PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - The Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the Gano Street exit on I-195 West will reopen after more than a year closed.

The off-ramp will remain open until a new ramp is built on the Washington Bridge, taking vehicles along Waterfront Drive in East Providence and over the Henderson Bridge. RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said the new route would divert traffic away from Gano Street and would feed directly to the East Side, improving traffic and preventing cars from weaving through side roads.

"I think it'll kind of be a win-win situation in the end," said Alviti.

Residents and business owners on the East Side disagree. A group of over a dozen people and businesses sent a letter to RIDOT, urging them to permanently reopen the ramp, following RIDOT's plan for a permanent closure that was unveiled in July.

"The permanent closure of the I-195 Westbound Gano Street off-ramp could lock these losses in and threaten the viability of businesses that are so important to the vibrancy of these neighborhoods," the letter reads.

While RIDOT, partially due to the outrage from the community, is temporarily opening the ramp, the group is still against its permanent closure for the rerouted plan.

"As for diverting traffic onto a newly constructed Henderson Bridge with only one lane of traffic in each direction, terminating at the intersection of South Angell Street and Butler Avenue, there is strong concern that this will lead to debilitating traffic gridlock.  Traffic at this intersection in the mornings has already become severe during the Gano Street off-ramp’s “temporary” closure," the letter reads.

East Side business owners said they felt the impact of the extended closure of Gano Street's ramp.

"They're taking away about a third of my customers. Some will find their way cause they have to come in to Providence anyway. But I'd say a good third, they don't wanna come here," said Bruce Owensby, owner of Wayland Square Shoe Repairs.

Owensby, whose customers come from across the state, said he's heard complaint after complaint of people not wanting to deal with the hassle of getting there.

"Gano's the fastest route to the East Side residents and to the businesses that are up here. It's convenient for people to get off on Gano. It's never been a traffic problem before."

He's run his business for 27 years and said he fears what a permanent closure would do for his shop.

"I bought it because of its location, and because of the way people had access to it. There's a lot of people who built their life here," said Owensby.

RIDOT will complete work on the Gano Street ramp in the coming days and will reopen it within two weeks.

© WLNE-TV 2019