Safety improvements planned for busy Route 52 intersection

Thursday December 21, 2000

MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS

Kent - A busy intersection near the Kent schools is scheduled for a face-lift and safety improvements.

Under a state Department of Transportation plan, the intersection of Route 52 and Farmers Mills Road will be realigned and get a new traffic light. Left-turn lanes will be added to Route 52. New signs, pavement markings and drainage improvements also are part of the project.

Colleen McKenna, a DOT spokeswoman, said the project arose from requests by the town and school community for a safer intersection. Kent Primary School and Kent Elementary School are at the intersection's southwest corner.

"After assessing the area, we found it had a higher accident rate than the state average," McKenna said.

DOT officials will explain the project's details at the Jan. 28 Kent Town Board meeting. Any work, though, is more than a year away.

McKenna said the department would begin seeking contractors next December and construction is scheduled to begin in early 2002. The project's cost is estimated at $800,000.

Town Supervisor Annmarie Baisley said any improvements at the site would be welcome.

"I think it's a good thing," Baisley said. "All it has is that yellow blinking light. If you're coming too fast, you can't see it."

The blinking light would be replaced with a typical, three-color light. The intersection, which now resembles a "Y", would become a more perpendicular "T" junction. Left-turn lanes on Route 52 would direct drivers either onto Farmers Mills Road or into a shopping center.

Kent police Lt. Alex DiVernieri said the current intersection was a "confusing" spot. Drivers traveling south on Route 52 crest a hill and find themselves having to suddenly negotiate the intersection. Those looking to pull out onto Route 52 from Farmers Mills, he said, are forced to crane their necks almost 180 degrees to gauge the oncoming traffic.

Many of the accidents at the intersection, DiVernieri said, were "rear-enders." Drivers on Farmers Mills Road watch the traffic on Route 52 and not the car in front of them as they approach the yield sign.

"Definitely the T-intersection would create an improvement," DiVernieri said.

The two schools near the intersection have 1,150 students. Kent Elementary is closet to the junction and its principal was relieved to hear about the upcoming work.

"I don't let children cross that street, and I hold my breath when the staff crosses," Principal Cindy Slotkin said.



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