BURRILLVILLE – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation officially reduced the speed limit on a busy stretch of highway in town last week, a change some in Burrillville have criticized.
But police Col. Stephen Lynch says he’s in favor of any efforts to increase safety on the dangerous roadway, citing multiple fatalities.
The speed limit on Route 102 has been reduced from 50 miles-per-hour to 45 miles-per-hour, for most of the stretch from the Glocester town line into North Smithfield. By Burrillville Middle School, the 40 miles-per-hour limit has been reduced to 35.
The town asked RIDOT officials to study limits on the road last April after a fatal crash by East Avenue took the life of a 39-year-old man. The State Traffic Commission approved the change in November.
And on Saturday, Feb. 22, signs marking the new limits were installed.
Several councilors, however, have said the reduction along the entire route is not the change they wanted.
Councilor Amanda Gingell told NRI NOW in January that the board hoped to target the school area, and asked that Lynch work directly with RIDOT before any changes went into effect.
Her comments were repeated this week on social media by Councilor Jeremy Bailey.
“What we asked DOT to do was to look at speed around East Ave and the Middle School,” wrote Bailey. “We didn’t ask them to drop the speed limit on any other stretch of the road.”
Bailey asserted that 45 is “way too slow,” for the roadway.
“I’m going to continue to push to have the state raise the limit back up,” he said.
Residents also took to social media to air their grievances.
“I tried to go that slow today. It was painful,” one resident wrote.
“35 on a state road is ridiculous and honestly, enforcing it would just be taking money from residents who already have a long travel ahead of them,” another stated.
RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said his office has not received any secondary requests since the signs went up.
The change, he said, came with few expenses.
“The signs were installed by in-house staff, using existing signs and materials, so the cost was minimal,” St. Martin said.
And for Lynch, it seems, anything that helps to keep travelers safe is an improvement.
“When I started here in 2013 we had three fatal deaths from motor vehicle crashes in a ten day period on Rt. 102,” Lynch said, noting that in March of 2019, an off duty Harrisville firefighter was killed while stopped at the traffic light while en route to pick up his daughter from elementary school.
“Since 2013 we have continued to work with DOT on making Rt. 102 a safer roadway and will continue to do so,” Lynch said.
The colonel said that the recent changes will not come with increased enforcement.
“We are steady in our enforcement efforts and don’t see the reduction in zoned speed as an avenue to step up what we see as a steady plan on all types of enforcement-speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, etc,” Lynch said. “I do not see difficulty in enforcement efforts as a result of the changes in the speeds on Rt. 102.”
“Any efforts to keep motorists safe on Rt. 102, I support,” he said.