Residents relieved as Lantern Road work finally begins

Residents relieved as Lantern Road work finally begins

A pothole breaks up the end of East Lantern Road, which is slated to be repaved and widened this month, more than a decade after it was originally planned. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – More than a decade after Angell Road Development Co. first agreed to lay a topcoat of pavement over Lantern Road, work on the roadway has finally begun.

Residents had been promised a top layer of asphalt in 2006 when the developer’s application to build 17 single-family homes off Lantern and East Lantern Roads was first approved. Construction came to a stop after the economic recession hit a few years later.

Slated for improvements more than 12 years ago, the road has since fallen into disrepair and will now need to be completely repaved. The developer will pay the cost of the topcoat, while the town will pick up the rest of the tab for the roadwork.

“If everything went well 10 years ago, the road would have been in much better condition than it is now … we have a horrible road today,” said Town Planner Albert Ranaldi. He noted that the decade-long construction hiatus was no fault of the developer, who recently began phase two construction of eight additional homes.

Since the project was approved, Smithfield resident and Deputy Chief of Police Robert VanNieuwenhuyze has raised safety concerns with the Lincoln Planning Board about the 11-foot width of the road in some parts. He is one of five residents who lives down East Lantern Road, and pays taxes in Smithfield and Lincoln.

He said trucks had an especially difficult time navigating the roadway, made only slightly easier with the addition of a cul-de-sac. A truck breakdown once backed up the entire road, as there was not enough room for vehicles to pass. At a public hearing about the residential development in 2006, Smithfield resident William Rampone said it once took 20 minutes for a rescue vehicle to get through to someone’s home in the area during an emergency.

In 2014, a safety inspector from the U.S. Postal Service deemed the route unsafe, forcing Lincoln residents to retrieve their mail from a communal mailbox at the end of the road.

“If you have a road with an alternate way out, it’s not as big a deal, it just might take police and fire a few minutes longer,” said VanNieuwenhuyze of the dead-end road. He said the cul-de-sac was the most recent improvement made to the roadway since the 1990s, when the town cleared brush and laid a top coat.

After surveying the road last year, the town concluded it could be widened to 18 feet at certain points, aside from some small culverts over wetlands.

“I think all of the neighbors are relieved that they’re finally widening the road,” said VanNieuwenhuyze, who grew up on the street when his was one of the only houses there. “This has been on the table since 2005 … a lot of neighbors were upset.”

He thanked Town Engineer Leslie Quish for taking a personal interest in the project, listening to their concerns, and working with the town and the developer toward a solution.

“She’s been excellent, attentive and responsible. She has a deep understanding and takes it seriously. If this was given the attention Leslie has given it five to 10 years ago, it would be done and residents would have an adequate and safer road,” he said.

“It’s not too little too late, though,” he added. “While it shouldn’t have taken this long, we’re happy and relieved that something is being done and our concerns weren’t left unanswered.”