State denies request for Putnam Pike crosswalk

State denies request for Putnam Pike crosswalk

A proposed crosswalk on Putnam Pike would allow pedestrians to cross from near Citizens Bank to the shopping plaza at 639 Putnam Pike. The State Traffic Commission denied the town’s request. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – Despite multiple requests from residents and business owners for a crosswalk at a dangerous stretch of Putnam Pike in Greenville, the State Traffic Commission denied the town’s request for a crosswalk there.

A December denial letter said of the 35 vehicular crashes in the vicinity of 639 Putnam Pike in the past three years, none involved a pedestrian. During a 12-hour count at the location, the commission found only four pedestrians were crossing at the intersection of Putnam Pike and the Austin Avenue signal.

Asked if he feels the commssion is waiting for a crash involving a pedestrian to take action, Town Manager Randy Rossi said that seems to be the case.

“That’s why we’re trying to be proactive about it. When somebody brings something to our attention, we don’t want to make it sit,” Rossi said.

In a memo to the town, the commission said the decision was made based on a traffic study looking at speed data, traffic volumes, crash data and sight distance. The study found that 85 percent of cars traveled between 34 and 37 mph in a 35-mph zone.

The letter stated that the denial decision was reached because 639 Putnam is not a “good crossing location due to possible driver confusion with too many changes in the area and not meeting federal criteria for numbers of pedestrians crossing to justify a crosswalk.”

The commission said that a crosswalk approximately 560 feet away from the Ace Hardware/Dunkin’ plaza at 639 Putnam Pike should be enough to allow pedestrians to walk through the area. Rossi disagreed, saying another crossing leading directly to the plaza is better.

Rossi said the request was made to the commission to open a crosswalk at the shopping center to help create a more pedestrian-friendly part of town. He said Town Hall and the Police Department received numerous requests for a crosswalk t the shopping center, and he felt the denial was unfortunate.

Rossi said the town got buy-in from local business owners, who elt the crosswalk would provide a good opportunity for people to walk safely to and from their businesses.

Rossi said he’d like to see employees at the business park across the street be able to walk to the recently opened Dunkin’ and other stores and restaurants along the street.

The town supports a “pedestrian community,” including any drive to get people outdoors and walking for personal health and environmental reasons, Rossi said. Though the town’s traffic safety commission approved of the change, Rossi said the state needed to approve alterations on the state road.

“Not just that area, anywhere we can build that community or residential, commercial and retail. Anywhere we can be green so they can walk to places,” he said.

Rossi said the town will try again to bring a crosswalk to Putnam Pike. He said he may try to get a list of nearby residents and business owners to show the state just how many people are pushing for the crosswalk.