WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — As drivers grow accustomed to the new roundabouts in Apponaug, a public records request shows there were nearly 30 accidents between the completion of the Warwick project last fall and the end of January this year.
According to accident numbers provided to Eyewitness News by Warwick Police, there were 27 crashes in the area between Nov. 1, 2017 and Feb. 1, 2018. Most of those accidents, a total of 16, occurred in the roundabout connecting Veterans Memorial Drive and Greenwich Avenue. There were seven accidents in that rotary in November, six in December and three in January.
“Both the number of accidents that are happening on a monthly basis and the number of injuries is going down,” Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Peter Alviti said. RIDOT said between January and April,the area saw an average of nine crashes a month before the roundabouts were constructed. Before construction, RIDOT said the average number of injuries was 1.5 a month, a number that’s ticked down a hair to 1.4
The new traffic pattern, installed as part of the Apponaug Circulator Project, drew numerous complaints about traffic and drivers failing to yield as they entered the rotaries. In June, an Eyewitness News viewer shared photos of an SUV that rolled onto its roof in the middle of a roundabout. Alviti said his own wife is still very apprehensive about driving through the area, but he’s heard others like it. Charles Moore, the owner of the Apponaug Color and Hobby Shop, approves of the changes.
“People can get here more easily, it’s more easy to find a place to park, and more important it’s easier to leave and they can get back to their destination,” Moore said. “I’m used to it, and most of my customers are getting very used to it, and they love it.”
Alviti said RIDOT is still working out some kinks, and hopes to make the area less confusing.
“After going through it several times myself, I find probably the most anxious times I experience … is when I’m needing to make decisions on which exit to get off,” he said, explaining they’ve developed new signage and are working with the city to install it. The new signs would give drivers a better sense of which roundabouts lead where. He said he hopes to have them installed by the spring.
In addition to the Warwick, RIDOT is planning to use roundabouts in several other areas:
- Route 138 at Route 112 in Richmond
- Valley Road at Aquidneck Ave in Middletown
- Route 7 at Branch Pike in Smithfield
- Route 138 at Route 2 in South Kingstown
- Route 138 at Ministerial Road in South Kingstown
- Route 138 at Peckham Farm Road in South Kingstown
- Diamond Hill Road at I-295 North and South ramps
Some of the proposed roundabouts are in development and others are in the early stages of planning; RIDOT said construction on most are is planned for another several years.