BURRILLVILLE – Following a tragic accident last month that took the life of a local firefighter, members of the Burrillville Town Council are asking state traffic officials to examine speed limits along the busy highway with an eye toward safety improvements.
It is not the first time the council has made the request.
Councilors asked the state to look at the road five years ago following three serious accidents, including two that resulted in fatalities. A study was done, with Col. Stephen Lynch providing the state traffic commission recommendations for how to improve safety.
Changes were ultimately made on the state roadway, including lane improvements and speed reductions.
But Councilor Dennis Anderson noted that not all of Lynch’s recommendations were followed.
“When they made the changes, they didn’t go along with what he asked for,” said Anderson, adding that he feels that at minimum, speed in front of Burrillville Middle School should be reduced throughout the day.
Councilor Raymond Trinque noted that since the 2014 improvements, truck traffic has increased along the roadway.
“They did some of it, but they didn’t do all of it,” noted Town Manager Michael Wood of Lynch’s recommendations.
In 2013, three people died in fatal crashes on the road including two teenagers. And in March, Harrisville firefighter Ryan Ferris died following a four vehicle collision that saw his car pinned under a box truck.
Town Council President John Pacheco said he put discussion of the highway on the board’s agenda last week following three phone calls and an email from residents on the subject.
“I put this on the agenda because of the tragedy we had with Ryan,” Pacheco said.
Councilor Donald Fox said that his own brother was involved in a head-on collision on the road around eight years ago.
“A lot of the time, it’s because people are driving distracted through that intersection,” said Fox. “We can do all we want to put down new speed limits and so forth but what you find is people looking at their phones. It’s not just speed related. It’s unfortunately a sign of the times.”
Anderson said that he’d also like to see more enforcement of current traffic laws, but Councilor Amanda Gingell noted that she hears near constant activity over the police radio.
“That radio is consistent non-stop with traffic. They do patrols,” said Gingell. “We do have a lot of roads but they are definitely out there. They are pulling people over.”
The board voted unanimously to ask the state traffic commission to look at the issue, with members noting they’d like to see full implementation of the plan previously supported by the chief.
“We can push for what we want,” said Wood. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”