DOT plans fix for Route 116 intersection with Old River Road

DOT plans fix for Route 116 intersection with Old River Road

This confusing intersection at Old River Road and George Washington Highway in Lincoln may be in for an overhaul, if the state can secure funding. (Valley Breeze file photo)

LINCOLN - Motorists who approach left-hand turns through the intersection of Old River Road and George Washington Highway with trepidation can breathe a sigh of relief - the Department of Transportation has plans for a fix.

But it may not come until summer 2015.

Lights on the north- and southbound sides of Old River Road will alternate, allowing those turning left to do so without having to navigate through cars driving straight through, said Robert Rocchio, DOT manager of traffic and safety.

He said delays caused as each side waits its turn will be minimal, while the results will be an "easier" and "less stressful" commute.

"We're talking a few extra seconds, on average, per vehicle," Rocchio said. "We think the benefits of not having to cross against traffic will more than make up for that slight increase in the delay."

The signals on George Washington Highway, or Route 116, are not expected to change, he said.

Work on the Lincoln High School-adjacent intersection, which Rocchio estimated will cost between $50,000 and $100,000, will also include making it more pedestrian-friendly by adding crossing signals and buttons. Scope of the project will include changing overhead signals, and installing additional steel poles and underground conduits, he said.

"It's not as simple as just making some software adjustments," Rocchio said.

DOT conducted a study of the intersection after a request was made by the town in 2011 through the Transportation Improvement Program. What stood out, Rocchio said, was the "atypical configuration" of the southbound side of Old River Road as it meets with Anna Sayles Road that only has room for one or two cars to queue in the northbound-approaching lanes.

A complete re-configuration of the intersection would be too costly, Rocchio said, adding that the signal changes are "the most cost-effective and feasible alternative."

With DOT officials on board for a change, the problem is finding funding. This particular intersection, Rocchio said, is part of a $1 million project to update intersections across the state, including three in Smithfield on Douglas Pike at Harris Road, Douglas Pike at Salem Street, and Putnam Pike at Cedar Swamp Road.

He said the state hopes to receive funding and go out to bid by the end of 2014. If that happens, he said the project could be completed by summer 2015, but nothing can be properly estimated without knowing when funding will be secured.

When the plan is implemented, Rocchio said state officials anticipate a safety benefit.

Lincoln Police Capt. Philip Gould said there were five accidents at the intersection in 2013, and one to date in 2014.

"I would say that it would not qualify as a problem-plagued intersection," Gould said.

Michael Gagnon, director of Lincoln's department of public works, said because "obviously (the intersection) needs some help," anything that can be done to alleviate construction is helpful.


It's long over due to fix that intersection however the problem I have the most is that there is no right turn on red and still people take that right and when they do which is a lot they could cause an accident how do you get the bad drivers in this town to realize that you don't take a right on red when there's a SIGN that reads no turn on red