BURRILLVILLE – The R.I. Department of Transportation is putting the finishing touches on a road safety assessment report for Route 102, which could see construction of road safety improvements, including advanced dilemma zone detection systems and rumble strips, early next year.
“We are still finalizing the Road Safety Assessment report for the Route 102 corridor,” said DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros. “The document will incorporate comments from all of the parties involved in the review and will be used to develop plans for improvements based on the findings.”
According to Amoros, the department is scheduled to advertise the project this winter so construction can begin in the spring.
The town had its share of serious accidents on Route 102 over the summer, including a July 11 crash that killed two teenagers.
The first in the string of local accidents on the state highway took place on July 9 when 37-year-old Providence resident Massiel Ortiz died after her vehicle collided with another vehicle on Route 102. Four others were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, including a man, his 1-year-old son and Ortiz’s two teenage daughters.
On July 11, two teens were killed when a sedan and a minivan collided head-on on the same section of Route 102. Killed in that crash were Shannon Heil, 19, of Burrillville, and Markell Torres, 19, of Easthampton, Mass. They were in the sedan with a third person, William Scurry, 21, of Woonsocket, who was treated at the scene for a minor injury. Stephanie Jalette, 34, of Burrillville, was alone in the minivan and survived the crash.
(On Wednesday, the Burrillville Town Council voted to deny and refer to the town’s insurance carrier a petition by Torres’ mother, Dawn Torres, who is seeking compensation in the death of her son.)
The third crash took place on July 15, sending a grandmother and 1-year-old child to the hospital after their car was struck by a driver who was cited for running a red light at Route 102 and East Avenue.
Shortly after the accidents, the DOT conducted a road safety assessment study along the entire corridor of Route 102.
While police say the accidents were all the result of operator error, the DOT agreed to do the audit to find ways to make it safer.
Recommendations in the audit include increasing the space between opposing travel lanes, reducing road shoulder widths, and updating existing traffic signals to include advanced dilemma zone detection systems.
The assessment also proposes rumble strips in the center median and the shoulder to provide distracted drivers with a wakeup call should they divert from their travel lane.
If installed on Route 102, state traffic engineers believe rumble strips could be an effective countermeasure for preventing roadway departure crashes.
Rumble stripes is the term used for strips painted with a retro-reflective coating to increase the visibility of the pavement edge at night and during inclement weather conditions. The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips alert drivers when they leave the traveled way.
There are two main applications of rumble strips - centerline rumble strips, which prevent head-on collisions and opposite-direction sideswipes - and shoulder rumble strips, which prevent run-off-the-road crashes.
The DOT’s assessment of Route 102 also recommends updating existing traffic signals to include advanced dilemma zone detection systems.
The technology works by modifying traffic control signal timing to reduce the number of drivers that may have difficulty deciding whether to stop or proceed during a yellow phase. Traffic engineers say this could reduce rear-end crashes associated with unsafe stopping and angle crashes due to illegally continuing into the intersection during the red phase.