Everyone agrees: Big trucks out of Slatersville Village

Everyone agrees: Big trucks out of Slatersville Village

Dangerous tractor-trailers can't navigate tight turns

NORTH SMITHFIELD - After witnessing a 50-foot long tractor-trailer carrying flammable gas attempt the nearly impossible feat of navigating the narrow streets surrounding Town Hall, Councilor Edward Yazbak decided he'd had enough.

The accountant by trade has an office in the small plaza beside the municipal building and he said that more than once, he's watched drivers get stuck on the wall in front of Town Hall.

"He actually tried to make the corner," Yazbak said of the semi-trailer attempting to pass through the village onto North Main Street last week. "It's a disaster waiting to happen."

Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton said she also witnessed the incident, from a conference room inside Town Hall.

"I'm seeing this thing coming and coming, and everyone's looking and saying 'they are not going to try to turn at that wall,'" Hamilton said.

"It was really unnerving. They made it past the wall and then they're holding up traffic because they couldn't make the next corner."

The vehicle reportedly held up traffic for five minutes before backing up, and heading along Main Street towards Gator's Pub.

"God love him going down that road," said Yazbak.

The councilor had brought up the problem of village truck traffic at several prior Council meetings, but on Monday, he decided to take action, sponsoring a resolution aimed at prohibiting trailer trucks from passing through the area, save for local deliveries.

"The village shouldn't be a throughway to Industrial Park," he said. "We've got a historic gem here and we have trucks running through it."

The resolution points out that the area contains the first planned known village in North America.

"The center of Slatersville, in the town of North Smithfield, is a historic village with a confluence of narrow streets, sidewalks and tight corners, which are basically the same dimensions as originally created some 200 years ago," it states.

Trucks, it explains, which frequently end up in accidents in the tight area, have many convenient alternative routes.

The resolution, which Yazbak emphasized makes an exception for local deliveries, was one of the few issues the Council has faced this year to be supported from the start, not just by the full Council, but also members of the administration.

Town Planner Robert Ericson did make a minor case for some of the smaller vehicles that would fall within the classification.

"Forty-three feet will make that turn with no problem," said Ericson.

But Yazbak said that even if the vehicles could navigate the zone, separated from Industrial Drive and points beyond by the historic Stone Arch Bridge, it didn't mean they should. The bridge, which once had a 5-ton limit, had the weight restrictions lifted in 2009. This year, the state Department of Transportation found structural deficiencies in the bridge, and traffic has been reduced to a single lane, with a traffic light.

"I don't think there's any need for tractor trailer trucks in the village unless they're making local deliveries," he said. "Those roads are not wide to begin with."

The Council did debate if the restriction should be based on length, weight or number of axles, before settling on a general limitation allowing "no through semi-trailer trucks."

The change will affect Main Street, North Main Street, School Street and Green Street, where through traffic by semi-trucks will be prohibited within one mile of Town Hall, unless they are making deliveries to local businesses. The vehicles will also be prohibited from crossing the Stone Arch Bridge.

The traffic restrictions must be authorized by the General Assembly, then implemented by DOT through the use of signage. The Council voted unanimously 4-0 to ask the state legislature to pass the limits.

Councilor Kimberly Alves was not present.

"I think it's a great resolution," said Hamilton. "Especially now that we're having work done on the bridge, and we're going through with the National Park."

Comments

This is one they have right on target. Several years ago a semi forced me into the guard rail to avoid getting crushed. Traffic behind me would not move and the semi would not back up.