Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DOT ANSWERS: Work on Route 7, 15 intersection being re-done


DOT ANSWERS: Work on Route 7, 15 intersection being re-done
The Providence Journal – June 24, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe


Q: The intersection of Route 7 and Route 15 in North Providence was recently widened, repaved and re-striped to provide for a left-turn lane on Route 7 South. Shortly afterward the pavement was replaced again. When will it be fixed, striped and sensors replaced?
   — LR Berendes

   A: The intersection that you mention was widened as part of the development of the northwest corner of Routes 7 and 15 for a home-improvement store.
   Upon inspection of the quality of the pavement, the department determined that the quality of the material did not meet our standards. We required the developer to remove it and provide new pavement in its place.
   During construction, the traffic signals vehicle detectors in the pavement did not function properly as there was no road surface to   embed them in. This was true for pavement markings as well. Construction was completed last spring.
   During construction RIDOT worked very hard to keep inconvenience to a minimum and make construction conditions as temporary as possible.

   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general   interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.
   Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding.
   The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways.
   To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  cars@providencejournal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.
   Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.  
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DOT ANSWERS: Providence pedestrian signals are too quick


DOT Answers: Providence pedestrian signals are too quick
The providence Journal-June 17, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe
 
Q: I am writing to you about the City of Providence’s crosswalks and traffic lights. Why is it that when a pedestrian presses the crosswalk button, they are prompted to walk while the traffic lights simultaneously enable cars to proceed with a left turn arrow?
   Also, why does the straight-on traffic light turn green within seconds of the walk light enabling? This is not enough time. Shouldn’t the traffic be totally stopped for a reasonable amount of time while a pedestrian crosses? Specific examples are crossing from Gaspee Street over to Smith Street.   State Street traffic gets a green light to turn left onto Smith Street while pedestrians get a walk signal at the same time. The same is true for motorists who are taking a left turn from North Main Street up to Smith Street. Also, specifically, when I try to cross Smith Street and Canal Street, I get seconds to cross before the light turns green for four lanes of traffic.
   Bonnie N.

   A: The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) sets regulations and makes recommendations as to   which devices, such as signs, pavement markings or signals, can be used on public roads.
   The current manual does not allow a green traffic signal arrow to show at the same time a pedestrian is allowed to cross a street when a pedestrian signal head is in use.
   It is permissible, however, to allow pedestrians to cross when vehicles traveling in the same direction of the crossing have a green light. This allows for a more efficient traffic circulation and assures that pedestrians are not exposed to through traffic.  
   According to RI Law 31-17-2, Vehicle Turning Left or Right, drivers, “shall yield to a pedestrian intending to cross within a crosswalk which the driver of the vehicle must travel to make the left or right turn.”
   When a pedestrian gets the okay to cross the street a   white symbol of a walker is shown on the pedestrian traffic sign. A red flashing hand is then shown several seconds later. This symbol blinks continuously and while it is flashing pedestrians can continue crossing the street. A solid red hand means pedestrians are no longer allowed to cross. Instead they should press the pedestrian signal activation button and wait for the walker symbol to appear before attempting to cross the street.
   Additionally, RIDOT recently extended the timing for the pedestrian signals on Smith Street at North Main Street and Canal Street and at State Street and Gaspee Street. It is unclear as to exactly which signals you are referring to and therefore some of them may be under the City of Providence’s jurisdiction.  

   Right-turn lane
   Q: Heading west on Route 5 at the junction with Route 2 North in Cranston there is a curved turn lane with a stoplight. Some drivers treat the light, when red, as a caution light and do not stop. Is my understanding correct that a stop is necessary at the intersection prior to making the right on red? If so, perhaps appropriate signage would prevent someone from inadvertently getting a ticket for running a red light.
   Paul C.
   A: Paragraph three of the RI Law 31-13-6,   Specifications and Meaning of Traffic Lights states that a vehicle is permitted to turn right when facing a red traffic signal after coming to a complete stop and only when it is safe to turn right.
   In the particular case that you mention, the right turn lane does not have a traffic signal controlling vehicles facing traffic on Route 5 northbound. Drivers wanting to turn right at this location must yield to traffic that is already on New London Avenue.

   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.
   Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding.  
   The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways.
   To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  cars@providencejour  nal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.
   Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.




DOT ANSWERS: North Kingston lights across Route 4 are OK


DOT Answers: North Kingston lights across Route 4 are OK
The Providence Journal-June 11, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe

 
Q: Is there any discussion about better coordinating the two lights in North Kingstown at Oak Hill Road and West Allenton Road that cross Route 4? I’m sure my fellow R.I. drivers would agree that it’s frustrating to sit in Route 4 northbound and southbound traffic and watch as eastbound and westbound crossing traffic crosses the road. This is compounded during morning and evening rush hours, as well as Friday and Sunday evenings in the summertime. Route 4 is the major artery to R.I. beaches, and the South County area is growing in popularity.
   — Charlie S.
   A: A RIDOT engineer has reviewed the operation and programming of the traffic signals on Route 4 at West Allenton and at Oak Hill Roads. The signals were found to be programmed properly and functioning normally.
   The timing plan in place in the Route 4 corridor gives priority to the mainline traffic during both the commuter peaks and the seasonal beach traffic periods, however, there is a physical limit to how much traffic a signal can process. This limit is mostly related to the number of lanes.
   The maximum number of cars that can get through these traffic signals is around 1,000 vehicles per hour per lane. Typically when traffic demand is more than 1,000 vehicles an hour there is a need for two lanes at a traffic signal. If demand is more than 2,000 vehicles an hour the need calls for three lanes.
   Freeways such as Route 4 to the north and Route 138 to the east can bring traffic to the corridor at flow rates as high as 2,200 vehicles per hour per lane. Traffic volumes in the corridor can exceed 2,400 vehicles per hour during the commuter and beach travel periods.  
   When construction is to blame
   Q: Over the years you have answered many questions regarding traffic lights that no longer work properly. You often state the problem was previous construction in the area that damaged the in-pavement traffic detectors. This requires someone to be sent to the site, investigate and then schedule a repair at some point in the future. Why can’t the DOT include a standard clause in all its contracts for road repair? The standard clause could include some statement that the company completing the repairs must submit proof that the traffic lights are in proper working order after the work has been completed. And if they are not, the company must pay for the repairs before the contract is considered complete and final payment is made. This would seem to be an easy fix to a problem that, based on the volume of complaints you receive, is a common one.
   — Ken L.
   A: Vehicle loop detectors set into the pavement are the standard by which all other detection technologies are judged. They are accurate and reliable. They generally have the same life as the pavement unless they are damaged by road and utility construction. The   Department’s Standard Specifications require all contractors to restore detectors damaged by construction activities within 30 calendar days.
   Department field personnel try very hard to ensure signal operations are restored as quickly as possible on DOT administered projects.
   Designers and contractors for utility and private development projects may not always be aware that their trenching, patching and paving activities can damage intersection detectors. When the detectors are damaged by these activities, the Standard Specifications referenced in the Utility and Physical Alteration Permits must still be followed. The Department actively pursues the owners of these projects for corrective action.
   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.
   Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding.
   The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways.
   To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  cars@providencejournal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.
   Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.

DOT ANSWERS: Atwood Avenue traffic signal, Route 6 East, Johnston


DOT ANSWERS
Providence Journal – June 3, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe
 
Atwood Avenue traffic signal, signage on Route 2 causing drivers woe
     Q: The traffic signal at the end of the Atwood Avenue East ramp, from Route 6 East in Johnston, seems to be malfunctioning.
   It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is, one has to wait an excessive amount of time before being able to turn left to head north on Atwood Avenue, even when there is no traffic traveling in either direction on Atwood Avenue.
   Is this something that can be looked into?
   — Jane K.
   A: The Atwood Avenue East Ramp and Atwood Avenue intersection in Johnston was field reviewed by RIDOT’s engineers and they found a problem with the traffic signal equipment. The sensors in the road were malfunctioning.
   They have since been replaced and the traffic signal is now functioning properly.

   Route 2 confusion
   Q: The shopping center on Route 2, where Michael’s and Shaw’s are, has an exit onto Route 2 with a traffic light.
   The two lanes exiting have new signage that has the left lane only for a left turn and the right lane only for a right turn.
   What if one wants to go straight toward the car dealership across the street?
   — Ann D., North Kingstown
   A: A RIDOT engineer reviewed the lane use signs at this location. Lane use signs tell drivers which lane to be in so that all drivers are making the correct movement in each lane.
   This field review showed that currently there is a sign indicating the left lane is intended for both left turns and for proceeding straight through the intersection.  
   There is another sign for drivers in the right lane stating, “Right Lane Must Turn Right.”
   Based on what you described in your question, it appears that your concern about improper signage has been addressed.
   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.
   Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding.The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways.

   To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  cars@providencejournal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.
   Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.  








DOT ANSWERS: Route 114 signals will be upgraded


DOT Answers: Route 114 signals will be upgraded
The Providence Journal-May 27, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe
  
Q: My question concerns Route 114 from Bristol to Newport. When traveling one weekend night from Bristol through to Newport around 11 p.m. I came to a series of stoplights. After hitting a red light near Portsmouth and traveling the speed limit, I proceeded to hit just about every red light along the road. There are many.
   Traffic was very light. It seems a big waste of energy and time. Many of those stops had no intersecting traffic. Wouldn’t this be an ideal area to link all the green lights, perhaps not all the time, but when traffic is reduced?  
   — Frederick Smith,
   North Kingstown
   A: It is RIDOT’s intention to synchronize the West Main Road (Route 114) traffic signals that are between Admiral Kalbfus Road in Newport to Cory’s Lane in Portsmouth. To make this happen, the traffic signals along this corridor will either be upgraded or replaced. The first contract is retiming and synchronizing the closely spaced signals from Coddington Highway north to Greene Lane in Middletown to allow better traffic flow.
   The second contract, which extends from Locust Avenue north to Route 24 in Portsmouth, will be advertised for construction shortly. This project will upgrade or replace the traffic signals in conjunction with adding new road pavement. Two additional future   contracts will cover the remaining portions of Route 114 up to Bristol Ferry Road.
   Upon completion of these projects, the entire corridor will operate much more efficiently during all times of day.
   East Main Road signals
   Q: The stretch of Route 138, East Main Road in Portsmouth between Mitchells Lane and Route 24 is roughly seven miles long and has 13 traffic signals, two of them recent additions. It would be helpful if these traffic signals were set to give traffic on East Main Road priority over the side roads and to coordinate the “green” pattern so that the traffic on East Main Road does not have to stop whenever a single car pulls up to one of the side streets. A drive over this road usually results in stopping for over half of the lights. Particularly bothersome is the light at   Sandy Point Avenue where I’ve seen the light change to red twice within one minute when there was significant traffic on East Main Road.
   — Jim W., Portsmouth
   A: Traffic signal timings   on our state roads, including East Main Road (Route 138) in Portsmouth, are determined through analysis techniques that look at traffic volumes and those signals are set to minimize the amount of delay experienced by both the main roads and the side roads.
   Although there are many traffic signals along East Main Road from Mitchells Lane to Route 24, most are spaced too far apart for synchronization. Traffic signals are programmed to give priority to vehicles on the main line, East Main Road. A few of these traffic signals were not functioning properly but have since been repaired.
   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.
   Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding.
   The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways.
   To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to cars@providence  journal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.
   Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.



DOT ANSWERS: Heavy traffic requires driver courteousness


DOT Answers: Heavy traffic requires driver courteousness
The Providence Journal-May 20, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe

Q: I have two problem areas that I’ve encountered: 1. Traveling southbound on Route 95 at Exit 12 there is a lane of traffic headed at me to my left. Who has the right of way? 2. When traveling to Route 95 southbound, from the VA Hospital and I get on Routes 6 and 10 and I am looking at the Providence Place mall, there is again a merge of traffic lanes but who must yield? Can you explain why signage is not used in these instances?
   A: The two locations you refer to are Route 95 Southbound at Exit 12 in Warwick and Routes 6 and 10 Eastbound at Route 95 near Providence Place in Providence. Both of these locations involve intersections   that have merging conditions.
   According to R.I .General Laws, the driver of the vehicle in the lane adjacent to an on-ramp should yield the right of way to vehicles merging into traffic from the on-ramp. This does not apply to on-ramps that have a yield sign. In this case, the driver entering the   road from the on-ramp must yield.
   Yield signs are used to assign the right of way when the acceleration lane or sight distance is not adequate for merging. Since there is adequate room to merge at these locations a yield sign is not needed.
   In both cases, however, it sometimes can be difficult for a driver to enter a road during heavy traffic conditions. Adherence to the law, as well as driver courteousness, is then required so that everyone remains safe on our roads.
   Was change a mistake?
   Q: A few years ago, a section of West Main Road (Route 114)   in Middletown was widened between Valley Road (Route 214) and the Gate 17 access road to the naval base. As part of this widening of the road a northbound left lane vehicle could move to a center turnoff lane to await an opportunity to turn left onto Chase’s Lane.
   This road accesses four residential housing developments, a bank, a Home Depot, and a theater complex. As a result of the recent repaving and re-lining of the highway, this turn-off lane is no longer available. It has been enclosed in double solid lines and a crisscross hatch marking. Now those of us needing to turn left to get to homes or work must stop in the northbound travel lane.   The result essentially reduces Route 114 from two northbound lanes to one northbound lane. Was this change a mistake? Was this done intentionally and if so, why?
   — Sally G., Middletown
   A: The left turn lane on West Main Road at Chase’s Lane was mistakenly removed   when West Main Road was resurfaced. The plans developed for widening the road several years back were not incorporated into the striping plans for the more recent resurfacing.
   The striping has since been corrected to allow vehicles making a left onto Chase’s Lane access from a dedicated left-turn lane.
   Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters.   The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways. To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  cars@providencejournal.com . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field.  




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