October 24, 2007

A State in Which You Have to Be an Insider Just to Get Where You're Going

Justin Katz

I grew up a fifteen minute drive from the George Washington Bridge into New York City. I lived in Pittsburgh for a year. And I'm a wanderer. That is to say that I've been lost in some of the most confusing areas that the (expanded) East Coast has to offer, but tonight I discovered a specimen of poor street planning so spectacular that the city of East Providence ought to market it as a tourist attraction: where Broadway and Taunton and Waterman all jumble together in an explicable collection of diverging one-ways, replete with weird forks, sporadic signage, and highway-style exits onto normal roads, not to mention the quick dip into a tunnel that seems to have no purpose but to create an overpass to label with a memorial plaque.

So help me, the experience gifted me with a new empathy, as I could not help but think to myself, "No wonder Rhode Islanders act the way they do!" No road nor forest path has ever so thoroughly succeeded in disorienting me and corrupting my sense of direction.

As with everything in Rhode Island, what needs to be done is crystal clear to anybody with an ounce of objectivity, but the thorough reworking of contorted infrastructure would require the displacement of too many established interests. And those who've learned the winds and turns — whether not realizing how much they impair their lives or benefiting from others inability to find their way — develop a perverted pride in their toughness for simply surviving.

If we're to change a thing, I suppose, we've got begin with each neighborhood, each block, convincing, collaborating, building a critical mass of interest in a better road.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


In true Rhode Island fashion, that intersection I believe was designed after an all-nighter at Bovi's featuring Kenny Lyons!

Oops! Did I say that???? Way before your time! Forget what I said!

Posted by: Ken at October 25, 2007 12:54 AM

I guess my fair city made quite the impression on you. As for the particular "intersection" (I use the term loosely) which you've referenced, it's locally referred to as "six corners." Believe it or not, the current configuration was put in place a number of years ago to make it "safer" -- since all six lanes of the streets used to converge at one single point in a kind of bicycle-spoke configuration, and as such, was once very accident prone. The frequent accidents are largely gone now, as the current design goes to great lengths [as you've noted] to make you go out of your way from the former convergence point -- and if you're not a local, to get horribly lost in the process. Even being someone who has lived in E.P. for nearly my entire life, I've gotten lost in the same intersection many times, so no one should ever fault you for it!

If you think that one was fun, try taking Wampanoag Trail from Riverside to the bordering town of Seekonk MA. In order to do so ... you have to go South to Barrington first, then double-back and then go North in order to go due East to Seekonk .. it's fun!

PS The "tunnel that seems to have no purpose but to create an overpass to label with a memorial plaque" was named after a now deceased funeral home owner. Perhaps because so much "business" was taken away from him when six corners was made "safer," they gave him the plaque as a form of compensation. ;)

Posted by: Will at October 25, 2007 12:56 AM


I agree totally with Will abut the design.

However, if you are heading North on Broadway and want to by-pass the intersection, you can turn left at the old roller-skating ring and head directly towards Providence.

Posted by: Ken at October 25, 2007 1:26 AM

The roadsigns, street signs, and directional arrows are all there . . . but they are only visible to Democrats.

The message is; if you're a Republican, we don't want you here!

Posted by: brassband at October 25, 2007 9:36 AM

So much for that whole "diversity" and "open-mindedness" sham, eh brassman?

Posted by: J at October 25, 2007 2:15 PM
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