May 21, 2020

Tanzi Advocates for RIDOT to allow restaurants to use sidewalks for outdoor dining

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is accepting applications from restaurants to allow them to use sidewalks for outdoor dining.
This news comes after a request by state representatives Teresa Tanzi and Kathleen Fogarty, according to a general assembly spokesperson.
“Our goal is to allow this for a short term to provide our business community the opportunity to catch up on some of the lost opportunities they have suffered over these last seven weeks, and calm some fears over the uncertainty of the future,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “While we realize this will not make any of our entrepreneurs whole, we do know that every creative opportunity we can provide offers hope for them to stay afloat.”
The application allows restaurants to use sidewalk space and also allows them to apply for extra on-street parking in areas where it’s not normally allowed. This would be for restaurants who are already using their own parking lot for outdoor dining.
Both representatives hope the RIDOT application could be expanded to retail establishments, as originally requested, if possible later in the reopening plan, the spokesperson says.
“We recognize that this is an extraordinary request, but this is an extraordinary time. We are very grateful to the DOT’s willingness to respond with flexibility because helping local businesses comply with new space requirements will help them stay afloat during a very challenging time. Virtually every local business needs help right now. Efforts like this will make a difference to what our Main Streets look like on the other side of this,” said Representative Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown).
Restaurants that wish to submit an application can find it on the front page of the DOT’s website. 
Approved applicants must also get local approval and comply with certain conditions. The approval will expire when the new limits on indoor restaurant dining put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.