Council signals support for expanded speed controls in East Providence

Could lead to installing cameras in school zones, greater use of technology to curb excesses

By Mike Rego
Posted 1/23/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — Members of the City Council, at their January 21 meeting, initiated action as it pertains to advocating for greater efforts to curb motor vehicle speeding in East Providence …

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Council signals support for expanded speed controls in East Providence

Could lead to installing cameras in school zones, greater use of technology to curb excesses

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Members of the City Council, at their January 21 meeting, initiated action as it pertains to advocating for greater efforts to curb motor vehicle speeding in East Providence by unanimously passing a pair of resolutions on the topic.

Introduced separately by Council President/Ward 1 representative Bobby Britto and Ward 2’s Anna Sousa, respectively, the pieces (see attachments) set the city on track to potentially installing cameras in school zones, per Rhode Island General Law, and request East Providence’s General Assembly caucus back legislation providing municipalities with more and greater tools to address the problem.

“This is one of the demons I’ve been dealing with in four-plus years here in the city, trying to combat speeding in the city, not only in speed zones but throughout the city as a whole,” Mr. Britto said while introducing his measure on cameras.

He added the issue has been discussed for long enough and that it was time for action, though he made a special point of attempting to quell any conjecture his effort was just another attempt to burden residents financially.

“I want to make it clear first and foremost, the first thing people say is you’re looking to generate additional income. And that’s not, by any means, my imagination to do something as such. This is a public safety issue only. I’ve been battling this for some time now,” Mr. Britto explained.

He continued, saying he has long been an advocate for addressing the matter. He referenced changes in Rumford on Pleasant Street and at Myron Francis Elementary School as examples of not only attempting to create better traffic flows, but also trying to reducing excessive speeds in those locations.

“Again, and I’ve said this time and time again, along with the sewer (rates), this is probably one of the top, if not the top complaint I receive from constituents,” Mr. Britto said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on a main street, a cut-through street or any type of street in the city. And this is a problem we’re not only experiencing here in the city, but this is a problem state-wide, national-wide.”

The Ward 1 rep noted well-documents speed camera problems in places like Providence and Pawtucket, saying, “We can learn from their mistakes…We know at least what to avoid, what not to do.”

He added, “What I’m looking to accomplish here by putting cameras in school zones only, and I want to make sure the public knows it would only be during school time, it would be no different than what the General Assembly has passed. Which means it go would from August 15 to July 1. It would be from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. It would not be on weekends. It would be on holidays or when school’s not in session. And it certainly won’t be in the summertime as well.”

Mr. Britto said any program in this area would include regular updates from the police department along with input from the school department and school committee. Before any final decision is made, he plans at least one public hearing to discuss the matter in greater detail.

Ward 4 Councilor Ricardo Mourato expressed his support of the resolution, saying, “The police can’t be at every single street, every single intersection. It’s just not feasible.”

Mr. Mourato suggested, if possible, to show it’s not a “money grab” any revenue generated be separated from the city’s general fund and earmarked for road safety purposes only.

“I think it’s a good idea and I think we can really expand on it by reinvesting that money into public safety,” Mr. Mourato added.

Asked to speak on that specific element, Assistant City Solicitor Dylan Conley told the council it could put the money in what he called “enterprise or revenue-neutral funds,” but that it needed to be done by ordinance and should be represented annually in the city’s fiscal year budget.

At-Large Councilor Bob Rodericks also signaled his support, saying, “There’s no debate speeding is out of control everywhere. We’re not going to solve it all, but I’m not prepared to not do anything.”

Ms. Sousa’s resolution calls on the General Assembly to expand the state’s speed control legislation and afford municipalities greater latitude to use existing technologies in other locations besides school zones.

Among the potential products Ms. Sousa and the councilors discussed aside from cameras were stop lights that track speed, portable speed bumps that can be strategically placed around the city and enhanced road signage.

In explaining her effort, Ms. Sousa said she’s asking the city’s Assembly contingent to introduce legislation that “would expand upon other safety traffic signaling devices throughout the community that would further help with our traffic safety concerns."

Ms. Sousa noted earlier in the discussion about  the speeding problem, “It’s always a topic of reoccurring discussion throughout the city…It’s something the city needs to answer for to all of the public.”

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