Intersection improvements are being planned for the intersection of North Main Street and Albany Avenue in West Hartford, and a public information session will be held on July 13.
By Ronni Newton
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is hosting a public information session on July 13, providing the opportunity for sharing information about long-discussed improvements planned for the intersection of Albany Avenue (Route 44) and North Main Street in West Hartford’s Bishops Corner, and also giving the community a chance to ask questions following a presentation.
The meeting will be held virtually, beginning at 7 p.m., and those who would like to attend and participate can register here. The meeting will also be live-streamed by the CT DOT on YouTube for those who are interested in viewing only, through this link.
In an announcement, the DOT stated that the project is intended to improve overall operation of the intersection, including pedestrian mobility,
“The deficiencies with current pedestrian facilities, undesirable geometry, and traffic congestion make this area unfavorable for pedestrian travel,” the DOT announcement states. “The proposed improvements include eliminating all channelized right-turn lanes and islands at the intersection. Pedestrian push buttons will be relocated from the islands to the corners of the intersection. Relocating the pedestrian push buttons and eliminating the islands will allow pedestrians to cross directly from one side of the road to the other, providing the shortest crossing distance. New traffic signals and sidewalk ramps will also be installed.”
Currently there are channelized right turn lanes at all four corners and pedestrians must first cross those lanes in order to press the button to obtain a crossing signal.
The plans for the improvements to the Bishops Corner intersection have been in the works for a long time and were not spurred by the Vision Zero Initiative that the Town of West Hartford launched earlier this year following a string of tragic events that took place in 2022. In a period of eight days in December, five people died in West Hartford as a result of motor vehicle-related incidents, and overall there were six traffic-related deaths in 2022.
The state-managed project, however, will be an important component related to the public safety goals of the town’s Vision Zero Initiative – which is “in Support of Safe, Health and Equitable Mobility with the goal of eliminating fatalities and severe injuries on West Hartford streets by 2033.”
Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association (BCNA) President Jason Congdon said that numerous projects are in the works for the area, and “pedestrian safety, beautification of Bishops Corner, and staying connected to Town Hall on local initiatives” are the main focus of the association. In addition to the Albany Avenue and North Main Street intersection improvement, other major concerns of the BCNA include new landlords for the shopping centers on the southwest and northeast corners of the main Bishops Corner intersection, the opening of new businesses, and plans for Oakwood Park on the site of the former UConn campus. An initial application for Oakwood Park was withdrawn and a revised proposal is expected to be reviewed by town staff and the Town Plan and Zoning Commission as well as the Design Review Advisory Committee.
Congdon says the BCNA helps to bring local residents and businesses members together to promote and care for the entire Bishops Corner area – which extends throughout the 06117 zip code.
Board members have already been actively involved with the DOT on the reworking of the main Bishops Corner intersection. “We encourage the local community to learn more about the elements involved and to share their input on this major project coming our way in early 2025,” Congdon said.
To accommodate the improvements, the state will be acquiring small segments of property and obtaining easements for sidewalk reconstruction and traffic signal equipment.
The project has an estimated price tag of $5,585,050, with 80% of the cost paid for through federal funds and the reaming 20% funded by the state.
According to the DOT, construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2025, but is dependent on funding, acquisition of rights of way, and permitting.
An increase in traffic fatalities are a national concern, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal last week was in Hartford, where he stood with Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto and pedestrian safety advocates to introduce his “Road to Zero Resolution” to reduce traffic fatalities and improve roadway safety for all drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and others on the road.
“Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for Americans under 54, killing over 100 people a day. In Connecticut, 73 pedestrians were struck and killed in 2022 by vehicles and 228 pedestrians had serious injuries in 2022,” Blumenthal said during a press conference.
To register for the virtual public information meeting regarding the Bishops Corner intersection improvements, click here. Registration is required to participate. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to access the meeting.
Members of the public can submit comments and questions during the two-week public comment period following the meeting. Please direct comments and questions by July 27, 2023 to: [email protected] and 860-594-2079 or Joseph D. Arsenault, Project Manager, 860-594-3471 or at [email protected]
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