Letter: RIDOT is like the black hat villain showing up in town

Posted 12/3/23

The special Town Council meeting on Nov. 30 was held at the Portsmouth High School and was well attended because the agenda items were the transfer station and the proposed …

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Letter: RIDOT is like the black hat villain showing up in town

Posted

To the editor:

The special Town Council meeting on Nov. 30 was held at the Portsmouth High School and was well attended because the agenda items were the transfer station and the proposed roundabout at East Main Road and Turnpike. Since the proposed roundabout took most of the time, the transfer station item was tabled. This is my take on “the great awakening” meeting.

Mr. Rainer, the Portsmouth town administrator, was called by a RIDOT (R.I. Department of Transportation) representative to schedule a meeting with no specific details of what was to be discussed at that meeting. The subject was to be the roundabout at the intersection of Turnpike Avenue and East Main Road.

At that meeting, Mr. Rainer was told that if the town did not accept the roundabout as shown in the present plan, then Portsmouth would get no upgrades or improvements anywhere on East Main Road. East Main Road would simply be milled and paved.

It was also indicated that there would be no priority for doing the milling and paving. It could result in years of driving on this bad and dangerous road. There would be no widening, curb replacement or other changes to bring the road up to federal standards. The bottom line was do it the RIDOT way or suffer the consequences. Mr. Rainer got no respect for his town leadership and administrative position and was basically treated as a child — no dessert if you don’t eat your veggies.

RIDOT is like the black hat villain showing up in town. Yes, East Main Road needs paving, but not at the expense of ruining and possible closure of local businesses. The traffic disruption during roundabout construction would shift traffic to West Main Road and side streets at great endangerment to the public. This will impact local businesses and possibly put them out of business. Clements will be hard to access and severely difficult for customers to access. The Portsmouth Shop, Foodworks, Patriot Upholstery are a few more that are at risk.

It was also revealed that RIDOT would not release the build to drawing set of plans to the public. There have not been and may not be any public workshop sessions allowing public comments on the roundabout plans. The plans could be listed in the secret category.

The Town Council did get a majority vote to ask RIDOT for more information and discuss plans publicly, although there were some council members who voted to do the bidding of RIDOT and take the roundabout sight unseen, no questions asked.

Wake up, or a Connell Highway-style rotary or worse will be in the heart of our town. They will be taking some Clements property and possibly other business land by eminent domain. This complex, paved monstrosity once built will never go away. Get involved. Don’t let the people upstate, RIDOT and some local politicians ram this down our throats.

This is not a high accident rate area. It was reported that at present, 2.9 percent of town accidents occur at this intersection. Where is the improvement? Most of the accidents occur on East Main Road and RIDOT does not seem to want to address that problem.

Where are our state legislators on this? They have to forget about climate change, green energy, carbon footprint, etc. and get back here to represent us. We pay lots of taxes, all of which go upstate. Send our money back to pay for what we need for our roads and schools.

David Reise

66 Freeborn St.

Portsmouth

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