Drivers, neighbors stoked as Apponaug rotary opens

(Julianne Peixoto, WPRI-TV)

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Until the sprawling, gargantuan overhaul of Warwick’s Apponaug Circulator, the roads in Apponaug Village hadn’t been altered since the 1970’s. So lots of residents are excited about the impacts that the new roundabout — opened Wednesday — will have on traffic and business in the area.

“I think it’s gonna be a great change,” said Warwick resident Sandy Jeanhicks. “I think it’s gonna be great for the downtown business… I think it’s going to be great for people’s driving frustration levels!”

Thanks to the roundabout at Centerville Road, Toll Gate Road and Gilbane Street, her commute time is expected to be cut too; she’d usually wait at the traffic light for fifteen minutes.

After the signal was retired Wednesday morning, operations seemed to be circulating smoothly.

At first, nearby Cafe Tempo owner Thomas Buontempo said, there was a lot of congestion. “A lot of traffic. People avoided the area.” Who wouldn’t, with 25,000 cars flowing through the area every day disturbed by construction?

But now the congestion is being alleviated, he said. “I think it will greatly enhance the visibility of the site. I think a lot of my customers are going to find it a lot easier to get through.”

Roundabouts are believed to be safer and more efficient than traffic lights. But not everyone agrees with them being implemented. “I know a lot of people have a hard time driving in them,” said Paula McDonough of Cranston. “I’m a little worried about accidents.”

To that, Buontempo says, “They have to be patient, they have to reduce their speed, and I think everything is going to work out fine.”

The $71 million project is expected to be finally complete — from A to Z — by September 2017.

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