Putting Post Road In NK On A Diet?
DOT and North Kingstown officials look at lane reduction on Post Road.
Big changes could be coming to Post Road in North Kingstown in the form of a “diet” courtesy of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
DOT officials are considering reducing part of the roadway from four lanes to three, with two travel lanes in other direction and a center turn lane. The new configuration would span from Maxwell Drive (just north of Camp Avenue) and stretch down to West Main Street at the entrance of Wickford Village. According to DOT officials who presented the plan to the North Kingstown Planning Commission this past Tuesday, this project could be on the docket as soon as next year.
According to North Kingstown Planning Director Jon Reiner, the town has been looking to make changes to that road since before he was hired several years ago. Over the past decade, the town has implemented several initiatives to help foster growth and change to the struggling Post Road area, including a new zoning district (the Post Road Corridor) and the current installation of sewers.
The sewer project, which began last summer, brings forth an opportunity for the town to kill two birds with one stone and make these configuration changes parallel to the sewer project.
Currently, that stretch of Post Road has four, 10-foot-wide lanes which are more narrow than current configuration standards. (Roads are typically 11 feet wide.)
Under the proposed diet, the four travel lanes would be reduces to two (one northbound and one southbound) at 11 feet wide. Additionally, the center turn lane would be 12 feet wide with 3-foot-wide shoulders.
DOT officials said that the new configuration would reduce the number of crashes as there are fewer lanes to cross and keeps speeds more uniform. With the two-lane setup, motorists tend to “jockey” for position with either lane traveling at different speeds. The lane reduction and shoulder expansion would also be safer for pedestrians.
Members of the commission and audience voiced their concern about whether or not this configuration could support the traffic volume in the area. The DOT states that the diet cannot exceed 23,000 vehicles per day. Currently, the north half of the road (from Maxwell Drive to Oakdale Road (just south of the West Bay Family YMCA) sees 21,800 average vehicles each day while the rest of the road (down to West Main Street) has about 19,200 vehicles per day.
NK Town Councilor Kevin Maloney pointed out that figure may jump once a proposed development is built. Reynolds Farm, right across from the entrance to Camp Avenue, could bring 574 residential units and 11,000 sq. ft in commercial space to the area.
“We just installed sewers there to attract business into the area,” said Maloney. “I’m going to assume all these counts are going to go up. I’m concerned that we’re already on the high end of this.”
Commission Chair Gardner “Chip” Palmer and Town Councilor Richard Welch were also worried that traffic may bottleneck at points, especially traffic signals, pointing to the congestion at the intersection of Tower Hill Road and Ten Rod Road near Wickford Village as a prime example.
Commission Member Michael Annarummo believed the diet was a “big improvement” over the current configuration while Jeff Michaelson said it would definitely improve left hand turns onto the roadway.
According to Reiner, the diet would also allow Post Road to support other modes of transportation, including walking and biking.
Post Road would not be the first North Kingstown roadway to get the diet treatment. Back in 2011, the DOT reduced Quaker Lane/South County Trail from four lanes to three, including a center turn lane just like what is proposed for Post Road.