Questions Persist on Proposed Roundabout
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND – Town Council members had more questions at the May 17th meeting about the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Kingstown Road (Route 138), Richmond Townhouse Road (Route 112), and Carolina Nooseneck Road.
Richmond Townhouse Road, between Routes 112 and 138, would also be reconfigured, from a two-way road to a one-way, eastbound direction.
There is general agreement that something needs to be done to slow traffic at the busy intersection where many accidents have occurred, but several council members wondered about what could be done about the long line of vehicles waiting at Richmond Elementary School during morning drop-off that spills into the breakdown lane of Route 138 and would also spill into the new roundabout.
Council Vice President James Palmisciano, who chaired the meeting since council President Nell Carpenter was absent, said he believed that school drop-off traffic was a safety concern
“My biggest concern is what’s going to happen,” he said. “I went out and saw. Parent drop-off in the morning is worse than pickup. Cars would back up to the roundabout and I understand that the state will have to pay more to deal with drainage and septic but what happens when the first car gets rammed in the back?”
Rhode Island Department of Transportation engineer David Capalbo, who has been the liaison between the state and the council, was available to answer questions with a second RIDOT engineer, Brad Leach. Leach said he had not observed the morning school drop-off but added that he planned to do a site visit.
“We will getting out there at some point to observe the traffic in the morning and see what we can do to address that,” he said.
Palmisciano asked whether there would be a plan to address the school traffic before the roundabout is built, and Leach responded that a plan would be in place before the project goes out to bid in August.
Councilor Ronald Newman said had heard from residents who asked why a roundabout is even necessary.
“If we did nothing, left it the way it was, or is, is something going to happen anyway? Is the state going to do something?” he said. “I’m trying to figure out why we’re doing this. I apologize, but I get a lot of questions from people in town, and I honestly tell you, and maybe council too, no one has said to me ‘this is wonderful. This is great.’”
Police Chief Elwood Johnson said something needs to be done to improve safety at the intersection, where, over the last 10 years, there have been approximately 100 accidents.
“You’ve got people traveling at speed, particularly westbound, where the road has been widened,” he said. “People are more comfortable. They think they can travel at higher speeds. Some are familiar with it. They think they have time to slow down….46 of those crashes, about half of them, are rear-end accidents. What happens is, people come to the stop sign. There are so many intersections and places to look, that people are overwhelmed and distracted and rear-ends occur right here at 112, where people come to the stop sign, [and] they rear-end the car in front of them. The other place that happens is [route] 138, in either direction.”
The roundabout, Johnson said, would force drivers to slow down.
“The roundabout forces people into a physical softening of angle and it also reduces speed,” he said.
The state will begin construction of the roundabout next April. 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.
Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth is preparing a resolution which will formalize the town’s support of the roundabout project. She will add a provision ensuring that the RIDOT will consult with the town to ensure traffic safety at the school.
“You could prepare that and then you could come back to us for review,” Palmisciano said.
The resolution will be discussed at the May 31 council meeting.
In other business, Johnson explained the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the towns of Richmond and Hopkinton that would introduce uniform house number signs to make it easier for emergency responders to locate specific addresses.
“Some people like to put tiny design numbers, some don’t like that many numbers on their house,” he said. “It just becomes a problem in emergency response where folks like Hope Valley Ambulance try to find an address in low light conditions. This would kind of have a standard set of numbers, size, contrasting colors. It helps, in a response time, to eliminate foreseeable problems to locate a house in the event of an emergency.”
Ellsworth said the towns would purchase the number signs and make them available to residents at a nominal cost.
“They would all look the same and they would be easily legible from the street,” she said.
The council also issued a renewed call for volunteers to serve on town boards and commissions. The Planning Board is short one member, and the Zoning Board of Review is short two members - a regular member and a second alternate.
“The Zoning Board is down to five members,” Ellsworth said. “Five members is the minimum number needed for them to do business.”
While its work load can be considerable at times, the Zoning Board has not convened often in the past year. The most recent meeting was in Sept. 2021.
Beaver River Valley Community Association
P.O. Box 10, Shannock, RI 02875