RIDOT plans East Main Road safety audit
By Laura Damon Daily News staff writer
The audit process “will begin by gathering the last five years of crash data. This will help identify any specific intersections or locations to focus on during the study.” [Daily News File Photo]
PORTSMOUTH — There were nearly 300 motor vehicle crashes on East Main Road in 2018, according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and at least 147 have been recorded thus far this year. Residents have voiced their concerns and Portsmouth Police Chief Brian Peters said recently his officers would increase their presence on the road to potentially mitigate some issues.
Now, the state is stepping in.
Following a Portsmouth Town Council resolution that passed in September, which outlined improvement requests for the approximately 8.7-mile road, and a meeting between RIDOT, state and town officials, RIDOT will complete a road safety audit of East Main Road. Councilor Daniela Abbott, who forwarded the resolution, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the audit should be completed by the end of the year.
“We’ve kicked the can down the road for a long time, so I’m happy to see things moving along,” Abbott said during an interview. “Any collaborative effort between the town and RIDOT to try to make some safety improvements on that road is a good step for the town.”
Though progressive, Abbott called the move a “baby step.”
“We have a lot of work ahead,” she added.
Charles St. Martin, chief public affairs officer with RIDOT, said in an email to The Daily News the road safety audit would stretch from Turnpike Avenue south to the Middletown town line. The audit process “will begin by gathering the last five years of crash data. This will help identify any specific intersections or locations to focus on during the study,” St. Martin said.
“The audit includes a one-day review with a multi-disciplinary team of stakeholders — town officials, police and fire representation, along with RIDOT personnel — to review the crash information and discuss the study area. Then, the team goes into the field to personally review intersections or other areas of interest. Following this day, RIDOT will compile the filings into a report that typically identifies any safety concerns and recommendations for short term and long-term solutions under the general categories of engineering improvements, educational outreach, and enforcement, if necessary.”
Sen. James Seveney, D-Portsmouth, who attended the meeting with RIDOT, said Wednesday the state agency will hopefully present its preliminary findings to the Town Council at a November meeting.
“It’s a joint thing,” Seveney said of the audit. “It will involve town folks as well as RIDOT.”
“We’re pushing for a road diet” from Clements’ Marketplace south to the Middletown line, Seveney said. But he acknowledged there are some concerns of traffic congestion that come with a road diet. “So that remains to be seen,” Seveney said. “From my perspective, it would ease a lot of the issues if we could do that.”
Rep. Terri Cortvriend, D-Portsmouth, was also present at the RIDOT meeting.
“I think we were warmly received,” Cortrvriend said of RIDOT. “I got the sense that they were willing to help us.”
Link to article newportri.com