Road shift will improve safety on Putnam Pike curve

Road shift will improve safety on Putnam Pike curve

SMITHFIELD - Greenville's "Main Street" - Putnam Pike - is about to move some nine feet southward along a critical 300-foot stretch in the heart of the village.

The relocation, part of a $2.3-million upgrade of the state road that is nearing completion, will increase frontage at the fire station and the adjacent, circa 1822 former Resolved Waterman Tavern, also known as the Smithfield Exchange Bank building.

The highway will shift closer to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, across Putnam Pike from the fire station and the one-time former bank building, which is being restored by the Smithfield Preservation Society.

The reconfigured road path runs between Smith and Austin Avenues.

Town Engineer Kevin Cleary said the relocation will provide more visibility on Putnam Pike - also known as Route 44 - for firefighters as they maneuver their vehicles in and out of the roadside station, and will also make the area safer for pedestrians.

Fire personnel have long said that because of the way the highway curves, visibility there is obscured and the situation is dangerous, especially for firefighters who must back their vehicles into the station after emergency runs.

The idea for shifting the road came from the town's Historic Preservation Commission, which said the move will provide wider frontage both at the station and at the former tavern and bank.

The latter building is owned by the Preservation Society, but the town owns the land beneath it.

According to Cleary, no land-taking was needed for the road shift because the new path is part of the state right-of-way there.

The work does not infringe on the triangular village common along that section of the road.

The road shift is part of a larger project, underway for much of this year, in which the State Department of Transportation is repaving a three-quarter-mile section of Putnam Pike from Austin Avenue east to Danecroft Avenue, and reconstructing the deteriorated sidewalks.

The project is renovating the last section of Putnam Pike between the Johnston and Glocester Town Lines that had not been upgraded in recent years.

Most of the work is being done at night. The contractor is the Cardi Corp.

According to Rosamaria Amoros, a spokesperson for the DOT, the project is scheduled for completion by the middle of this month.