Several Fox Point residents have approached FPNA with questions about construction and development activities on Gano Street. They’ve asked us to describe what is underway in the area, to explain future projects currently being debated, and to clarify how various initiatives relate to one another. These inquiries are entirely reasonable; the situation can be confusing.
There are three projects (or proposed projects) currently occurring on Gano Street, two involving the RI Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and one involving a private developer:
1. The construction work currently underway on lower Gano Street has involved reshaping the road under the Washington Bridge, relocating the bike path to the far archway under the bridge, improving the sidewalks, and resurfacing the sandy areas under the bridge. This project represents the culmination of years of advocacy by FPNA and other stakeholders, not only to solve problems with safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, but to preserve and highlight our natural surroundings near this major gateway to the East Side. This project is being performed by RIDOT and is nearing completion.
2. The upcoming Washington Bridge Project, also a project of RIDOT, was recently awarded a $25 million federal grant. This project will involve rehabilitating the ailing bridge and rearranging several roadways in Providence and East Providence in order to alleviate significant rush-hour traffic problems on Rte 195. The much-publicized questions of whether to permanently close the 195 off-ramp—and how to redesign the Henderson Bridge and environs—relate to this project. While the Gano Street off-ramp was closed temporarily this past Fall as a precursor to this project in order to solve some of the traffic problems on 195 westbound, the Bridge project is still in the planning stages. FPNA has joined a coalition of East Side residents, business owners, and neighborhood groups to oppose the permanent closure of the off-ramp. RIDOT has announced plans to hold neighborhood meetings in early 2020 to share the outcomes of current traffic studies, describe proposed plans for these roadways (including the off-ramp), and hear stakeholder feedback.
3. Last, a local developer, Patrick Collins of H.V. Collins Co., has proposed a six-story, 83-unit apartment building for private property on 99 Gano Street, located near the end of the 195 off-ramp, just north of the entrance to the bike path. In November, Collins went before the City Plan Commission to seek two zoning variances: one that would allow him to build two extra levels beyond the four currently permitted in our Zoning Ordinance (for a total of six) and another to provide 17 fewer parking spaces than the Ordinance dictates. While FPNA opposed these height and parking exceptions at the November hearing, we are pleased to now have the chance to work with the developer during the winter months to come to a workable solution. This proposal is unrelated to the two RIDOT projects.
Thank you, neighbors, for your ongoing interest in this important gateway to our neighborhood and to the East Side. We value your opinions on these issues and encourage you to attend our monthly meetings.
Photo: FPNA President Nick Cicchitelli speaks at a November 2019 CPC hearing regarding development on Gano Street.