By JOHN HOWELL
Mayor Frank Picozzi, Col. Brad Connor and the state DOT all favor putting Main Avenue on a “diet” from Greenwich Avenue to the Post Road and Jefferson Boulevard …
By JOHN HOWELL
Mayor Frank Picozzi, Col. Brad Connor and the state DOT all favor putting Main Avenue on a “diet” from Greenwich Avenue to the Post Road and Jefferson Boulevard intersection. The “diet” involves reducing the road – the site of some of the city’s most serious accidents including fatalities - from four to two lanes. This would provide for wider lanes, easier access and egress for homeowners living on the road, a center turning lane and a bike lane.
But with the reduction in vehicular travel lanes, can the major east-west road accommodate the volume of traffic? Picozzi has asked that question.
Col. Bradford Connor can’t say for sure, but as he points out it’s worth trying and if it doesn’t work the road can easily be relined so as to make it four lanes again.
“I absolutely support it,” the chief said of the plan that has been studied by the state. He cited Main Avenue’s narrow 10 foot wide lanes leave little margin for error that can lead to head on collisions or hitting a utility pole that are close to the curb.
Picozzi said he talked with City Council President Steve McAllister and Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi and both agreed to the plan. Main Avenue borders both Ward 7 and 8.
Connor noted that that section of Greenwich Avenue from Apponaug to Potters Avenue used to be four lanes until the state made it two lanes several years ago. While that section of Greenwich Avenue doesn’t carry the volume of Main Avenue, the dieting didn’t impact traffic flow and in Connor’s words, “a huge improvement.”
Charles St. Martin, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation said the department has received many complaints about speeding, crashes and the narrow lanes of Main Avenue. Referring to the diet plan he wrote in an email, “This would have one travel lane in each direction and a center turning lane that makes is safer for drivers to make left turns. It also would provide space for bike lanes on both sides of the road.”
St. Martin said the road would return to four lanes as it approced intersections at both ends. From the Greenwood Bridge east to its intersection with West Shore Road it would remain four lanes.
Additionally, St. Martin wrote, “RIDOT reviewed crash data and found there had been 59 crashes in the past five years on this part of Main Avenue, which included one fatal crash and 14 crashes with injuries (this does not include any crashes at Route 5 or Jefferson Boulevard intersections). Studies of previously implemented road diets have shown that crashes are reduced by upwards of 40 percent.”
He said RIDOT reviewed travel times using the current traffic pattern and projected once implemented the diet would increase the travel time by an average of 25 seconds.
The RIDOT has plans for East Avenue, eastward from the Main and Greenwich Avenue intersection.
St. Martin said Friday the state recently submitted a request for a $25 million federal RAISE grant to rebuild the larger East Avenue corridor, with a series safety, bridge, transit, bike paths and bike lanes, and congestion improvements along Route 113 from Bald Hill Road to Main Avenue and on Bald Hill Road from the I-295 ramps to Centerville Road.
He said the project will reduce congestion, add electric car charging stations at CCRI, improve options for cycling and walking, including connectivity to the Washington Secondary Bike Path – all of which will improve air quality through reduced vehicle emissions.
Asked how bicyclists would navigate between off and on ramps to Route 95, St. Martin said the bike lane would go down the middle of the road where there is currently a divider.
The grant proposal is online at www.ridot.net/Projects/EastAve
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