GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE shows off the plans for the Apponaug Circulator Project at a groundbreaking ceremony.
By Elizabeth W. Lorenz PBN Staff Writer
State, federal and local officials marked the groundbreaking of a $29.9 million project that will overhaul Warwick’s historic Apponaug Village last week.
The Apponaug Circulator Project will convert five existing intersections into roundabouts and realign several roadways. The $29.9 million contract with Cardi Corp. is designed to reduce traffic volume, promoting a pedestrian-friendly environment. It will cover 2.3 miles of roadway and will also add 1,100 feet of new roads to allow commuters and travelers to bypass Apponaug village as they head towards the highway entrance ramps on Route 117. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.
The first steps for the project involve relocating overhead and underground utilities in order to accommodate the renovations. Construction will begin within a stretch of abandoned mills to relocate a portion of the Apponaug River, construct a water-quality basin and make other preparations, which includes developing a new section of Veterans Memorial Boulevard roadway and bridge, according to the R.I. Department of Transportation website. No roads will be closed completely during the renovations, but there will be some lane closures.
The outdated road system in Apponaug village currently has an average of 24,500 vehicles passing through its center along Post Road on a given day. The roads haven’t been altered since the 1970s and officials believe that the current road system is creating traffic congestion and hindering economic vitality. After the project is completed, the average number of vehicles passing through the center is expected to drop to 5,000.
The Federal Highway Administration supports several studies conducted in Australia, Europe and the U.S., which have found that roundabouts improve overall safety more than other intersection forms. Roundabouts have fewer “conflict points” in comparison to traditional intersections and low absolute speeds also reduce the severity of reported crashes. Pedestrians (and merging vehicles) also only have to focus on one direction of traffic when crossing a roundabout.
There are also other plans in place to accentuate the historical value of Apponaug Village. Sidewalks will be replaced and period lamp posts will be installed. Parking lanes will also be widened, making the village more appealing destination for shopping, dining and other cultural attractions.