Changes coming to trio of bad Portsmouth junctions

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PORTSMOUTH — Three infamous Portsmouth intersections are among those targeted by the state Department of Transportation (RIDOT) for a  new low-budget traffic safety program.

The three Aquidneck Island towns will be the first targeted by the program called Rhode Island’s Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions (RISTARS) meant to improveintersections with high levels of congestion and crashes. The first area of Rhode Island included in this program is Aquidneck Island where 13 intersections are on the list.

Work in Portsmouth involves:

•  Signing and striping improvements at the intersections of West Main Road at Bristol Ferry Road and East Main Road at Turnpike Avenue.

• Restriping of crosswalks and signage work at the intersection of West Main Road and Union Street, a corner that is always on the state’s list of most hazardous intersections..

The department used state traffic statistics and also worked with the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, which studied transportation needs across the island in its 2011 Aquidneck Island Transportation Study.

“This is a systematic and data-driven approach,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “This program will help identify problem areas and provide the department with the best information possible to determine which projects to tackle first.”

Through a $345,000 contract with Arden Engineering Constructors of Pawtucket, RIDOT will make changes in signage and striping to better organize and guide traffic on the island. There will be changes to traffic patterns, with increased safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists.

Motorists will see evidence of this project this week with work on Route 138A (Memorial Boulevard), from America’s Cup Avenue in Newport to Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown.  The road will be restriped to establish bicycle lanes and share-the-road segments in each direction. In certain areas where the width of the roadway cannot accommodate a bike lane, RIDOT will install large stenciled markings it calls “sharrows” on the pavement. These indicate that motorists must share the roadway with cyclists.

There will be minimal changes to on-street parking as part of the new traffic patterns, although RIDOT will eliminate one lane of travel on Memorial Boulevard westbound from the area of Aquidneck Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue for installation of a bike lane. 

Also on Aquidneck Island, RIDOT is planning to restripe the entire length of Coddington Highway to West Main Road in Middletown. Through a safety improvement commonly referred to as a “road diet,” the Department will restripe the roadway from a four-lane traffic pattern to a two-lanes with a center turning lane. This effort is seen as a traffic calming measure that improves safety by reducing the speed of traffic.

A similar traffic pattern change was implemented on Route 138 (East Main Road) in Portsmouth in 2008 to help reduce traffic speeds and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the road.

Other work includes:

Newport:

• Installation of new striping and curbing at the rotary at J.T. Connell Highway and Admiral Kalbfus Road so it functions more like a modern roundabout.

• Installation of protected left-turn signals on Bellevue Avenue at the intersection with Memorial Boulevard.

• Sign improvements at the intersection of Admiral Kalbfus Road and Malbone Road.

• Restriping of crosswalks, and improvements to pedestrian signal crossing lights, including the addition of countdown timers on America’s Cup Avenue.

Middletown:

• Sign and striping improvements at the intersections of Admiral Kalbfus at West Main Road, East Main Road at Aquidneck Avenue, East Main Road at Turner Road, and Aquidneck Avenue at Green End Avenue.

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