July 21, 2019

Going Around in Circles

Rehoboth Ramblings


As of this writing, I’ve noticed trash bags sitting around the overflowing recycling bins behind the old Anawan School as the papers are no longer being picked up. Hope a new recycling service can be found soon before this situation gets much worse.

Having read about a proposed rotary/roundabout at the intersection of Rt. 44 and Rt. 118, I’m wondering how that will turn out. I don’t know enough about the subject to make an informed decision but the proposed design plan makes it looks like a fairly simple rotary.

Rotaries are supposed keep traffic moving and avoid the need for a traffic lights, etc. I can handle the Taunton rotary pretty well, but generally speaking, these traffic circles make me nervous, and the more exits, the worse it is. It’s hard for me to figure out what lane I should be in and judging by the many near collisions, I’m not alone in this. The prize for most hair-raising rotary in eastern Massachusetts goes to the one at Columbia Road and Morrissey in Dorchester (a.k.a. the Circle of Death). I’ve only driven around it as a passenger, covering my eyes as cars careen around and sometimes collide.

I wonder if being confused by a roundabout has something to do with my troubles with geometry in high school. Maybe I’m just not good at spatial relationships. At least, with this circular traffic pattern you don’t have to wait to make left turns. I don’t mind a left turn with a light, but if there’s no light, I’ll take three right turns to avoid a difficult left turn. But driving on roundabouts requires practice and adequate signage is absolutely essential.

In England, the roundabout is a way of life (and right turns are difficult.) You cannot drive down a major or even minor road without coming to a roundabout soon and then another. In some busy areas, you can get off one roundabout and it will put you right out on another one. What with driving on the left and this, I could no more drive in the UK than pilot a plane. My husband, who is usually very good at driving over there, says he still has nightmares about the Wolvercote roundabout north of Oxford.

We’ll see what develops locally. I’m sure there will be strong opinions one way or the other. By the way, the new and improved intersection at the Grist Mill in Seekonk is nice now that it’s completed. Now if they could just get the Washington Bridge in Providence done, but that’s going to take many a long month. If everyone would just drive responsibly, and defensively, whatever and wherever the roads, life would be so much easier, but that’s asking too much.

Speaking of Providence, I do have a strong opinion on the proposed Fane Tower (referring to its New York architect Jason Fane, who I assume has local RI connections.) Referred to as the Hope Point Tower, I think of it as, pardon the pun, the triumph of hope over experience. I agree with the Providence Preservation Society on this one. I don’t like the design and it’s too big for its proposed location, where it would stand out like the monolith at the beginning of “2001 A Space Odyssey”.

This is not even considering who is going to pay for it and how, and what would happen if the economy sours. New buildings do bring construction jobs, but only while the buildings are being built. Also, it seems unlikely to me that there are that many people eager to buy more luxury housing in downtown Providence, in addition to what already exists. This proposed building is not right for its location and the land there could be put to better use and still benefit Providence.

I don’t know anyone is who is against progress or against the building of any new buildings. But I’m leery of any major new development that requires a zoning variance. I do have experience of a misplaced high-rise on the East Side, having worked in the Science Library at Brown 20 some years ago. That fortress-like building was often mocked and it does look out of place there, though I have to admit that the panoramic view from the staff lounge on the top floor was terrific.


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