Teenagers Using Closed Road As Their Own "Featherbed"? [poll]
The Town Council looks at options for repairing Featherbed Lane, and what's been happening there in the two years since its closure.
Featherbed Lane has been closed to traffic for nearly two years, but apparently it’s still seeing some activity – according to some neighbors who claim it’s become a magnet for truants and fornicating teenagers.
Last Monday night members of the North Kingstown Town Council, expecting to hear options to repair the dam beneath Featherbed Lane and possibly reopen the road, learned more about what’s been happening on the once-popular cut-through while it remains dormant. The road was closed following the historic March 2010 floods, which damaged the dam and road – prompting town officials to close it to traffic.
Nearby residents are divided over whether the road should reopen, however, as the closure has brought both pros and cons to light. Those in favor of keeping the road closed point to the safety that the closure has provided – as high school students are no longer speeding down the road to and from school. Connecting Hamilton Allenton and Annaquatucket roads, the cut-through became quite popular with commuting high school students.
On the opposite side of the argument, neighbors argue the inconvenience and obstacle of having the road closed puts unnecessary miles on the odometer.
“I find it very disconcerting to have to go an extra mile, especially in this day and age with gas prices going up,” said Featherbed Lane resident Diane Gerzevitz.
Also, the road has become a dumping ground for everything ranging from toilets to beer cans to truants and even teenagers having sex in broad daylight, according to some residents. Both Gervevitz and her neighbor Cathy Manchester both spoke of the behavior.
“I have seen kids, high school kids, having sex when I raise my shade in the morning,” said Manchester. “You walk down to the end of the road and there’s toilets and beer cans.”
Neighbors also warned that reopening the road just to pedestrians would not hinder this behavior.
“If you end up with just a pedestrian bridge in there, you’ll end up with exactly the same thing,” said Gerzevitz.
Consultants from GZA Engineering presented the finds from their study of the road and dam, listing both in poor condition. According to the consultants, the road is filled with sinkholes and suffering from erosion while the culvert beneath the road is in a state of collapse.
The three options range in cost from $434,000 to $695,000:
Option 1, called controlled overtopping, would not allow vehicular access, opening the road solely as a pedestrian bridge. In this scenario, water could flow over the top of the walkway and eliminate a pipe and culvert to carry the water downstream and require the least amount of maintenance from the town. It would also have the least impact on the wetlands. The estimated cost is $657,000.
Option 2, called enlarging and lowering the spillway, would create several openings to let water pass beneath the roadway. These openings could be controlled by a series of “gates” that would be maintained and operated by the Department of Public Works. Option 2 would cost $434,000 for pedestrian access and $551,000 for vehicle access.
Option 3, called partial breach, opens the spillway allowing water to pass more easily and eliminates maintenance requirements for the dam, but would have a large impact on the wetlands and pond. Option 3 would cost $584,000 with pedestrian access and $695,000 with vehicle access.
The council will make its decision at its March 26 meeting.
Which option do you prefer?