Above: The town will make this intersection at Hickory and Maplewood a three-way stop. Right now, there is only a stop sign where Hickory Drive dead ends into Maplewood.
When Joe Harwood and his wife moved to Maplewood Drive from Narragansett Parkway in Warwick, they were thrilled to trade a busy major thoroughfare for a leafy suburban neighborhood street. But it turned out Maplewood Drive may look like a quiet street but it serves as a cut-through from the Tanglewood neighborhood and Glen Drive to South Pierce Road. And those drivers always seem to be in a hurry, he said.
“We left Narragansett Parkway in Warwick because of the traffic. We didn’t think it would be so bad here,” Harwood told the Town Council at its Nov. 8 meeting, at a public hearing about adding stop signs on Maplewood Drive at Hickory Drive, which dead ends into Maplewood.
Paula Hurd, who also lives on Maplewood Drive, said she and another neighbor had taken matters into their own hands, buying 15 signs urging drivers to slow down and distributing them from the spot where Glen Drive dead ends into Maplewood Drive east. Some residents even ask for two signs, she said. “Parents cannot even let their children play in their front yards,” Hurd told the councilors.
Public Works Director Joe Duarte said typically stop signs are not used to slow down traffic but he acknowledged the Maplewood-Hickory stretch of road presented various challenges and adding stop signs would help with “traffic calming.”
“There isn’t a huge volume of vehicles on this road. We typically like to see 300 vehicles at an intersection [for a stop sign] but there is some level of traffic that goes through that intersection,” he said. “The biggest difficulty is people aren’t stopping at the sign on Hickory. There is a stop sign on Hickory to Maplewood…. The geometry there is very difficult. There are S curves, there are elevation differences. There are a variety of things that add to the complexity of the intersection. Again, it’s not a high-volume intersection.”
One of the challenges, he said, was the Hickory-Maplewood stop was at an angle, making it seem a bit more natural to slide right through it. There are structural things the town could do, but Duarte said the stop signs were a good first step.
“It’s a complicated intersection. I want to make it better,” Duarte said. “It’s a start, with the stop sign. We think it’s going to improve traffic in this general area.”
The Town Council agreed and, at the required third reading of the stop sign ordinance Nov. 22, they voted in favor.
Duarte said Tuesday he is waiting for the signs to come in and for Dig Safe clearance and they would probably be installed by next week.