Improvements Planned to Mountain Road/Albany Avenue Intersection, Update on Park Road/I-84 Project

Preliminary plans for the improvement of Mountain Road at Albany Avenue. Courtesy of the Town of West Hartford

Town Engineer Greg Sommer said that public is invited to an informational meeting on Oct. 29 to hear more about the Mountain Road project and to provide feedback, and he also provided updates on the work underway on Park Road and the I-84 Exit 43 ramps.

By Ronni Newton

The Town of West Hartford’s Engineering Division is in the preliminary design phase of plans to improve and widen the intersection of Mountain Road and Albany Avenue, and will hold a public information session on Monday, Oct. 29 in order to provide details about the project and receive feedback.

“The plans are about 35 percent designed,” Town Engineer Greg Sommer said, and public input is encouraged before the plans are finalized.

The intent is to improve the intersection, particularly to alleviate traffic back-ups that occur on Mountain Road. About 30,000 vehicles pass through the intersection every day, Sommer said.

Sommer said that the town had applied several times in the past for grant funding for improvements to the intersection, but had been turned down because Route 44 (Albany Avenue) is a state road. What the town really has been looking to do, however, is to improve Mountain Road, which is town-owned. This time the application was made for Mountain Road, and the town received a $1.6 million grant from the state.

“It’s been a project that’s been in the making for a while,” Sommer said. “Now we’re moving forward.”

According to Sommer, the $1.6 million will cover 100 percent of the construction costs. The town will be responsible for the design work, which is all being done in house.

The overall plan is to widen Mountain Road for about 600-700 feet on each side of the Albany Avenue intersection. Most of the widening work will be taking place on the east side of the roadway, Sommer said.

Where there are currently only two lanes at the intersection in both northbound and southbound directions – a left turn only lane and right/through lane – plans call for there to be three lanes. A dedicated left turn lane will remain, and there will be a middle lane for through traffic and a shared lane for right turns along with through traffic, on both the northbound and southbound sides.

On the southbound side, Sommer said that the right lane – which drivers will be able to use for turning right to head west on Albany Avenue as well as to remain southbound on Mountain Road – will be greatly lengthened and will extend almost to Lovelace Drive.

Sommer said that there will be sufficient transition lanes for merging traffic from the intersection back into one lane on Mountain Road, and he doesn’t anticipate bottlenecks.

The traffic signal at the intersection will also be replaced as part of the project, and improvements will be made to sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. The culvert that serves Mountain Farms Brook and runs under Mountain Road will be extended.

Plans should be finalized by next fall, and then the project will be put out to bid with the intent of work commencing in the spring of 2020, Sommer said. Work should be completed by the fall of 2020.

The public information meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, in Room 400 of West Hartford Town Hall. Anyone who would like to provide feedback and is unable to attend the meeting can also contact the West Hartford Engineering Division at 860-561-7540.

Park Road and I-84 project

Park Road and I-84 intersection, at 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 25. Live Cam image from Town of West Hartford website

Sommer said that paving of the connection to the new Exit 43 off ramp from I-84 is expected to begin the week of Nov. 5, depending on the weather.

Paving will also be completed on the remainder of the on-ramp from Park Road to I-84, and to the area of Park Road between the ramps and Trout Brook Drive.

By mid to late November, the new ramps will be fully in use and Park Road will be completely reopened and new traffic signals will be in use.

Demolition will then begin on the old off ramp.

“It’s far from complete and there is still much more to be done,” Sommer cautioned. While cones will be removed and the site will be “buttoned up for the winter,” crews will return in the spring to work on the intersection of Park Road and Trout Brook Drive, and there will be traffic disruptions and lane closures associated with that work.

The paving work is very much weather dependent, Sommer said, so the schedule may shift somewhat. “We are hoping for warm days,” he said. The temperature ideally should be at least 40 degrees, and rising, for paving work to be done so that the quality meets the town’s specifications.

If the weather does cooperate, there is a chance that work could be completed on Park Road from the I-84 intersection west to Raymond Road. Otherwise that work will be completed in the spring.

Landscaping will be done in the spring, and the entire project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2019.

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  • I hope they change the merge lane on the onramp to I-84 East while doing this Exit 43 project. You need nerves of steel to attempt this maneuver and a vehicle with some oomph. You’re going uphill around a curve on the onramp, suddenly you are supposed to merge into the LEFT lane of I-84E. You soon realize, as well, you have been given maybe 100 yards before your lane runs out, and you’re merging, ready or not. Did I mention you’re entering the left lane?? You better have good acceleration on your car, too. Otherwise you are shunted out going waaay too slow onto the interstate, with the nut-jobs blazing down the 84 left lane…the speedy lane…at, oh, let’s say, 70 mph if you’re lucky. Driving around Hartford is scary enough anyway, but this merge on to 84 is even more terrifying.

  • The proposal adds 2 lanes only in the immediate area of Albany Ave. This creates a scenario where cars have to race for position to merge back into single file.

    Years back the town engineers were pursuing traffic calming techniques but this only serves to incent drivers to compete for lane position.

    Also, engineers have to decide if they are going to provide bike lanes or not. You can’t send cyclists north on Mountain Rd in a bike lane and provide nothing on the south side.

    I am unable to make the meeting but what would help greatly and cost a lot less money would be adding a median to prevent impatient narcissists from going north in the southbound lane trying to get in the left turn lane. This is routine and poses a risk for anyone turning left out of the condominium parking lot.

    Main St. and Trout Brook / King Philip provide a lot of capacity to access Rt. 44. Adding capacity to this intersection will strain what is otherwise a small, low capacity road.

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