The Department of Transportation is going to put three Warwick roads on a diet.
That’s right, they plan to reduce sections of four-lane highways down to three lanes in a move to improve safety. The three-lane roads will offer wider travel lanes, expanded shoulders and a center lane for vehicles make a left turn.
Two miles of Elmwood Avenue from Post Road in Warwick to Park Avenue in Cranston is one of the longest stretches to be put on the DOT slim down plan. Other state highways in Warwick to be put on the diet are Post Road in Greenwood from the Apponaug Circulator north to the Greenwood Bridge and Greenwich Avenue from Luther Avenue near the circulator to the Crowne Plaza.
Many of the roads the DOT has targeted to slim down were main thoroughfares carrying more traffic than they do today, explained DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin. He said with the development of Route 95, the roads are no longer major arteries. The “diet list” Warwick roads accommodate 8,000 to 12,000 vehicles a day, making them eligible to become two travel lanes with a center turning lane.
When traffic counts get up to 20,000 a day, St. Martin said, “we wouldn’t do it.”
“It’s safer,” St. Martin said of the redesigned highways. “The left turn [vehicles] have a refuge instead of people having to go around them.” Wider shoulders and travel lanes also work to enhance the safety of traveling vehicles and those walking alongside the road. St. Martin said designated bicycle paths are not planned on the three roads at this time, although widening of road shoulders should make it safer for cyclists not to mention joggers.
St. Martin said the narrowing of Post Road in North Kingstown from Quonset to the Wickford barracks and that section of Route 2 by Allie’s Donuts that has experienced a reduction in traffic resulting from Route 4 has improved conditions, in his opinion. The Post Road stretch that formerly offered four tight lanes makes for less stressful travel, he said.
There’s more to putting a road on a diet than repainting a few lines. St. Martin estimated the work to be done in Warwick to cost about $500,000 per road. A good portion of the expense relates to work to be done at traffic signals.
St. Martin said work to convert that section of Greenwich Avenue and Post Road would be done this summer. The conversion should take only a couple of weeks. A timetable hasn’t been established for Elmwood Avenue.
St. Martin agreed there are some roads, like Main Avenue from Greenwich Avenue to the Greenwood Bridge that really weren’t designed for four travel lanes. Because of the volume of traffic, St. Martin said, the section of Main Avenue couldn’t be put on a diet. The option is to make it fatter, but “that’s not something we’re proposing to do right now,” he said.