NORTH SMITHFIELD - At the urging of town officials, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) is modifying the intersection of Route 102 and Route 5 in Slatersville in an attempt to make the intersection safer for pedestrians.
The modifications at the intersection of Route 102 (Victory Highway) and Route 5 (North Main Street) were approved by the DOT following a meeting last week between Town Administrator Paulette D. Hamilton and DOT engineers. Hamilton called for the meeting to determine a course of action to improve safety at the intersection in the wake of an accident in which 13-year-old Scott Wright of North Smithfield was struck by a car and killed last month while attempting to cross Victory Highway.
"I wanted to confirm that if there were any improvements possible, we would be ensured that the process would be on the top of the priority list for DOT,” said Hamilton. “After our meeting, I received a report that was completed by traffic experts from the state department and as a result, modifications have begun to be made at that intersection.”
According to Hamilton, the Department of Transportation has begun to sign and stripe all approaches with two lanes in order to designate the movements at each lane, work the DOT anticipates will be completed within the next couple of weeks.
Also, she said, DOT changed the pedestrian walk times and is proposing to implement an exclusive pedestrian phase where cars on all approaches stop as well as pedestrian countdown signals. The latter recommendation regarding the implementation of an exclusive pedestrian phase will be proposed to the State Traffic Commission.
That panel, Hamilton said, will then perform a study to determine the impact to traffic and based on that information will determine the outcome of the request.
Hamilton hopes the improvements will provide for safer conditions at the intersection so that another tragedy doesn't happen.
On Nov. 3, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Wright, the son of Scott and Christine Wright, was with two friends, all on bicycles, three-tenths of a mile from the Wright home on North Main Street. The boys, with Wright in the lead, were crossing Victory Highway in the crosswalk from the Cumberland Farms toward Brigido’s Fresh Market. Wright had almost reached the Brigido’s side when he was struck by a minivan and thrown about 40 feet.
The 57-year-old driver of the minivan was not charged in the accident.
"We believe the immediate changes being made now will improve safety at the intersection," said DOT spokesman Charles E. St. Martin.
"We are adding pavement markings at the south, east and west approaches of the intersection to better designate them as turning lanes or through lanes. Now, all lanes are not marked for any specific use," said St. Martin, adding that signage will be erected as well.
"These changes are ongoing and should be done soon," he said. "We have also lengthened the crossing time for pedestrians crossing Victory Highway."