Portsmouth road going on a ‘diet’

Bristol Ferry Road (looking north near Botelho Drive) is slated to be reduced to one travel lane in each direction this year. Bristol Ferry Road (looking north near Botelho Drive) is slated to be reduced to one travel lane in each direction this year.

PORTSMOUTH — Bristol Ferry Road will be reduced to one travel lane in each direction under a plan recommended by the State Traffic Commission (STC).

Bristol Ferry Road (looking north near Botelho Drive) is slated to be reduced to one travel lane in each direction this year.

Bristol Ferry Road (looking north near Botelho Drive) is slated to be reduced to one travel lane in each direction this year.

That’s one of three changes recommended this month by the STC. The others concern a new turn signal at the intersection of West Main Road and King Charles Drive, and pedestrian warning signs on Sprague Street.

As outlined in a Jan. 9 letter from STC Secretary Steven W. Pristawa to Robert A. Smith, deputy chief engineer for the R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT), a “road diet” will be installed on Bristol Ferry Road between Turnpike Avenue and Boyd’s Lane — an approximately 1.3-mile stretch. (According to the letter, Mr. Smith had requested the changes on behalf of a citizen.)

“The reduction to one travel lane in each direction and center turn lane will allow for wider shoulders, which provides for a more bicycle friendly facility,” Mr. Pristawa wrote. “Signing and striping of the roadway will be completed through an active RIDOT construction project on Bristol Ferry Road which is expected to be completed in 2014.”

The Federal Highway Administration has identified the road diet configuration as one of nine proven safety countermeasures, Mr. Pristawa stated. In reviewing accident data on Bristol Ferry Road, STC found 48 crashes had occurred from 2008 to 2012. Two of those crashes resulted in a fatality, and there also two additional fatal crashes on Bristol Ferry Road in 2013, he said.

“Approximately 70 percent of the total crashes can be attributed to rear-ends, angle ad same-direction sideswipe collisions,” Mr. Pristawa said. “Past experiences and studies have shown that the implementation of a road diet can reduce the potential for angle and read-end crashes by separating left-turning traffic from through traffic and reducing the number of lanes entering and existing traffic must cross, thereby reducing the number of conflict points.”

Other road changes

The STC recommended two other changes after receiving requests from Sen. Christopher S. Ottiano (Dist. 11-Portsmouth, Tiverton, Bristol).

The first is the installation of pedestrian warning signs on Sprague Street near Education Lane, the street leading up to the high school. The signs will be installed by RIDOT’s Maintenance Division when work is scheduled in the area, Mr. Pristawa stated in a Jan. 8 letter to Sen. Ottiano,

While sidewalks or bigger shoulder widths could better accommodate pedestrian and bicycle activity, Mr. Pristawa said the available pavement width along Sprague Street is limited. “Improvements such as widening or the installation of a sidewalk are beyond the authority of the STC and should be requested for addition to the Transportation Improvement Program should you or the town wish to pursue this recommendation,” he stated.

Finally, STC approved the installation of a left-turn signal on West Main Road northbound at the intersection of King Charles Drive. That work will be completed “within the next few years,” Mr. Pristawa said in a Jan. 9 letter to Sen. Ottiano.

“Although this review indicated that this location does not appear to experience a significant number of crashes, the installation of a left turn phase does provide a safety benefit for vehicles turning left into King Charles Drive,” Mr Pristawa said.

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2 Comments

  1. Local Bargain Jerk said:

    Great, so the oblivious people who now drive 33mph in the left lane of this 35mph zone will now feel free to drive 31mph in the new single lane.

    These same oblivious people will not know how to use the “center turn lane” and will slow down to 12mph in the dead center of the reconfigured single lane when making a left turn.

    These same oblivious people will not notice the line of 12 cars behind them, lined up, going less than the posted speed limit, all of whom are frustrated as all get-out because they can’t get to work.

    Call me a psychic, but this is what will happen.

  2. blenda said:

    Oh that is such a bad idea! I live off one of the side roads on that section of Bristol Ferry and it is a death trap trying to get in and out of my neighborhood as it is. There is way too much traffic and when it becomes one steady stream there will never be a break for us to get out or across. How the heck does one fight this, they have the nerve to make this happen because they get a request from “one citizen”. Yikes!

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