Aquidneck Island Traffic Study

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Mar

Aquidneck Island Traffic Study

I happened upon another blog posting stating that:

Tina Dolen, the Executive Director of the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, announced that they had secured $500K from RIDOT for a “holistic,” island-wide traffic study.

“We made proposal to RIDOT to conduct a corridor study,” said Dolen, “A comprehensive analysis of how traffic moves across this island, as well as making sure that it flows.” And she promised that two items of interest to Portsmouth would be fast-tracked: the Town Center and the potential impact of Burma Road.

If there ever was a time to impact cycling on Aquidneck island, now might be our chance.  Any cyclists living down there looking for an advocacy project?  I’m concerned about the “potential impact on Burma Road” comment.  This is the only decent road for bicycles traveling the length of the island, are they going to shunt more traffic down there?  Apparently they are already planning to reconfigure some striping along East Main Road:

Citing the “success of the restriping of Turnpike Avenue,” Smith described a reconfigured East Main Road that would be two 12-foot travel lanes, with a 12-foot center turning lane, and 2-foot shoulders. Not only would it be safer for pedestrians, who would have less live traffic lanes to cross, but it would help reduce the rear-end collisions which make up the majority of accidents on that stretch. And since it’s just a matter of removing the current lane markings, it could be done fairly quickly.

Naturally, there is no mention of bicycle safety.  It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden either East or West Main and I don’t remember there being a shoulder at all, but two feet sounds pretty narrow for a road where cars are traveling at speed.  By law, all road projects conducted by RIDOT must attempt to accommodate bicycles.

16 thoughts on - Aquidneck Island Traffic Study

  • David Andrews
    Reply Mar 27, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I am nolonger NBW club president but, a bike lane needs to be four feet and on a main road should be five. The traffic controls will need to accomedate cyclists also. Share the road signage does not help. Burma rd is OK if the speeds are kept at 35mph. w/stripping. East & West main have no breakdown lane, it's curb to curb. Many cars have flats after hitting the curb. I know I have change many a tire for AAA.

  • Sondra Spencer
    Reply Apr 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    One of my biggest concerns about restriping East Main Rd is that it will send more traffic onto the less main roads, many of the roads we (at least those of us who live here on Aquidneck Island) consider safe to bike on. Few of these 'good bike route' roads have shoulders or adequate bike lanes, but the traffic is currently light enough, and they have reasonably low speed limits (25mph) – which could sometimes use more enforcement to curb the chronic speeding problems.

    The Turnpike Avenue restriping 'worked so well' that I have altered my commute to Bristol by taking East Main Rd all the way to Boyd's Lane instead of taking Turnpike to Bristol Ferry.

    Will restriping East Main Rd result in a significant traffic increase on Middle Rd and Wapping Rd / Mitchell's Lane?? Can the police depts adequately patrol these roads to ensure they aren't speedways? By speeding, I'm not talking about 35 in a 25 zone, I'm talking about 45 and 50 in a 25 zone. I can only imagine that this problem would be exponentially greater.

  • Reply Apr 21, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Aquidneck Island requires several bicycling infrastructure changes to be compliant with existing laws. But one would be very easy. Restripe East Main Road in Portsmouth and Middletwon into a 2-lane road with adequate shoulders. Let bulk of traffic be absorbed by West Main Road, perhaps even widen it into a highway in line with Rt 24. Once done, also designate side streets as a triangle among Sakonnet Bridge (with its planned bike crossing), Mt. Hope Bridge and Quaker Hill.

    This attention on Burma Rd, already okay to ride on, disturbs me when there are other pressing priorities. Downtown Newport is practically hopeless, with tourists riubbernecking on narrow streets. Yet some parking restrictions downtown, free secure remote parking lots, and trolley connections would somewhat open most congested areas for bicyclists and pedestrians.

    As always, it comes down to a handful of really bad intersections and short, unbikeable segments, which collectively make for bike routing nightmares. Slow down East Main Rd, one of RI's most dangerous high speed stretches, and everyone will benefit, including motorists.

  • Sondra Spencer
    Reply Apr 22, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Major problem I have with your comments, Alan, is "Let bulk of traffic be absorbed by West Main Road, perhaps even widen it into a highway in line with Rt 24". The traffic won't be LET to go onto West Main Rd, it will go wherever the driver chooses as an alternate route. That will most likely result in much more traffic in the areas where we like to bike (there are many of us here who like to bike on Aquidneck Island), and then there will be nowhere to bike here. It will all be bad. Reducing lanes of traffic will not reduce the number of cars coming on and off the island, it will just distribute it differently, not all good. As another poster mentioned, Burma Rd may become much busier. When there was a serious pedestrian accident in the afternoon a couple of years ago, perhaps at 2:30 or so, ALL traffic around here was at a standstill, West Main Rd could not handle it.

    Again, these 'traffic calming' attempts at the routes most commonly used to get on and off the island is most likely to result in the traffic just going somewhere else, in areas that are mostly residential and currently are bikeable.

    Sondra

  • Dan Force
    Reply Apr 25, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I don’t believe that ALL of East Main Rd. in Portsmouth is going to be restriped. According to an article in the 24 April ProJo (East Bay section), they’re only talking about converting the section NORTH of Turnpike to two lanes (that road is referred to as Chases Lane on some maps). That doesn’t really contribute to safer bicycling.

    [quote=Providence Journal]“A letter to DOT director Michael Lewis from state Representatives John J. Loughlin and Joseph N. Amaral, both Republicans, and state Sen. Charles J. Levesque, a Democrat, says they back a request from the town of Portsmouth that the state repaint East Main Road north of Turnpike Avenue and cut the number of lanes to two from four.”[/quote] [url ]http://www.projo.com/ri/portsmouth/content/EB_PORTEASTMAIN25_04-25-08_DU9TEDP_v8.15b66e2.html[/url]

    Dan Force

    Portsmouth

  • Dan Force
    Reply Apr 25, 2008 at 6:47 am

    I don’t believe that ALL of East Main Rd. in Portsmouth is going to be restriped. According to an article in the 24 April ProJo (East Bay section), they’re only talking about converting the section NORTH of Turnpike to two lanes (that road is referred to as Chases Lane on some maps). That doesn’t really contribute to safer bicycling.

    [quote=Providence Journal]“A letter to DOT director Michael Lewis from state Representatives John J. Loughlin and Joseph N. Amaral, both Republicans, and state Sen. Charles J. Levesque, a Democrat, says they back a request from the town of Portsmouth that the state repaint East Main Road north of Turnpike Avenue and cut the number of lanes to two from four.”[/quote] http://www.projo.com/ri/portsmouth/content/EB_POR
    Dan Force

    Portsmouth.

  • Dan Force
    Reply Apr 25, 2008 at 10:21 am

    That should be CHASE Rd. vice "Chases Lane."

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • Reply Apr 29, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    There should be a highway between RT 24 and Town Center, so motorists can bypass most of island and expediently get onto Newport Bridge. This would immediately calm rest of Island's roads. Only a highway would support the kinds of speeds that tourists deserve. As it stands, drivers use every road because West Main Rd isn't up to handling its traffic demands.

    Portsmouth and Middletown persist in maintaining a public safety hazard in the name of East Main Road, where 30 years ago I witnessed a fatal, high speed, head-on collision between passenger cars, sadly, not an isolated incident. Since then, nothing at all has been done to improve safety. You still have stone walls which block drivers' visibility of oncoming traffic, narrow lanes without dividers, no shoulders to allow them to ease out, and nothing to calm 70 mph traffic. It's a recipe for tragedy that's been mercilessly cooked countless times. How many more people have to die before traffic planners wake up? Roads with 4 lanes, no shoulders, undivided, unobstructed access have been proven to be death traps. Hardly a year goes by that we don't hear of another collision fatality there.

    Cyclists argue that calming all roads would be in their best interests. Why not just raise the price of gasoline to $40/galllon? That would work even better, but it's unrealistic. One must compromise. I'm willing to accept a bicycling ban AS LONG AS there are adjacent bikelanes or bikeways, or nearby, unbroken parallels, which are shoveled and swept SAME AS banned roads. I will never accept closed bridges, multilane intersections, or rail corridors which completely cut off cycling. It's illegal and need not be tolerated.

    It's laughable to me how Islanders complain about a few cars on an obscure stretch, while I'm riding every day in major congested travel lanes dodging busses and tractor trailers on route through Providence. You can't ride through this state without somehow passing through its capitol. Meanwhile, Providence city planners and RIDOT closed bike access to Washington Bridge, forgot about the closed Division Street bridge in Pawtucket, and plan to deny access to the only other way across the Seekonk River, the Henderson. No motorist would tolerate this detour! They could have easily, even temporarily, spanned the short distance between Bold Point and India Park, but bicyclists get absolutely no consideration. They leave segments of bikeways closed or uncompleted for years or decades, when it'd be no big cost or deal to finish compared to highway construction. Between the I-way and Quonset connector overruns, there's no money left.

    I want immediate compliance in Providence. I only engaged in this conversation because bike planning everywhere ought to equally suit local need. A few minor restripings of roads would make Aquidneck much more bikeable, whereas the entire roadnet of Providence is a bicycling nightmare. I forwarded a low cost, easily implemented, on street, well received plan 4 years ago. Lipservice is all I got for my efforts. Things are so bad here, city firemen and police haven't had a contract renewal in over 5 years. About the only thing you can do is move to some idyllic island and stay away. Unfortunately, many of my clients are not moving to Aquidneck, but out of state entirely.

  • Dan Force
    Reply May 14, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Wow! Maybe the bridge will be done just in time to connect to the Aquidneck Island bike trail.

    Mid-2012 opening likely for new Sakonnet bridge.

    By Marcia Pobzeznik

    Newport Daily News correspondent

    TIVERTON — Construction of a new bridge over the Sakonnet River is not expected to begin until the spring of 2009, with a completion date of mid- to late 2012.

    The replacement of the existing span with a new $150 million bridge is “a top priority,” Michael P. Lewis, director of the state Department of Transportation, said during a meeting Monday in Tiverton.

    The existing 2,900-foot-long bridge, which officials said is deteriorating in some spots at a rate of 17 percent a year, will continue to be inspected annually, with “critical components” inspected every six months, said Vartan Sahakian, an engineer with Commonwealth Engineering. He was one of five engineers who attended the meeting with the newly appointed Tiverton Sakonnet River Bridge Steering Committee to discuss specific design criteria for the Tiverton side of the bridge.

    Sahakian said a report on the most recent inspection should be ready in a week or two, and if engineers find there is a need to further reduce the 22-ton weight limit of the four-lane bridge that carries traffic along Route 24 between Tiverton and Portsmouth, it would be reduced by a few tons.

    Much of the discussion between the DOT and Steering Committee focused on the 500-foot-long earthen berm that would be built on the Tiverton side to replace superstructure at a savings of some $16 million.

    How the 40-foot-high berm, which would measure 180 feet across at its widest point, should be landscaped is one of the outstanding issues.

    “We want to make sure what we are putting in the contract is what the community wants,” said Kazem Farhoumand, acting chief engineer for the DOT.

    The slope could be seeded and planted with grass, but it also could be terraced and planted with bushes. Alleviating maintenance is important to the DOT, Farhourmand said.

    Residents have indicated to state officials that they want plantings that are low to the ground because trees could entice children to climb them and play on the terraced areas, said Thomas Cunningham, an engineer with Commonwealth Engineering.

    A terraced bank could be harder to maintain because litter would collect on the different levels, as opposed to a grassy slope that could just be mowed, said Stephen Berlucchi, director of the town’s Department of Public Works.

    The depth of the two retention ponds worried Planning Board Chairman Noel Berg, who said he would like to see fencing around the ponds that would be on each side of the berm.

    One pond would be 5½ feet deep and the other would be 3½ feet deep, Cunningham said. The DOT would maintain them, Farhoumand said.

    The number of truckloads of soil that would be required to build the berm was of special interest to Hank Curran, a resident who lives within 1,000 feet of the existing span.

    Some 84,000 cubic yards of soil would be required to build the berm. That equates to 3,230 tractor-trailer truckloads. If smaller, 10-wheel trucks were used, it would require 4,670 loads, or about seven an hour for several months, Cunningham said. Curran wanted to know if the loads would be tamped as they’re delivered, because stockpiling them would increase the amount of dust in the area. He was told the plan is to use the loads as they arrive.

    No decisions were made Monday by the Steering Committee; members will have a separate meeting to discuss the issues before they meet again with the state, according to Acting Town Administrator James Goncalo. That meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

    Send e-mail to correspondent Marcia Pobzeznik at Pobzeznik@NewportRI.com.

  • Dan Force
    Reply Aug 11, 2008 at 7:16 am

    I have a suspicion that impending development of land acquired by the towns from the Navy will mark the beginning of the end of a little island secret. I’m talking about Burma Road. For decades the road has been an unknown straight-through scenic bypass around the congested, poorly maintained West Main Road in north Middletown and south Portsmouth. Additionally, the road is a popular and safe route for bicyclists as it is one of the only roads on the island with a shoulder specifically designated for bicycles. Eventually the bucolic waterfront scenery will be replaced by housing and businesses.

    The development will surely bring increased traffic, additional cross streets, and traffic lights. It will likely become as congested as West Main Road. As for a corridor for bicycles, the talk of a bike path along the west side is ineffectual. There has been “talk” of a path for more than a decade yet no progress beyond a concept. Hopefully the town will make an effort to ensure that some of the rural nature of Burma Road will maintained.

  • Reply Aug 11, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I'd choose returning East Main Rd to 2 lanes from 4 dangerous high speeds lanes without shoulders over preserving Burma Road, a bit of discontinuous route bicyclists and bike advocates have always favored. Going way out of my way for a bit of western overlook might be swell, but then you get Coddington Hgwy and Naval base between you and Newport.

    The problem with Aquidneck Is has never been a direct bottom-to-top route that supports cycling. This is just awful, since ALL roads on the island, by law, are supposed to support bicycling and pedestrians. There are no banned interstates, so a 6' shoulder and sidewalks are minimally required.

  • Dan Force
    Reply Aug 12, 2008 at 11:51 am

    From top to bottom it is possible…heading south…once you get to Burma Rd. Since Navy housing was turned over to a commercial company a couple years ago, you can now go through the Navy’s Coddington Cove housing to Coddington Hwy. Granted, Coddington Hwy doesn’t have a lane for bikes, but it is much safer than East or West Main Road.

    Dan

  • Reply Aug 13, 2008 at 4:27 am

    I’d choose returning East Main Rd to 2 lanes from 4 dangerous high speeds lanes without shoulders over preserving Burma Road, a bit of discontinuous route bicyclists and bike advocates have always favored. Going way out of my way for a bit of western overlook might be swell, but then you get Coddington Hgwy and Naval base between you and Newport.

    Why choose one over the other? I too am concerned about the upcoming development along Burma road. The cycling community definitely needs to keep our eyes on the plans and make sure we are represented. We should push hard on the town to make sure that bicycles are accommodated along Burma road as they make infrastructure changes.

  • Dan Force
    Reply Aug 13, 2008 at 6:12 am

    As part of the turn over of the land, the Navy did suggest that the bike path on the west side of the island be completed. But that's just a suggestion and nothing the towns have to promise. But the thing I enjoy about Burma Rd. is its lack of traffic, and traffic lights. I work on the Navy base and take lunchtime workout rides on Burma a couple times per week. It's great since there are no stoplights. But once the development comes…even if there are accomodations for bikes…it is going to interupt the non-stop nature of the road when traffic lights and intersections are added.

    Dan

  • Reply Aug 15, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Burma Rd lacks traffic because it's a road to nowhere. East Main Rd, on the other hand, is the spine of the island, connects to Mt Hope and Sakonnet Bridges, and allows you to use quiet Middle Rd for awhile. You can't get to these main island features from Burma Rd, at least not conveniently. And IT IS THE LAW that they have to accommodate cycling on ALL roads, not just Burma, or provide a nearby alternative. If parts of East Main Rd had adjacent bike paths, or wide shoulders, you could ride all the way to the Newport border without much difficulty.

  • Dan Force, Portsmout
    Reply Dec 3, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Correct me if I’m misinformed, but aren’t there laws (in RI) requiring consideration for bicycles when roadways and bridges are rebuild? On Aquidneck Island (Portsmouth) the northernmost section of Route 138 (aka East Main Road and Chase Road) was recently converted from 4 lanes to 2 lanes divided by a left turn lane. But when they restriped, the center turn lane was made considerable wider than what is needed. Before, there was absolutely no excess shoulder space to allow for bikes. Now, there is some allowance for bikes but in several areas it is only one or two feet. If they would have minimized the size of the turn lane they could have achieved sufficient space for a legitimate bike lane. The turn lane actually appears to be wider than the travel lanes. So, I guess my question is: When a road is restriped from 4 lanes to 2 plus a turn lane, does that constituted reconstruction and require consideration for bikes?

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