Confusion surrounds Roger Williams Park traffic change

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new one-way traffic pattern through Roger Williams Park has been delayed, causing some confusion among drivers.

The new traffic pattern was supposed to take effect Thursday morning. However, the Providence Parks Department tells Eyewitness News the city decided to delay the change by one day because rain prevented workers from doing any road-striping overnight.

There was apparently no public notice about the delay, and even the Parks Department seemed to have missed the memo. Flashing traffic signs were in place and turned on to inform drivers of the change. City workers eventually shut those signs off just before 7 a.m.Traffic pattern at Roger Williams Park

The one-way pattern will officially go into effect on Friday.

The change has been a source of friction between Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. Fung has expressed concern the change would increase the amount of traffic through his city around the park.

Elorza said the new pattern will protect visitors to the park from drivers who misuse the area.

“It’s a park, and we want people to enjoy it as a park,” said Elorza. “It’s not a cut-through, it’s not a shortcut to get from one neighborhood to the next.”

“When you look at other parks throughout the state, they have the same one-way rotation,” he added. “You go to Lincoln Woods, you go to Colt State Park, it’s really nothing different.”

Fung and other Cranston leaders also claimed the communication from Elorza’s office has been poor and questioned the adequacy of public meetings. They called for the traffic change to be paused and further studied.

“It’s just not right,” said Fung. “The lack of communication, the lack of being a good neighbor. It doesn’t sit well.”

Protesters in the area on Thursday said residents were left in the dark about the plan.

“People have been stopping, asking us, ‘what are you talking about, one-way? When is this happening?'” said Lisa Gibb. “Well, it was supposed to have already happened this morning.”

Elorza refuted these claims, saying his office reached out to Fung’s office and conducted a traffic study for the new traffic pattern.

“We have documentation where we reached out directly to Mayor Fung’s team,” Elorza said. “We never heard back from them.”

Eyewitness News has filed a public records request for that traffic study and awaits its release.