Dealing with community issues HEAD-ON

RIDOT confirms receipt of Johnston Market Basket traffic improvement plan


The residents got sick of all the road rage and head-on collision close-calls.

So they got together and started attending Johnston Town Council meetings. Then their local newspaper finally wrote about their struggle to fix a clumsy section of signage leading to busy grocery store parking lot shortcut.

And now, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has confirmed receipt of “Proposed Site Improvements” outside Market Basket on Hartford Avenue.

“Whether a project a project is large or ... small there is a process which needs to be followed and the process takes time,” explained Market Basket’s hired engineering consultant, James R. Lamp.

Late last year and a few months back, Lamp attended a pair of Johnston Town Council meetings, where he listened to concerns voiced by residents and Johnston Police Chief Mark A. Vieira.

Town Council members were all fairly vocal in their support for the residents.

When BJ’s Wholesale Club operated a store at the same site on Hartford Avenue, they had a gate that blocked customers from entering the back of the lot. Since Market Basket renovated the site and opened their store in 2022, residents utilizing a nearby strip mall and neighbors living on Hargreaves Street have been encountering motorists head-on as they try to legally turn onto their own street.

“Our Traffic/Highway Engineer, Pare Corporation, has completed the design plans and is in the process of preparing the documents for submission to the RIDOT,” Lamp said. “The RIDOT is aware of the proposed improvements, which are based on their feedback.”

RI DOT Chief of Public Affairs Charles St. Martin confirmed receipt of the plans.

“Yes, we have since received the permit application related to the Market Basket in Johnston,” St. Martin wrote via email Tuesday. We are currently reviewing it.”

RIDOT, however, refused to provide an estimated timeline.

“I can’t comment on Market Basket’s timeline,” St. Martin wrote.

Lamp provided a copy of the proposed site improvements, which became public documents once they were submitted to RIDOT.

Two weeks ago, the RIDOT spokesman said they were aware of concerns at the site, but had yet to receive formal plans.

“We are aware that Market Basket officials have been in discussions with a traffic engineering consultant, but we have not yet received a request for a permit which would be necessary for the improvements they proposed, which the police chief mentioned in your story,” St. Martin wrote earlier this month. “We would certainly review any such request for changes which would be done at Market Basket’s expense.”

Local police said their hands were tied; “Do Not Enter” signs on Market Basket property were unenforceable. Although the arrows and striping on the state roadway was unclear to motorists on this stretch of Route 6, any road improvements would have to clear RIDOT.

“It continues to be my understanding that Market Basket, through the Rhode Island DOT, intends to pursue the modifications they previously mentioned at the Jan. 8 Town Council meeting,” Vieira confirmed a week after the story was first reported. “I am not aware of a target date provided by Market Basket as to when they planned on submitting their requests to R.I. DOT for the necessary permits to install the modifications.”

After receiving a request for comment, Lamp confirmed the plans were nearly complete and would soon be submitted to the state.

“Once approved we intend to get the work completed as soon practicable,” Lamp said. “We are still targeting to complete the work this spring, as discussed with the Town.”

Lamp described the proposed site improvements.

“The proposal provides an exclusive eastbound left turn lane for Hargreaves Street and includes the installation of a ‘delta’ island within the Market Basket service entrance (the eastern most access to the site),” Lamp wrote via email. “These improvements are intended to prohibit passenger vehicles from making westbound left turns, into the service entrance, and eliminate opposing left turn conflicts, in the center lane.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Lamp estimated the road improvements would cost around $34,000. He also confirmed that Market Basket planned to pick up the construction tab, if the project is approved by the state.

“The RIDOT is correct,” Lamp wrote. “Market Basket will be paying for these particular improvements.”

Hargreaves Street residents Deb and Mike Keough, who have urged town officials to act before a serious accident occurs outside Market Basket, welcomed the news.

“I’ll take that,” they wrote via email. “We are not giving up.”


Accidents waiting to happen: Johnston Market Basket traffic frustrates neighbors


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