Bike lanes, sidewalk ramps, and road improvements were made last year as part of West Hartford’s Complete Streets initiative.
By Abigail Albair, West Hartford Press Executive Editor
Editor’s Note: This article appears courtesy of a partnership with The West Hartford Press, a product of TurleyCT Community Publications. To request a free copy of the town’s weekly newspaper, visit turleyct.com.
It was another successful year for “completing” the streets in West Hartford.
Town Engineer Duane Martin presented the Community Planning and Physical Services Committee of the Town Council with his third Complete Streets Annual Report during its meeting Jan. 24.
The report is required by the town’s Complete Streets Policy as a means to evaluate progress, and in it the engineering division details improvements made throughout town to make streets more “friendly” for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.
“We’ve moving in the right direction. We still have a lot to do,” Martin said.
More than one mile of new bike lanes were added, including “an extensive amount” on Ridgewood Road, Martin said, and a shorter section on King Philip Drive near the middle school. More than one mile of shared bike routes were added, including all of Still Road and Flagg Road and a section of Brookside Boulevard. Those additions were made using the Bike Facility Plan and Map that were done as part of the Complete Streets Policy.
More than two miles of sidewalk replacements were made, including the completion of the streetscape in Bishops Corner. Work in that area to repair sidewalks has been ongoing for several years, Martin said.
“That was a good project. I’m happy that’s completed,” he said.
Forty-four sidewalk ramps were replaced to provide adequate grading and detectable warning devices required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and 37 crosswalks were replaced with stamped asphalt crosswalks. Two were done at local schools, including the one at the King Philip Middle School entrance and the Smith STEM Elementary School entrance, and four were done at the intersection of Raymond Road and Memorial Road as a condition of approval for development of the Delamar West Hartford.
A project to calm traffic and improve safety was the implementation of a semi diverter at the intersection of Boulevard and Whiting Lane. The device limits turning movements as a way to address crashes involving north and southbound cars.
There have been about 60 crashes at that intersection over a seven-year period for which the town reviewed data.
For a brief length, Whiting Lane is now a one-way street as vehicles approach Boulevard from the south. Cars heading northbound are now only able to turn right. Cars heading southbound can only turn left or right, but not continue straight through the intersection.
“We haven’t had a lot of crashes [since it was implemented] so, so far, so good,” Martin said. “The challenge there is northbound we still have people going through the intersection, but we’re hoping, overall, it’s improved the neighborhood. The people on the corners are very happy.”
Other intersection improvements were made to incorporate accessible pedestrian signal equipment at Memorial and Raymond roads and Boulevard at Raymond Road as part of the development of the Delamar West Hartford.
In total, $667,000 was spent on complete streets improvements in 2017.
West Hartford’s Complete Streets Policy was adopted in July of 2015 after nearly a year of discussions and drafts. The policy regards rights-of-way that are planned, designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in such a way as to enable safe, comfortable, and convenient access by users of all ages and abilities.
“The goal of the Complete Streets Policy is to ensure our town roadways complement and enhance the surrounding land use and neighborhood character and accommodate all users, including drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and transit patrons, older residents, children and persons with mobility impairments,” the policy reads.
Specific goals include expanding opportunities for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout town, ensuring safe pedestrian and bicycle routes for children to get to school, improving and enhancing the health and physical fitness of residents by providing safe and convenient opportunities for biking and walking, improving safety by reducing the frequency and severity of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian-related accidents, and improving quality of life and local economy by providing recreational and multi-modal transportation facilities and providing non-motorized means of transportation.
Last year, the Town Council established the West Hartford Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission.
The commission was a formalization of the ad hoc Bicycle Advisory Committee, which was set up in May of 2011.
Scott Franklin, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, was present at the community planning meeting and thanked town staff for the work that’s been done since the Complete Streets Policy was adopted.
“Certainly over the past four or five years, there have been incredible strides toward making our roads more bike friendly,” he said.
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