Residents: Keep configuration at Smithfield Road

Residents: Keep configuration at Smithfield Road

Council also disagrees with DOT plans to remove the left-turn lane on Mineral Spring

NORTH PROVIDENCE - What many call the town's "busiest intersection," Mineral Spring Avenue at Smithfield Road, needs to stay as is, said residents and town officials last week.

Mary Ellen McQueeney-Lally, a local resident who needs to take a left on Mineral Spring Avenue eastbound to get to her home on Riverview Drive each day, said she believes officials from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation are reversing their earlier addition of a left-only lane far too quickly.

"I feel that they are putting safety behind convenience," said McQueeney-Lally.

The Breeze reported on Aug. 29, that the Rhode Island Traffic Commission had voted to restore the former configuration at the intersection to once again make vehicles turning left to cross two lanes of traffic without the benefit of a green turn signal.

According to McQueeney-Lally, the turn she once had to make "was extremely dangerous," especially if there was a truck or SUV in the lane closest to her, blocking her view of the other lane.

"You do not have a clear vision of traffic that's coming," she said, adding that it was often a matter of "edging out there and hoping for the best."

DOT officials are now in the planning stages for redoing the intersection to take away the left-turn lane they previously added, with work likely to begin by late fall.

Town Council members agreed with McQueeney-Lally and other residents they say are upset about the planned elimination of the left-only lane. They agreed to send a letter to the DOT asking that officials there reconsider the decision.

DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros did not respond to a request for comment.

Mayor Charles Lombardi has also said he wishes the DOT would keep the new configuration on the state road, despite claims of numerous calls of complaint from town residents to the DOT about traffic backup due to cars being forced right at the intersection.

Lombardi said for the Aug. 29 story that the current lane configuration was previously causing backup "halfway to police and fire headquarters" on Mineral Spring Avenue, but said much of the problem had been addressed after DOT workers made adjustments to lengthen the green light for drivers on Mineral Spring Avenue.

Councilor Stephen Feola said he would like DOT officials to consider other options before eliminating the left-only lane, perhaps making further adjustments to the traffic signals at the intersection. Feola, who lives not far from McQueeney-Lally, recalls often being forced to sit through multiple cycles of red lights without being able to get through the intersection.

Councilor Alice Brady said she's heard from many residents who are concerned about the potential switch back to the old configuration, but only one who was upset about the delays brought about by the left-only lane when it was added earlier this year. The configuration of the intersection represents a "very important issue" for many of her constituents, said Brady.

Comments

I am glad that the old configuration is coming back. Ever since the new configuration, the traffic backs up to Citizen's Bank frequently which makes it very difficult to get out of the street I live on. Good move by D.O.T.