Those who must travel Airport Road to Post Road are likely familiar with the bypass that can be accessed by taking a right onto Evergreen Avenue (near the Park and Ride), taking a left on Pavilion Avenue and then connecting to Post Road through one of the streets in the small residential area, often down Lincoln Avenue, towards the on-ramp for Route 37.
The bypass allows motorists to avoid a good chunk of Airport Road and nearly the entirety of Post Road, which many know all too well for its long line of red brake lights that can extend nearly the entire span of road between the on-ramp and the Airport Road intersection.
But it appears the popular bypass days are numbered. The City Council will vote Monday on a resolution brought forth by Ward 3 Councilman Timothy Howe that will limit access to Evergreen Avenue and effectively block access to Pavilion from those attempting to cut through the residential neighborhood.
“This is to alleviate traffic cutting through Airport Road,” Howe said during the council’s meeting on February 25, when the measure was first brought forward. “It will prevent people not going to local businesses from cutting through that area.”
The resolution required some cleaning up due to a few language inconsistencies, but was slated to go before the public safety committee once again Monday evening. Due to the Beacon’s press deadline, we cannot confirm the resolution will pass as presented, but all signs point to it earning approval at the committee and full council levels.
Specifically, the resolution will enable the city to erect signage and an “island” of sorts to prevent traffic from turning left onto Pavilion once they turn onto Evergreen Avenue – effectively cutting off access to the bypass. Once they are forced to turn around and head back towards Airport Road, they will be met with a “No Left Turn” sign, forcing them to continue west on Airport Road.
The resolution is the result of about two years of planning, including a traffic study conducted by the Warwick Police’s Traffic Division that began in September of 2017, Howe said on Monday. He said that through personal observations of people cutting through the residential area at dangerous speeds and seeing the damage the higher than expected volume of traffic is doing to the roads – in addition to the conclusion of the traffic study – the measure is one that will solve a variety of long-standing issues.
“The traffic is doing a tremendous amount of wear and tear to the roads. We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars a year in repairs,” Howe said. “On top of that, this is a residential area where cars are flying through...This is something that started some years ago.”
In conducting the traffic study, Howe said that business owners located along Evergreen Avenue and Pavilion Avenue were brought into the conversations from the start, and that the resolution will allow for those located on Pavilion Avenue to continue utilizing the cut through.
However, businesses like Michael Gemma’s, who owns Affordable Auto Body on Evergreen Avenue, will no longer be able to utilize the bypass, and will have to make the loop out to Airport Road and through Post Road.
“I really do sympathize with the neighbors because I know what the traffic is like, but I wonder if there is another way,” Gemma said during the Feb. 25 meeting. “I’m concerned about the effects on my business.”
The owners of a catering business located on the corner of Pavilion and Evergreen were also concerned with the language of the resolution, saying it would “be almost forcing us to take our big trucks through the neighborhood.” Howe said he would continue to meet with any businesses that have concerns.
“I understand it will maybe add another level of driving, but we're trying to preserve a residential neighborhood and preserve it in the long term,” Howe said. “But it's also about the safety of the neighborhood.”
Jim Degman, a resident of the neighborhood, spoke up during the Feb. 25 meeting in support of the initiative, as he had been trying to get some form of solution to the problem for 12-14 years. He mentioned seeing the same types of vehicles – Warwick sanitation trucks, large trucks from local businesses and thousands of passenger vehicles by the day – and even the minor inconvenience he will face by being unable to access his own neighborhood will be worth it.
“I'm going to have to drive around and it doesn’t bother me a bit,” he said. “It's great for the neighborhood, and that's all I have to say.”
A separate resolution will allow the city to erect signage preventing cars traveling east on Airport Road from taking a left turn onto Evergreen, which the language of the resolution cites as an obvious traffic and safety issue.