Town officials have new plan for Mowry Road

Town officials have new plan for Mowry Road

A Google Earth image taken in 2012 shows the wide entrance and then the narrowing of the road at the intersection of Route 7 and Mowry Road in North Smithfield.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Officials say they’ve come up with a new solution for traffic on Mowry Road, one they hope will finally restore peace in the neighborhood.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski worked with representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to come up with a design plan for the small country road running from Route 7 to Tarkiln Road in Burrillville, which officials say will reduce incidents of speeding. The road features a 96-foot-wide entrance that quickly narrows to 15 feet.

“It’s a very narrow street, and actually, its history is that it was a driveway to a former mill,” said Ezovski, noting that from Route 7 going north, drivers “don’t make a turn onto Mowry Road. It’s better described as a course correction. They enter the road at whatever speed they were going on Route 7, and it’s too fast.”

The problem has plagued property owner Jason Richer since he purchased his home at the intersection of the two streets in 2012, with vehicles often driving on portions of his property or sometimes crashing onto his land. Richer brought the problem to the North Smithfield Town Council in 2014 and ultimately convinced the board to turn Mowry into a one-way road.

But neighbors, who said they were not informed the town was considering the change, protested the action, with some 300 of them signing a petition against the move. In 2015, it was discovered that authorities in Burrillville were not aware of North Smithfield’s plans for the road, which runs primarily through the neighboring town, and the council’s resolution designating Mowry a one-way was reversed.

“We wound up in an uncomfortable discussion with the neighbors in Burrillville,” Ezovski said.

Richer’s response to the problem over time has made him unpopular with many in the neighborhood, who have complained about items he has placed in the roadway, and cameras he’s installed to catch speeders. Richer, at one point, placed large barrels in the roadway to slow traffic, and currently has rocks and stakes lining the road, with some also covering the paved portion. Neighbors allege that the stakes have damaged their vehicles.

“There have been some reactions by one private property owner that some may criticize, but the issue is the speed and the width of the roadway,” said Ezovski while presenting his five-point solution to the problem to the council last week.

A design plan prepared by McMahon Transportation Engineers and Planners would see reconfiguration of the problemed intersection and a widening of some portions of the road.

The administrator said that a short section of the roadway can be widened on the south side by two or three feet.

Ezovski said a weight limit would also be placed on Mowry, limiting truck travel.

“When you get a tractor trailer that comes through or any vehicle larger than the size of a pickup, it becomes a problem,” he said.

The town would also petition the RIDOT to add signage on both the north and south bound sides of Route 7 warning drivers to slow down.

At least initially, the idea seems popular with both sides.

“We’re a small community and it’s been like a battle zone,” said resident Sheila Williams, who has been at the forefront of a fight against turning the road into a one-way, the option initially favored by Richer. “I think what they’re saying might be reasonable solution. It sounds like it might be a decent solution, but I want to look at it more closely.”

Of adding a weight limit, Williams added, “That would be a good idea.”

Ezovski had sent letters to many of the residents requesting potential ideas, and Williams noted of the administrator, “at least he’s responding to the fact that none of us wanted it a one way. I have to give him credit there.”

Richer noted that he would need to donate close to 1,000 square feet of his property to accomplish the new design.

“I am willing to do that and more to correct this unsafe situation,” he said. “I’d welcome the three changes I heard suggested, but I’m hopeful more can be done to make the road more safe for pedestrians and cyclists as well.”

Ezovski said he has made Burrillville Town Manager Mike Wood aware of the potential plans.

“We won’t be spending a lot of money,” he said of the solution.

Councilor Paul Zwolenski noted that some sort of solution needs to be implemented soon.

“It’s those varying widths that we have to deal with,” Zwolenski said. “I’m looking forward to a public hearing to see that we have safety. People just fly down that road. There has to be some sort of deceleration going on.”

A public hearing on the proposed solution will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and all parties said they plan to attend.

Editor's note: The above article has been edited to reflect that RIDOT hopes to widen Mowry Road using land from the southern side of the street. The original version of the story quoted Ezovski identifying lad on the west side of the road, but he has since retracted the statement. The date of the public hearing has also been corrected. The original story stated that the hearing would be held February 19.

Comments

There are two items in this article I would like to correct. One is mine and one the Breeze. I referenced the widening to be done on the west side of Mowry which is not correct. I set north based on the north south travel route that is route 7. The widening is proposed for the south side of Mowry Road.
Sorry for that confusion.
Also, the public hearing is currently planned for Feb 20 and not the 19th as listed. The council meeting normally would be on Monday but the 19th is President's Day.
Gary Ezovski

The requested corrections have been made above.

Thank you Mr. Ezovski for taking this issue seriously. It's been 6 years in the making. Was never really an issue until the new resident moved in. Looking forward to the much needed improvements, they are certainly needed and welcomed.

I'll give you even more credit once the rubber hits the road and words become action.

Thank you.

The aerial photo at the top of the article is from 2016 not 2012 as indicated.

I initially contacted the Town about the road issue in 2013, not 2014. This was only 5 months after I moved in.
Here is an article in the Valley Breeze in Sept of 2013 that speaks of the problem.

http://www.valleybreeze.com/2013-09-11/woonsocket-north-smithfield/north...

When I first contacted the Town about this issue, it fell on deaf ears. My request was not for a one way but rather for the solution we are now considering. I had asked that the intersection be narrowed to eliminate the highway exit configuration in order to make it more perpendicular to Route 7, effectively slowing traffic that is entering.

When the Town did not respond, I contacted RIDOT. They investigated the situation and RIDOT then sent a recommendation to Administrator Hamilton to make Mowry Rd a one way. I did not petition the Town for the one way as has been repeated many times. The one way was suggested to me and I had no objections to it as it required no physical changes and the cost was limited to the installation of a few signs.

I am very appreciative of the effort Administrator Ezovski has put into identifying a solution
that will satisfy most everyone. I am very much looking forward to this being rectified.

With all the speeding issues being resolved in town on Old Smithfield Rd, Mowry Rd. Maybe someday the town BRASS will DO something about the SPEEDING problem on Saint Paul St. One can only HOPE !!!!!!!!

This statement is flat out wrong.

"In 2015, it was discovered that authorities in Burrillville were not aware of North Smithfield’s plans for the road"

The Town of Burrillville was informed by the N Smithfield Town Council of the suggested change. Burrillville had their Police Department investigate the situation and they concurred with the One Way plan.

A Valley Breeze article from April 2015 states the following:

"In an email between Wood and Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton dated Dec. 11, 2014, Wood writes "Paulette, the Town Council voted last night to receive and file, which means they have no objection as a board to the proposed change. Our police department is in support of the change as well."

Article can be found here: http://www.valleybreeze.com/2015-04-22/woonsocket-north-smithfield/neigh...

Also note another quote in the article above:

"Documents on the issue in North Smithfield show that the Department of Transportation recommended the change after Richer notified them of the problem."

I had mentioned in my previous comment, the one way suggestion came from RIDOT and WAS NOT "the option initially favored by Richer" as mentioned here in this newest article.

I agree that the Mowry Road issue is truly a long standing hazardous issue. But the complaints of other residents including Smithfield Road are simply by products of the increase of vehicles on the roads today. I couldn’t help but surmise that the next complaints will be coming from residents on Sayles hill Road. Traffic going South from 146 is very busy during the morning commute. Four lanes have to merge into two where Eddie Dowling Highway and 146 meet. The congestion has caused those familiar with the area to create a fifth lane to take Sayles Hill Road thus avoiding the congestion and taking the to the light on Iron Mine Hill Rd. Should they be afforded the same benefit afforded the residents of Smithfield Rd and make the road only available to Sayles Hill residents? The reality is that we have to come to terms with is that we are surrounded and part of growing communities. Our focus needs to be one that looks at seeing the big picture and work toward solving the problems in a less piecemeal way. Otherwise we should think of blocking all our streets and creating parking lots for all residents that want to enjoy what was. We can t move forward without inconvenience.