The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will be trying a new lane configuration on Quaker Lane, switiching it from four lanes to three later this summer. The road will have two travel lanes and one center turning lane from the Exit 6 Park and Ride to Ten Rod Road.
Originally, as traffic volumes have declined in the past few decades. The move is also aimed at detering speeders. After a May 24 meeting organized by U.S. Rep. James Langevin between the DOT and local business owners, the DOT decided to test out three lanes for a few weeks.
“We’ll go back and get feedback after the trial period and hopefully move on to final paving in the fall,” said Bryan Lucier, spokesman for DOT.
Following the announcement of the lane reduction, business owners and residents voiced concerns regarding the possible impacts of the reduction.
“Some of the businesses thought they would go out of business if we did this and that’s not what we wanted to do,” said Lucier. “We don’t want to jump in and adversely affect anyone.”
One of the biggest topics of concern is the incoming , which will include a 1,100-space parking garage.
“People aren’t going to want to sit in traffic [leaving the parking garage],” said James Grundy, a North Kingstown resident and member of the town Planning Commission. “I think a lot of people who are heading to Route 4 north are going to be going down Quaker Lane.”
“People are going to start using this road more and more with the train station coming in,” said Michael Bestwick, a member of the North Kingstown Town Council and owner of . During a meeting last month, the Town Council unanimously said it would like to see the road remain four lanes.
Another component of the discussion is , which plans to move to a Construction has already started on the multimillion-dollar complex.
“What I’m concerned about is having a busy Saturday and a bunch of customers coming in for an oil change,” said Ed Tarbox. “It could be treacherous for one of my customers trying to turn into traffic.
Despite the apprehension, Bob Smith of DOT said he believes locals may warm up to the idea of a two-lane road as they have in other communities where roads have seen lane reductions — Hartford Avenue in Johnston, for example.
“In those communities, there was a bit of apprehension in the beginning,” said Smith. “Afterward, people were very satisfied with the result.”
Quaker Lane was also targeted for its deteriorating pavement (which Smith says has become progressively worse in the past year) and because of its narrow lanes.
“The lanes are very narrow and don’t really function as four lanes,” said Smith. “The road just isn’t wide enough to have four lanes.”
A two-lane scenario would result in 12-foot lanes and eight-foot shoulders, which would be more “bicycle tolerant” and friendlier for pedestrians.