Road solutions should be comprehensive, not political

Posted 9/16/19

To the editor:

At the Sept. 9, 2019 Portsmouth Town council meeting, Councilor Abbott put forth a “Resolution requesting the State of Rhode Island conduct a safety review of East Main Road …

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Road solutions should be comprehensive, not political

Posted

To the editor:

At the Sept. 9, 2019 Portsmouth Town council meeting, Councilor Abbott put forth a “Resolution requesting the State of Rhode Island conduct a safety review of East Main Road with town officials and members of the public and incorporation of green and complete streets policies into town ordinances and the Comprehensive Community Plan.”

After a long discussion and a few changes, the resolution was passed 5 to 2. (See the entire resolution on town website). Kudos go to Council President Aguiar for expanding the discussion to include all traffic issues in Portsmouth. President Aguiar and Councilor Hamilton realized that this resolution was wrong and flawed in so many ways that they rightfully voted against it.

In the backup, Ms. Abbott cites the outdated 2011 Aquidneck Island Transportation Study, which used 2008 and 2009 data, as well as Smart Growth America, a white paper by a hired consultant. Her statistics by local police and fire departments, cite only East Main Road data.

The main problem with the resolution is that Councilor Abbott focuses solely on East Main Road. As an engineer, one would think Ms. Abbott would have at least basic understanding of how any change in East Main Road could and will affect West Main Road and the crossing streets. This fact was pointed out to Ms. Abbott several times during the long discussion, but Ms. Abbott refused to listen and was only focused on her wants, not what is best for the residents of the entire Town of Portsmouth, who she is supposed to represent. 

West Main Road has a higher speed limit, has had several fatal accidents recently, and is home to the Melville Elementary School, only feet from the road. Replace “East Main Road” with the words “both East and West Main roads” or “a comprehensive transportation plan” in Ms. Abbott’s resolution and you would now have a document which truly addresses the traffic issues in Portsmouth.

Councilor Ujifusa, at one point, tried to throw Ms. Abbott a lifeline by explaining that Ms. Abbott was doing something to answer resident complaints. I believe what Ms. Ujifusa accomplished, was to add weight to the anchor of this sinking resolution. How does this help anyone but Ms. Abbott?

In Ms. Abbott’s victory lap on social media, she omitted that her resolution would not be sent to RIDOT. (The council agreed before the vote, that this resolution was not being sent to RIDOT.)

Her followers’ congratulations, on social media, are meaningless since this document will be filed away until the next election when Ms. Abbott will try to present it as one of her accomplishments. If her supporters really want to help Ms. Abbott, I would suggest that they each obtain a signed copy of the resolution from town hall and send it along to RIDOT. Then, everyone will know what a “great” accomplishment this document really is.

There are major traffic issues in Portsmouth, but taking this monolithic approach is political, shortsighted, and does not solve anything!

Nancy Grieb

110 Thayer Drive

Piortsmouth

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.