PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Business owners in Fox Point and on the East Side of Providence worry the proposed permanent closure of a highway exit will take a toll on their shops and restaurants.
Exit 3, the Gano Street exit off of I-195 westbound, has been closed for more than a year. Commuters have been redirected to use Exit 2, the South Main Street exit to travel to Fox Point instead.
It was supposed to be a temporary closure, but this summer the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced it’s seeking to permanently close the off-ramp and reroute traffic over the Henderson Bridge.
Some business owners in Providence tell Eyewitness News the temporary closure has already harmed them.
“I’ve lost 10% or more of my customers,” said Tony Cabral, the owner of the Central Meat Market on Gano Street.
Cabral said sometimes he doesn’t pay himself to cover for the lost revenue.
“They don’t care about small business,” he said.
Merchants are now planning to send another letter to RIDOT imploring the agency to reconsider its plans. An online petition to keep the exit open already had more than 600 signatures.
A spokesman for RIDOT tells Eyewitness News the agency is actively meeting with community members and will consider all input as it moves from the concept stage of these projects and into the design stage. RIDOT is also said to be performing numerous traffic studies for both projects.
RIDOT has applied for a $25 million federal grant to help fund the project, and officials hope to learn whether they’ll get it by the end of the year.
Both Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva have submitted letters to RIDOT in support of the federal grant.