Diamond Hill project causing frustration for residents

Diamond Hill project causing frustration for residents

Jennifer Brousseau, of 3 Home Ave. in Cumberland, points to the construction site directly across from her property. (Breeze photos by Melanie Thibeault )

CUMBERLAND – Since work began last summer on the double roundabout project at Diamond Hill Road at Route 295 Jennifer Brousseau, of 3 Home Ave., said the best $20 she ever spent was on a white noise machine to drown out the disruptive sounds from the night construction directly across from her property.

In March, Brousseau and her neighbor Nellie DaSilva, at 50 Old Diamond Hill Road, created a Facebook group called Diamond Hill Community Association, which serves as a platform for those affected by the construction to voice concerns and share advice and information with one another.

While residents’ concerns range from noise complaints to safety matters, the biggest challenge, Brousseau told The Valley Breeze, has been the state’s lack of communication on the whole project.

“The state’s response has been poor,” she said. “Answers are vague or inaccurate for the most part.”

The double roundabout project at Route 295 and Diamond Hill Road began in July 2018 and is expected to run through December 2020. After a winter hiatus, work resumed in the spring.

The project consists of adding roundabouts at both Route 295 Exit 22 ramps and the realignment Chapel Four Corners.

Representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation told The Breeze that the project is on time and on budget and that drainage work is being completed now, followed by curb and sidewalk installations, but did not comment on residents’ concerns.

According to a project update listed on RIDOT’s website, there will be alternating lane closures from Angell Road to Industrial Road, Sunday through Thursday nights from 7:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. to allow for drainage work on the south side of Diamond Hill Road.

Crews are working both day and night, depending upon the operation, according to RIDOT.

Neighbors on Home Avenue and Old Diamond Hill Road lamented the fact that they lost the vegetative buffer blocking their neighborhood from traffic on Diamond Hill Road, as part of the construction work.

“We’re very anxious for the trees and brush to be replanted,” Brousseau said, adding that she doesn’t know when new vegetation will be planted.

Not only is there a lack of privacy, but residents said they had to fight to get a fence put around the construction site, worried for the safety of young children who live there who now have exposure to the 295 on-ramp.

Residents also pointed out a new body of standing water, measuring six feet deep at one point, that has formed on the site in the area where the trees were removed, they said. While it is fenced off, a piece of the fence can easily be opened to allow access to the site.

If a neighbor receives a response from officials, the Facebook page serves as a great place to post that information, Brousseau said, adding that people can also share something as simple as a picture of a flat tire caused by the construction.

“You can tell there’s a big interest and desire for people to speak up,” she said of the growing Facebook page.

Brousseau has been gathering and sending posts to officials at RIDOT, but she said she hasn’t received anything more than a vague response thanking her for her inquiry.

“If Jen isn’t getting a response, all of us are frustrated as well,” DaSilva said of Brousseau as the unofficial spokeswoman for the group.

Town officials have been more responsive and supportive, Brousseau said.

In addition to the fence, neighbors said another success was getting “dead-end” signs put up after they noticed an increase in traffic coming into the neighborhood and turning around.

Marie-anne Paquin, who’s lived at 12 Old Diamond Hill Road for 36 years, said she’d like to see another neighborhood meeting with state officials so they can voice their concerns, adding that it would be nice if RIDOT could check in every three months.

“The noise at night has been crazy,” she said. “I went almost a week without sleep.”

Late night detours and loud drilling that causes her house to shake have been nuisances for DaSilva, who moved into her house last July right before construction started, unaware of the upcoming RIDOT project, and who has young children.

She said the disturbances have “calmed down a little bit” now that construction isn’t right next to her house, but asks that the workers, who are outside yelling at midnight and in the early morning, have a little more consideration for neighbors.

While Brousseau said it’s great to speak up on Facebook, she has been encouraging people to reach out to local and state officials, keeping a list of contact information.

“It’s so important that the majority of people speak to the right people. That’s the only way to make impact,” she said.

Her goal, she added, is to find solutions, open up communication, and hopefully have an impact.

“I know that this project is for the betterment of the community,” she said. “I don’t want to complain about everything … I want (construction) to be done. I want it to go as fast as possible.”

This standing body of water didn’t exist before crews removed trees between Diamond Hill Road and Old Diamond Hill Road to begin work on the double roundabout project, according to residents of the neighborhood. With young kids in the neighborhood, residents have expressed concerns about the water, which they said measured six feet deep at one point.

Comments

When exiting from 295 to 114 north...you are not allowed to cross over and merge with traffic coming from the right even though there is an open spot between the orange cones. There is a traffic policeman way up at the bridge waving a 12" light at you to stop. But, no one to tell you at the exit that you have to go right up towards Chapel Four Corners, turn around and come back to get in the lane going north. When you eventually do this exercise, get in the north lane, the policeman waves his little light at you to stop to let traffic come south and to cross over to the on-ramp for 295. Then, when you proceed forward you encounter a collection of orange cones forming many different lanes an you hope you are in the right one going north. No one at the exit ramp; no signs to indicate the lanes. Only one traffic cop in the dark.
RIDOT should be instructed to do a better job of safety.

Per the article, Jennifer Brousseau states that communication from the State has been horrendous...and when they do answer the answers have been vague and inaccurate.

Again, this is very, very disappointing...especially so wherein the Assistant Director of Outreach for the RI-DOT is a Cumberland 'Native' who works right in the Office of the Director...his name is David Walsh. And, I believe David is also still a Cumberland resident.

Needless to say you would think, that being the case, if David were contacted directly, and with the ties he has bonding him to Cumberland, the neighbors in those affected areas might not have to go through what they have faced this far.

I have known David since he was a kid at the Cumberland Lincoln Boys and Girl Club...and Iknow that he is a super, caring, person.

I would suggest the neighbors in that area, going forward, contact David personally.

His e-mail is: david.walsh@dot.ri.gov

His Office # is: (401) 222-2492

His Cell # is: (401) 479-4506

Tom Letourneau