The state Department of Transportation (DOT) is in the preliminary design stage of a traffic safety project that will create a conventional four-way signalized intersection of Church Hill Road, Commerce Road, and Edmond Road, a DOT official said this week.
In that project, the southern end of Edmond Road would be shifted westward so that Edmond Road becomes part of a four-way intersection with the other two roads. The four roads now comprise a broadly offset intersection with the southern end of Edmond Road lying about 250 feet east of the northern end of Commerce Road.
That area has one of the highest accident rates in the ten-town Housatonic Valley Regional Planning Area, resulting in the construction project to simplify traffic flow there.
DOT Principal Engineer William Britnell said the preliminary design stage of the project will identify the specific traffic issues that will need to be resolved.
Mr Britnell said he expects that a DOT public informational meeting on the project will be held in Newtown by midyear, possibly in June. At such sessions, the DOT presents its ideas for a project, with members of the public asking questions and making suggestions.
The construction work is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, Mr Britnell said. The project will cover the section of Church Hill Road lying between Commerce Road and the Exit 10 ramps for eastbound Interstate 84.
Besides the large volume of traffic that the area carries, one of the reasons the area has so many accidents is the large number of driveways present at the entrances to commercial properties. Those driveways result in turning conflicts occurring between vehicles, resulting in many collisions.
Making left turns from those driveways and left turns from Edmond Road can be lengthy and complicated. The end of Edmond Road is controlled by a stop sign, while the end of Commerce Road is controlled by a traffic signal.
At the planned new intersection, the DOT would add a left-turn lane to Edmond Road, Mr Britnell said. An approximately 1,000-foot-long section of Edmond would be shifted to the west to create the new intersection, he said.
Also, the traffic signals in that area would be synchronized to improve traffic flow, he said. Additionally, there would be a small increase in the width of Church Hill Road, he said.
The project would include the installation of some new stormwater sewers, he said. But it remains unclear whether sidewalks would be included in the project.
Mr Britnell said he expects that the project would take two construction seasons to complete, meaning that the work would be done by late 2017.
The Church Hill Road intersection project was a topic of discussion at a January 16 Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) session.
Town Director of Planning and Land Use George Benson told P&Z members that the applicant for the construction of a new gas station on the western corner of Church Hill Road and Edmond Road is expected to submit an application to the P&Z for the project soon. The site at 67 Church Hill Road holds a deteriorated building that formerly was a Shell gas station.
In 2012, the applicant, Consumers Petroleum of Connecticut Inc (CPCI) of Trumbull, received several zoning variances involving property-line setbacks for the gas station project from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). But the owner of Newtown Mobil at 64 Church Hill Road, known as Sundaram, LLC, challenged those variances in Danbury Superior Court.
The appeal, which was filed in May 2012, is pending in court. Both the ZBA and CPCI are defendants in the appeal.
Mr Benson said that the anticipated gas station application for 67 Church Hill Road would be designed so that no zoning variances are required, thus circumventing the pending lawsuit. Mr Benson noted that the pending court case could take years to resolve.
“This is complicated,” Mr Benson said of the issues surrounding the proposed gas station.
Of the DOT intersection realignment project, Mr Benson said that besides improving traffic safety, the project would open up some land in that area for development.