2016-04-28 / Front Page

Two Mile Corner Upgrades

By Olga Enger

After almost a decade of planning for upgrades at two busy Middletown intersections, crews are expected to begin work in May.

The scope of the project, which is designed to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, includes upgrades to the intersections at East Main and West Main roads, the intersection at Coddington Highway and West Main Road, and surrounding roadways.

The $12 million project, which is funded through the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s (RIDOT) general budget, is expected to require 18 months of construction, according to RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin. Preconstruction work has already begun.

“We are widening East Main Road from four to five lanes, and will provide a dedicated left turn lane,” said St. Martin. “This will allow cars to turn into businesses without backing up traffic.” He added that around 25,000 cars move daily through the intersections, which are considered among the most dangerous on Aquidneck Island.

The project includes three new traffic signals, roadway improvements, ADA-compliant sidewalks, repaving, and drainage upgrades.

RIDOT had originally proposed installing roundabouts, but that idea was rejected amid strong pushback from the community.

Upgrades to the drainage systems are expected to improve stormwater runoff and the overall water quality of Bailey Brook, which is a main source of drinking water on Aquidneck Island.

Originally slated to begin last year, the Two Mile Corner project was delayed due to utility issues that were uncovered during the design process. Although RIDOT is working closely with Middletown officials to minimize disruptions, the work is a major construction effort, St. Martin warned.

“We are going to try to do work in the evening hours,” said St. Martin. “People can expect lane closures, but we have been working with the town to minimize impacts. But that being said, people should expect delays and should plan extra time.”

Toward the end of the project, the streets will be resurfaced.

“It’s a pretty good-sized area, in terms of level of improvement,” said St. Martin. “I ask that the community bear with us as we make these improvements.”

Looking into the future, Town Council approved plans to upgrade four intersections on lower Aquidneck Avenue, also to provide improved pedestrian facilities and calm traffic. That work is currently in the planning and design phase.

Although pedestrian accidents are generally rare in Middletown, a 37-year-old Bristol man was fatally struck in early April. Police said that while this was an unfortunate incident, pedestrian safety should be a priority for the town.

“I believe that more sidewalks in every community would provide a safer option for pedestrians,” said Middletown Major Ferenc Karoly.

Over the past 10 years, there have been 83 pedestrian accidents in Middletown, which make up 0.5 percent of total accidents, according to police data.

“I commend [Middletown Administrator Shawn] Brown and the council for proactively trying to reduce speeds and provide more safe areas for pedestrian traffic. Our collective goal has always been to keep anyone in Middletown safe and we work very hard on many fronts to achieve this,” Karoly said.

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