Officials urge patience with new Chepachet roundabout

Officials urge patience with new Chepachet roundabout

Three accidents have occurred at the partially constructed roundabout in Chepachet since July. The Glocester Police Department and Rhode Island Department of Transportation are urging drivers to move slowly and watch signage. (Breeze photo by Jackie Roman)

GLOCESTER – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Glocester Police Department are asking drivers to be patient, and drive slowly, while they grow accustomed to a newly installed roundabout.

Though the roundabout replacing the traffic lights at the corner of Money Hill Road and Putnam Pike is still under construction, it’s already creating confusion for drivers passing through Chepachet.

According to records from the Glocester Police Department, there have already been three accidents at the intersection since July. The roundabout is located down the street from Brown & Hopkins Country Store and the Glocester Heritage Society building.

The first accident resulted in minor damage, the second accident resulted in functional damage of more than $1,000, and the third accident resulted in minor to functional damage, according to the records.

“The roundabout, although still under construction, seems to be alleviating some congestion,” Lt. Matthew Fague said. “That being said, it’s the stop sign at the end of Route 100 causing problems.”

Still, Fague said, the stop sign is temporary and most residents who know the area seem to accept the roundabout and know how to follow the signs.

“It’s up to people being courteous enough to yield to each other,” Fague said.

When construction along route 44 in Glocester was first announced in July, RIDOT Communications Director Liz Pettengill said construction of the roundabout was designed to address existing traffic problems.

Pettengill said the intersection’s traffic lights are “unable to process the amount of traffic going through” and the roundabout will assist with “congestion mitigation.”

Chief Public Affairs Officer Charles St. Martin said those results might not be seen until after the project’s completion.

“They’re not fully functional,” St. Martin said. “It’s in transition right now.”

Once the roundabout is fully functional it is expected to actually improve safety in the area and prevent serious collisions, said St. Martin.

RIDOT describes a roundabout as a one-way, circular intersection built with no traffic signals. Traffic flows around a center island, with cars entering the circle yielding to traffic already in the roundabout.

The RIDOT website adds: “Roundabouts have proven to reduce fatalities by 90 percent, and greatly reduce injuries and the severity of crashes.”

St. Martin said modern roundabouts are not similar to rotaries.

A rotary is larger, can include traffic lights or stop signs, and usually allows vehicles to travel at a higher speed of 30 to 40 mph. A roundabout, on the other hand, is smaller and cautions vehicles to match a safer 15 to 25 mph speed.

For these reasons, St. Martin is asking residents to give roundabouts a chance.

“The issue that we hear a lot is people are not yielding,” St. Martin said. “So we encourage people to drive slowly and pay attention to signage.”