State Department of Transportation (DOT) officials this week provided more details on their plans to improve a 1,100-foot-long section of Church Hill Road, including realigning the broadly offset intersection of Church Hill Road, Commerce Road, and Edmond Road to make it a conventional four-way signalized intersection.
Six DOT officials attended a July 22 informational session to answer questions on the approximately $4 million construction project, which is slated to start in April 2016.
Approximately 20 people attended the session, about half of whom were local officials, with affected property owners also present.
First Selectman Pat Llodra termed the project “a significant improvement for a ‘gateway’ to Newtown.”
Town officials have long sought to improve the appearance and functionality of Church Hill Road near Exit 10 of Interstate 84, when considering that many travelers on I-84 enter the local road network there.
Mrs Llodra said the planned intersection realignment will benefit businesses in the area in terms of improved traffic flow to their properties.
“Everybody benefits from this project,” Mrs Llodra said.
Mrs Llodra said she is happy that the DOT’s plans include building new sidewalks along both sides of Church Hill Road in that area.
“I’m excited that we’re finally at this point,” she said of the long-awaited road improvement project.
The project is intended to ease traffic congestion, improve travel safety, and enhance pedestrian access.
According to DOT, project engineering is slated for completion by October 2015. Advertising seeking bids for construction is scheduled for December 2015.
Matthew Vail, DOT’s project manager, said that the construction work which would start in April 2016, would continue during the 2017 construction season. It is yet unclear when, during the 2017 construction season, the work would be completed, he said. Construction seasons in Connecticut run from April 1 to November 30.
DOT project engineer Joseph Arsenault presented a slide show illustrating the various phases of the construction project.
Mr Arsenault described the many motor vehicle accidents that have occurred along Church Hill Road in the area, including turning-conflict crashes and rear-ender collisions.
About ten utility poles in the area will need to be relocated for the project, he said.
Construction work will require the occasional closure of travel lanes and road shoulders.
Steven Degen, a DOT property agent, described property acquisition aspects of the project. The DOT would need to acquire some property near the intersection of Commerce Road and Church Hill Road and also near the existing intersection of Edmond Road and Church Hill Road.
In response to a question, Mr Vail said the DOT’s lighting unit would review project plans to determine the streetlighting required for the improvement project.
Besides the 1,100 linear feet of Church Hill Road to be improved, the project will extend 1,100 feet northward along a new southern section of Edmond Road, and 200 feet southward on Commerce Road.
The affected area on Church Hill Road generally lies between the Housatonic Railroad overpass and the Exit 10 ramps for eastbound I-84.
The project will include minor widening of Church Hill Road and Commerce Road to allow for travel lane reconfigurations.
Designated vehicle-turning lanes will be included in the project.
Generally, the plans call for the southern end of Edmond Road to be shifted westward so that Edmond Road becomes part of a conventional signalized four-way intersection with Church Hill Road and Commerce Road. The southern end of Edmond Road now lies about 250 feet east of the northern end of Commerce Road.
Besides the large volume of traffic in the area, one of the reasons that the area has so many accidents is its many commercial driveways. Motorists often encounter vehicle-turning conflicts, resulting in collisions. In addition, making a left turn from the many commercial driveways and from Edmond Road often poses long waits for motorists.
Traffic signals in the area would be synchronized to improve traffic flow. The project would include the installation of new stormwater sewers.
The DOT’s sheaf of plans for the intersection improvement project are available for public review at the town land use agency office at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.