To read the RIDOT proposal itself, download it here. Also, please join us to discuss this issue with other neighborhood groups on Monday, September 9 at 7pm (find details, here).