The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has started a project to increase motorist awareness of sharp curves at three locations on I-95 in Providence and Pawtucket. A recent study of these areas showed that improvements could be made to decrease crash rates.
Through a $256,000 contract with RoadSafe Traffic Systems, Inc., RIDOT will be installing numerous reflective signs and markers on I-95 North and South in the area of the Thurbers Avenue curve in Providence (near Exit 18), as well as at the Pawtucket "S" curve (near Exit 29) and the Lonsdale Avenue curve (near Exit 26) in Pawtucket. The work should be finished in mid-November.
One of the most visible improvements is the placement of the words "Curve Ahead" in each lane of the highway leading into each curve, both northbound and southbound. These reflective pavement markings will be complemented by reflective markers embedded in the driving surface, delineating the lanes of travel. Other reflective markers on posts, attached to the top of Jersey barriers and affixed to the side of others barriers, will further illuminate curves and show how the highway changes direction.
"I-95 is safe for travel at the posted speed limits," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "However, everyday speeds are sometimes higher in these curves and we anticipate these improvements will grab motorists' attention and encourage them to slow down."
In a study of crash data from 2007 through 2009 in this area, RIDOT found that out of an average of 286 crashes per year, 163 were found to be related to the sharp highway curves. A majority of the crashes involved passenger vehicles and most of the incidents involved a single vehicle. About 45 percent of the crashes on the Thurbers Avenue and Lonsdale Avenue curves occurred during rain or snow. On the Pawtucket "S" curve, the percentages are higher: 76 percent of crashes occurred on wet or snowy pavement and more than three-quarters of the crashes involved just one vehicle failing to navigate the curves safely.
The safety improvements on the I-95 curves are being done at the same time as a separate project to install reflective markers along many highways throughout Rhode Island. The markers, typically mounted on short posts and called roadside delineators, are being placed on both sides of the road to complement pavement markings and better define the edges of the roadway, especially during adverse weather. Along curves and exits, their spacing is tighter, providing another visual cue of a change in road direction. RIDOT expects this project to conclude later this fall.
Anyone with questions can contact RIDOT's Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information may be available on RIDOT's website (www.dot.ri.gov) and its social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007