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Apponaug Circulator getting mixed reviews as work nears end

The Apponaug Circulator, a $70 million Rhode Island Department of Transportation project to streamline traffic from Post Road to Interstate 95, is almost finished. (Viewer photo)

Have you driven the new stretch or roadway yet in Warwick? Some say it's a challenge.

The Apponaug Circulator, a $70 million Rhode Island Department of Transportation project to streamline traffic from Post Road to Interstate 95, is almost finished.

There are mixed reviews from motorists, so NBC 10 News decided to drive it ourselves.

Traffic was light around noon on Thursday. We drove through all the roundabouts on Route 117 in both directions, from the I-95 side to the Post Road side, and from the Toll Gate Road and Greenwich Avenue sides, too, with no major problems.

It was a far cry, though, from 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. A photo from an NBC 10 viewer showed a traffic jam that he said he was stuck in for more than a half-hour.

Janet Verrier from Warwick also complained.

“They don’t know how to yield, and the cars just back up,” Verrier said. “They get frustrated and tensions rise.”

James Moon of North Kingstown said he “likes it,” but the “new breed of drivers don’t seem to know how to yield.”

Meanwhile, David Moon said that “if you’re in the rotary, you have the right of way. You don’t have to stop and let people go” because that slows down the flow.

According to other drivers who travel through the roundabouts, light to moderate traffic is fine, but there are major problems when traffic is heavy.

Peter Alviti, who is the director of the RIDOT, said he has driven through the circulator during rush hour just to check on the flow.

“I think it was an anomaly,” Alviti said, referring to Wednesday’s backup, as there had been an accident on nearby Interstate 95, and according to reports, many drivers on the highway opted instead for the circulator. “It works a heck of a lot better that the traffic lights that were here," he said, adding that the gridlock would have been worst without the circulator in place.

Navigating three main roundabouts in less than a mile, and a fourth still under construction near Warwick City Hall, takes concentration, as well as knowing the rules of the road.

Warwick driver Rhonda Rubeira said, “It’s like you have to yield here, and here, and here. There’s just too many.”

Warwick police said there have been 122 accidents on this stretch of roadway during the past seven months. However, it’s unclear how severe they were, or if that number is lower or higher than before the roundabouts were put in.

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