To the Editor:
It is with great concern that I write this letter to the editor of the Johnston Sun Rise to bring awareness and hopefully a response regarding the speeding and traffic control issues on Route 6 (Hartford Avenue) from the 295 overpass west to the Scituate/Johnston town line.
As a resident of Johnston for the past 20 years, this stretch of road has seen a substantial increase in traffic due to the development of communities west of Johnston along with communities over the state line into Connecticut. Since there is no “highway” from points west of Johnston and Connecticut, vehicles trying to reach 295, 95 or Highway 6 use Hartford Avenue, also known as Route 6, with a posted speed limit of 35 mph.
I travel this road at least four to six times per day, to and from the high school, along with transportation for my daughters to events in town. While traveling at a maximum speed of 40 mph, cars, tractor-trailers, dump trucks and buses pass my vehicle as if I was standing still. I estimate the majority of cars travel above 45 mph and some can be seen traveling 60 mph on the weekends when traffic is light.
There have been several serious accidents over the years with some causing fatalities. With the recent paving of Hartford Avenue, the vehicles have been traveling faster and more seem to be speeding through red lights, failing to stop for school buses and creating a dangerous stretch of road. This stretch of roadway is lined with businesses on each side along with private houses, where buses need to stop to let off students. Since it is a four-lane roadway with no separating Jersey barrier or guardrail, vehicles are required to stop in all four lanes when the bus has its red lights activated. I have witnessed vehicles in the opposite lane of travel fail to stop for buses, and the reason is obvious –the vehicles are traveling at highway speeds and do not have the distance to stop in time.
It is difficult to understand why the speed limit decreases between Atwood Avenue and the 295 overpass to 30 mph when there are the same type of businesses and daycares along this stretch, but no private residences. It would seem that the increase to 35 mph after 295 does not take into account the amount of private residences in that area and it seems vehicle exiting 295 south onto Hartford Avenue west continue to travel at highway speeds. This is also the case for vehicle exiting 295 north onto Hartford Avenue westbound.
The majority of vehicles speeding on Hartford Avenue on the weekends have Connecticut or Massachusetts plates, and maybe these people do not realize this four-lane stretch of roadway is not a continuation of Route 295 or Highway 6. Within the past year, a “school zone” with a posted 25 mph and flashing lights in the area of Trinity Assembly of God Church, 2119 Hartford Ave., is completely ignored. I do not belong to this parish, which has a full-time school with buses and parents entering and exiting during the morning and dismissal in the afternoon.
The amount of 18-wheel truck traffic has increased dramatically and these unfortunately are the biggest offenders of “running the red light.” They travel this stretch of Hartford Avenue to reach their destination of Route 84 in Connecticut, as once again there is no major highway from 84 to 295 or 95. This letter is written in hopes that the state of Rhode Island will use its portable traffic signs to alert drivers of the reduced speed after they exit 295 and travel on Hartford Avenue. The road desperately needed to be repaved and new traffic lights at Reservoir Avenue make this intersection safer, but more vehicles are seen failing to stop for the red light.
Unfortunately a smooth, newly paved road also has consequences – speeding and ignorance to traffic lights and bus signals. I have sent emails last year regarding this to several people but did not receive a response from anyone. So with the road now paved, I am hoping this reaches those people I wrote to a year ago to help with this situation prior to a child being stuck getting off the bus; or a tractor trailer “running a red light” and broad-siding a vehicle; or, in my case and worse fear, losing my 15-year-old daughter, who is getting her license next year, to a speeding motorist who thinks Hartford Avenue is a continuation of Route 6 or 295.
If you are concerned about this stretch of roadway, please travel no more than 40 mph, in hopes this slows traffic enough to stop for school buses, red lights and hopefully prevent accidents.