PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been more than a year, but the East Side of Providence is now once again accessible by way of I-195 West.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) reopened the Gano Street off-ramp (Exit 3) overnight, just in time for the Friday morning commute.
However, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti tells Eyewitness News the reopening of the off-ramp is temporary.
RIDOT closed the exit last year to allow crews to repair the structurally deficient Washington Bridge. Drivers were redirected to Exit 2, which routes toward South Main Street.
Alviti said the exit will remain open while they conduct a traffic study in the area, however, there is no timetable on how long it will remain open.
He said RIDOT was able to reopen the exit since they’re still working on the preliminary design for the Washington Bridge, which he hopes will eventually direct drivers into the East Side of Providence more efficiently.
The reopening of the exit is welcome news to small businesses located nearby.
Anastasia Sousa, manager of Malachi’s Cafe on Ives Street, said the incoming flow of traffic is crucial to her business’ bottom line.
“A lot of customers who said they used to come here more regularly have come a lot less because the exit’s been closed,” Sousa explained.
She also said with the exit being closed, her morning commute has been a hassle.
“I have to take the South Main Street exit and then go down Wickenden and it takes a lot longer to get here,” Sousa explained.
Sousa said she’s hopeful RIDOT’s plan will be an even compromise.
“If the bridge has to get worked on, I guess it has to get worked on,” Sousa said. “But if they can somehow keep the exit open and work on the bridge, that’d be pretty cool.”
Aside from creating a more structurally efficient bridge, Alviti also hopes the new design will bring relief for thousands of drivers who depend on I-195 West.
“We know the Gano Street exits impacts, considerably, the safety and the time of travel on 195 heading west in the morning where we have tie-ups every day,” Alviti said.
Alviti said the public will be engaged in the preliminary design phase as it progresses.