Letter: Reducing lanes on Bristol Ferry will save lives

To the editor:

This in response to the Feb. 13 Newport Daily News letter, “Reducing lanes on Bristol Ferry Road would create new problems.”

The author is correct that Bristol Ferry Road is a gateway to Aquidneck Island and used by commuters, heavy trucks and school busses, but neglects to mention that it’s also a heavily populated residential road, the home of our town’s senior citizen center and a day care center. This, along with auto accident data, is why concerns about safety were addressed by the State Traffic Commission, just as safety was addressed on a portion of East Main Road, a similar gateway to Aquidneck Island, where a successful road diet was implemented in 2008.

The author states, “The ramifications of having just one lane in each direction should be obvious to any reasonable thinking person.” I suggest ramifications of a reduction from four lanes to three with a center turn lane are not only obvious, but have been demonstrated on East Main Road. No traffic bottle necks, fewer auto accidents and a road diet well accepted by the town.

The author states, “People in this area need to wake up and ask themselves how and why their tax dollars are being spent.” I think people in this area are wide awake and can read the letter sent by Steven Pristawa of the R.I. State Traffic Commission to the Town of Portsmouth summarizing the results of the engineering study conducted to determine if changes to Bristol Ferry Road are appropriate. Mr. Pristawa states in part, “accident data was reviewed for the last five years to determine if this stretch of roadway experiences a high frequency or pattern of crashes. Forty-eight crashes occurred from 2008-2012. Approximately 70 percent were attributed to rear-ends, angle and same-direction sideswipe collisions.” He explains how the implementation of a road diet can reduce their potential by reducing the number of conflict points. The accident review revealed that two of the 48 crashes resulted in a fatality with two additional fatal crashes in 2013.

Some are concerned a road diet would slow traffic and impact commuters. Mr. Pristawa states, “Typically, road diets can be implemented in locations with traffic volumes of up to 20,000 vehicles per day (VPD) without significant impacts to capacity.” The study revealed that the current average daily traffic of 12,900 VPD, peak traffic volumes, and expected growth rates including possible traffic reallocations associated with tolling, are well below this threshold. The number of intersecting side streets and driveways were counted to compare Bristol Ferry Road with the section of East Main Road where the successful road diet was implemented. The densities were almost identical. Significantly, all five roads connecting to Bristol Ferry Road are single-travel lane roads. Maintaining a four-lane road for a 1.2-mile stretch between them serves no purpose and encourages speeding. A state official said they will not usually force a road improvement without the town’s endorsement and most towns welcome initiatives to improve road safety.

I have complete faith that our elected representatives will consider the purpose of the study, the results and the safety of Portsmouth residents. A resident for 20 years, I’ve watched traffic conditions deteriorate. I’ve had many scary near-misses trying to enter my driveway. My husband was hit from behind trying to make the same turn. Our mailbox has been demolished numerous times and one car crashed upside down in our driveway. I can’t allow my daughter to take a school bus because traffic speeds by so close to the sidewalk. Two people have died within yards of my home and four fatalities in five years are far too many. I don’t want a family member, friend, neighbor or anyone to be next.

Diane Iglesias Carruba

Portsmouth

Editor’s note: Representatives from the state Department of Transportation are expected to meet with the Town Council Monday, Feb. 24, to discuss the road diet plan and other issues. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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