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Government Letters to the Editor Reader Contributed

Letter: Arapahoe Group Development Should Be Tabled Until Traffic Flow Resolved

Rendering of the aerial view of proposed Arapahoe Group LLC development. Bohler Engineering / Beinfield Architecture (Town of West Hartford website)

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To the Editor – concerning the two Arapahoe Group development proposals:

We are residents of the Center, living on Arapahoe Road. While it’s obvious that the proposed development is not consistent with the town’s Center development guidelines and its Plan of Development, we think thoughtful residential development on those lots is both desirable and can improve the town and the value of neighborhood properties while assisting our Center merchants. We and our neighbors will warmly welcome new residents to our neighborhood.

But as a kick-off issue, whether considering a more thoughtful and appropriately-scaled development or this proposal:  Residential Arapahoe Road can not be the driveway to a major development. There’s no neighborhood in all of West Hartford where all traffic from a major new development is shunted down a small residential surface street – it’s as foolish as locating a fast food drive-through in the middle of a residential block.

Residential roads in the Center have borne the brunt of Center development and congestion in recent years. The Town recognizes this and is actively assessing Center infrastructure while trying to hold back the problem by introducing one-off traffic calming efforts such as the growing number of “one way” roads around the Center. At the same time, there are ongoing discussions of re-opening LaSalle Road to two-way traffic, maintaining it as a one-way road, or even closing it permanently to vehicle traffic – any of which decisions will strongly impact the Center neighborhoods and potentially magnify problems caused by hundreds of new daily car trips from any new development on Arapahoe Road.

Traffic calming on the streets west of the Center have added many hundreds of new vehicle trips a day to Arapahoe, Ellsworth, and Woodrow, many well over the speed limit. The Council should delay voting on this application until this problem is resolved. A decision should also wait until after we know what will happen on Lasalle Road and how that will impact our neighborhood. Finally, but most importantly, the town should instruct the developer to come back with a plan that doesn’t allow immediate traffic access through our neighborhood.

We’re confident that there are solutions to these issues that would be acceptable to the neighborhood, the town, and the developer and, as always, we encourage a constructive dialogue with all constituents. In the meantime, we strongly urge the Council to table the proposed development until the congestion and related effects can be addressed within the broader Center plan.

Thank you,
Scott and Anna Falk

Editor’s Note: The West Hartford Town Council has a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 for the Arapahoe Group LLC’s proposed zone change and Special Development District for Arapahoe and LaSalle roads. Details about the proposal can be found here.

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4 Comments

  • Great letter. I also support delaying a decision on the Arapahoe project. West Hartford is at a crossroads: recent successful development has left the town short on housing and long on crashes on its busy roadways. We should be able to create, safe walkable streets and build new residential development without needing so much parking. The Town parking garages are well below capacity most days.

    There is no reason we need to drive 40 mph on multiple lanes through the center of town, where someone was killed this summer while standing on a median at South Main and Farmington. The traditional town Center and Blue Black Square, our two most productive areas, are separated by 4-5 lanes of arterial traffic sometimes traveling in excess of 40 mph. My family has to run to make it across South Main at Farmington before the walk signal phase ends.

    There is a good process underway, the West Hartford Center Infrastructure Master Plan, scheduled for completion in Summer of 2023. A consultant is working with the Town to look at parking capacity, traffic safety, pedestrian mobility, transit connections, business access, green spaces and a host of other considerations which will help guide a better project from Arapahoe Group and a safer, more prosperous Town Center going forward.

    Our Town Center is too prosperous a place to continue allocating valuable land to gratuitous parking, especially when there is excess capacity in town-owned parking garages. Families in North America travel thousands of miles to enjoy one week of safe, car free, walkable streets at theme parks. There is no reason we can’t create this opportunity – in our own town – every week.

    • I agree with Jay that we need even more traffic calming and improved pedestrian infrastructure including walk signals longer than 10 seconds! I would even support red light cameras at this point, because the number of people running red lights has become insane. In terms of parking, I support using empty/underused surface lots like Arapahoe/LaSalle for more productive uses. Even the little farmers market looks so forlorn in that big empty lot. It’s really a poor use of prime real estate.

  • I live on Four Mile and happily support more apartments in town. It’s true that there might be more traffic, but we also experience enormous benefits by living close to town. I don’t think we can always have it both ways. That’s part of the bargain of buying a home very close to a wonderful town center. We have incredible access to services within walking distance which is rare in any part of this country, but god forbid if others want the same. I think traffic calming makes sense and it’s totally reasonable to ask the town to work on that, but I also feel like the concerns about traffic will never go away unless we actively start demolishing the places that draw people into town in the first place. Perhaps we can tear down the Post Office and the library? In the meantime it may be more constructive to focus on ways we can reduce our car dependence.

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