Officials decide to remove left-only lane at Smithfield Road

Officials decide to remove left-only lane at Smithfield Road

DOT says move will ease traffic congestion on Mineral Spring Avenue

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The State Traffic Commission voted this month to rescind the left-only lane on the eastbound side of Mineral Spring Avenue at the intersection of Smithfield Road.

The road will soon return to its original configuration, according to Rose Amoros, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. The left-only lane was previously added at the request of town officials, said Amoros in an email, but the move to force cars right at the light has "caused significant traffic delays in the area."

As a result of a State Traffic Commission vote on Aug. 8, the two-lane section of Mineral Spring Avenue eastbound will go back to being "two multipurpose lanes" with no "exclusive" left-turn light. Amoros said the DOT is now in the planning stages for redoing the intersection, with work to change the lanes likely to begin by late fall.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said Monday that his administration is still holding out hope that the DOT will keep the new configuration, despite numerous calls of complaint from town residents to the DOT about traffic backup.

Lombardi acknowledged that the current lane configuration was causing backup "halfway to police and fire headquarters" on Mineral Spring Avenue, but said the traffic problem has largely been addressed over the "last two weeks" after DOT workers made adjustments to lengthen the green light for drivers on Mineral Spring Avenue.

"It doesn't seem to be too bad now," said Lombardi. "I'd let it go for a while."

Lombardi is asking DOT officials to give the current configuration a chance, as it has helped motorists looking to turn left do so more easily.

The elimination of the left-only lane is the latest piece of a never-ending effort to address traffic problems on Mineral Spring Avenue. The Breeze reported last fall that motorists along Mineral Spring Avenue on the eastern edge of town were seeing a reduction in travel time between 14 and 30 percent after DOT workers adjusted a series of traffic lights near the intersection with Rte. 146.


After years and years of traffic confusion at this intersection, the proper change was finally made. Like the rest of the country, the "left turn only" lane was implemented. Now we're going to change it back.
The traffic problem on Mineral Spring Ave is that it's one of the busiest roads in the state and it's only a single lane in each direction. An effort needs to be made to widen the street and allow 2 lanes of traffic in each direction (see Atwood Ave in Johnston).