Council Hears Details of New Roundabout
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND – Town Council members received new information at their Tuesday meeting regarding the timeline for the construction of the new roundabout at the intersection of Kingstown Road (Route 138), Richmond Townhouse Road (Route 112), and Carolina Nooseneck Road.
First proposed in 2019, the roundabout is expected to improve safety at the busy intersection, which has been the site of multiple vehicle accidents over the years. Another significant change will be the reconfiguration of Richmond Townhouse Road, between Routes 112 and 138, from a two-way road to a one-way, eastbound direction.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation engineer David Capalbo explained that the Richmond roundabout will be different from the roundabouts in the Apponaug village of Warwick because it will have a single traffic lane rather than two.
Councilor Ronald Newman asked Capalbo how traffic would flow through the new roundabout, given the volume on the three busy roads and the number of trucks passing through the town.
“How is this going to be, as far as trucks going in and out, cars, I mean I think the numbers, and I don’t know what they are, are phenomenal on those roads,” he said.
“Similar roundabouts have been built in other high-volume roadways,” Capalbo replied. “…Apponaug is something that comes to attention, Route 117 in Warwick. Apponaug is actually a fourlane roundabout, two lanes in each direction. This would only be a one-lane roundabout in each direction.”
Town Council Vice President James Palmisciano then raised a question about the DOT design plan of the intersectionpresented at the council meeting. The rendering presented to the council appeared to be no longer accurate, he pointed out, pre-dating the reconfiguration of nearby Richmond Elementary School, which took place in 2019.
“You can see here at the top of the north side of 138 is Richmond Elementary School,” Palmisciano said. “That image of the lay of the land is an old picture and they’ve redone their entryway, so it doesn’t look anything like that, so I was wondering whether that could be at least updated.”
One of the concerns, Palmisciano added, is the volume of morning traffic in front of the school as parents drop off their children.
“The parent pickup and drop-off procedure they have there in the morning, if you look at this right now, where cars back up to, are pretty much right here sometimes,” he said, pointing to the drawing. “So, you’re going to have, potentially, people backing up into a roundabout, so that’s something to be concerned about.”
Capalbo agreed that the drawing did not reflect the final design plan.
This prompted Councilor Newman to request a current design plan.
“Looking at old pictures, with no disrespect to you, it’s not the quite the right thing to be looking at, so if we could have the right thing, forward, and then, maybe, meet with you again? Are you comfortable meeting, because again, no disrespect, but it’s kind of ridiculous to be looking at something and we’re asked to have our opinion and we don’t have the right stuff,” he said.
Council President Nell Carpenter noted that a small garden on one side of Route 138 will be lost when the roundabout is built and asked whether flowers could be planted in the center island.Capalbo said an island planting bed would be possible.
One resident, an avid cyclist, wondered about a bicycle lane in the roundabout, which, Capalbo said, would not be possible due to safety concerns.
“There are bike lanes proposed within the approaches to the roundabout, but there is no bike lane itself in the roundabout,” he said.
The DOT will solicit bids for the project in August and construction will begin in April, 2023. Work will take place at night to minimize traffic disruptions and will be suspended altogether during the Washington County Fair, from Aug. 17 to Aug. 21.
The project is expected to be completed by Dec. 15, the official end of the Rhode Island road construction season.
In other news, Town Administrator Karen Pinch announced that she had heard from Congressman James Langevin’s office that two recent grant applications submitted by the town had been denied.
The funding requests were $208,000 for an integrated, town-wide security camera system and $490,000 for a new communications tower. The tower would be located in Richmond but the funding request was submitted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.
“Those were the projects for the radio tower and the camera system,” she said. “As you know, we did receive $587,000 through his office in the last round, so, you know, we can’t be surprised that we don’t get funded two years in a row.”
The council also passed a resolution opposing proposed state legislation that would allow the sales of wine and malt liquor byconvenience stores, grocery stores and markets.
Reasons for the town’s opposition include the potential financial impact on Richmond’s two package stores, more work for the police in enforcing underage drinking laws and no tax revenue for the town.
The second resolution called for the restoration of state aid for school transportation. When the financial incentives for regional school districts ended in 2010, they were replaced, in part, by categorical aid for transportation. The amount requested by Gov. Dan McKee for transportation aid this year will result in a shortfall of $590,584 for the Chariho Towns of Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton.
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