Planning Board OKs preliminary plan for Cumberland Farms

Planning Board OKs preliminary plan for Cumberland Farms

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence Planning Board last week approved a preliminary plan for a new Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Mineral Spring Avenue, Charles Street and Vincent Avenue.

The approval came despite some concerns about traffic. Some residents asked that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation consider adding a turning lane to allow cars headed northbound on Charles Street to turn left on Mineral Spring Avenue without holding up the line.

“We’d like to see a feasibility study of adding that movement either as part of the RIDOT physical alteration permit process or part of the ongoing RIDOT reconstruction of Mineral Spring Avenue,” said Town Planner David Westcott in an email.

Attorney K. Joseph Shekarchi, representing the applicant, testified that representatives from Cumberland Farms reached an agreement to include the former Betty’s Restaurant in the plan, making for better traffic patterns. Shekarchi said the inclusion of the Betty’s building was the biggest change to the plan, which calls for 10 buildings to be demolished.

According to meeting minutes, Shekarchi said the elimination of an entrance from residential Vincent Avenue would make neighbors happy.

Planning Board Chairman Theodore Garille, who lives in the area, asked about traffic concerns and whether the project would make congestion worse at an already busy intersection.

Traffic engineer Francisco Lovera said a traffic study was done comparing existing conditions to future expectations. He said more than 60 percent of the traffic entering the site will already be on the road network, with 36 cars entering and leaving in the morning peak hour, or about one vehicle every two minutes. For the evening peak hour, the number is 40 cars, or less than one car per minute.

The level of service at the intersection in the morning is already graded at D on an A-F scale, said Lovera. The grade improves to C for the afternoon peak hour. The level of service won’t change once the store is built, he said.

Garille asked about putting a traffic signal at the proposed entrance to the gas station on Charles Street, but Lovera said the chances of getting the Department of Transportation to agree to such a signal are low. Garille asked if a left turn arrow might be justified so motorists trying to turn left from Charles Street onto Mineral Spring Avenue don’t have to wait for three light cycles, but Lovera said he couldn’t respond without having done an analysis. He said adding a new phase to the traffic light would add a delay for every vehicle passing through the intersection. He said a left turn signal might be a benefit for cars in that particular direction, but would likely have a negative impact on overall operations at the traffic light.

Shekarchi said that Cumberland Farms would start off with standard operating hours, but representatives may eventually approach the Town Council about a 24-hour license.

Neighborhood resident Roderick DaSilva, a member of the North Providence School Committee, said he had a petition from residents who are opposed to a 24-hour license for the store.

DaSilva urged officials to incorporate a left turn lane on Charles Street to help alleviate traffic. Westcott said he’s not sure the road is wide enough, but DaSilva said it would be wide enough if no one parks on the street.