DOT hosts public information meeting on center road improvement project

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On Jan. 15, representatives from the Connecticut Department of Transportation presented information on the current status of the project to reconfigure Granby center. The 90 residents gathered in the Senior Center saw an array of photos, maps and charts that explained what has been planned to improve the intersection of Routes 10/202, 20 and 189.

Project engineer Joe Arsenault gave a history of this project. In 1998, the Capital Regional Council of Government (CRCOG did a study of the Rte. 10/202 corridor as requested by the town. In 2011-2013, the town requested financial assistance from CRCOG to make improvements in the center. In March 2016, the DOT held its first public information meeting in Granby, explaining its preliminary ideas for widening, lane additions and sidewalks. That was followed in March 2017 with a more detailed presentation of the initial design features. A meeting was held with town officials in the summer of 2018.

Since much of the project’s area of potential effect falls within the Granby Center National Register of Historic Places, the State Historic Preservation Office was consulted. The office determined that the project would have no adverse effect on the historic properties in the area. It was determined, however, that there are some bats nesting in some of the trees in the project area. Considering that these animals are in great decline, the state will not take any of those trees from May 15 to August 15, the nesting period.

Data collected showed that in an average 24-hour period, about 14,000 cars travel through the intersection on Rte. 10/202. Crash studies in the three-year period from January 2014 to December 2016 show a total of 108 crashes (48 of which were rear-enders) resulting in 26 injuries.

Arsenault explained that the purpose of the project is to improve movement through the center, reduce congestion, improve the turning radius for trucks — all of which will help to prevent accidents. Additional safety features will include more sidewalks, cross-walks and pedestrian islands. If affordable, granite will be used for the curbing; street lamps will match the newly installed ones south of the center. Thirty-two utility poles will need to be re-located and some drainage modifications may be necessary.

Specifics of the Project

As written in the DOT report, the specifics of the project include “widening Rte. 10/202/189 to provide five 11-foot lanes with four-foot shoulders, allowing for an additional left turn lane in each direction. Rte. 10/202 north of the northerly intersection will be widened to allow for five lanes including an exclusive left-turn and two through-lanes in the southbound direction, along with two receiving lanes in the northbound direction. The Rte. 20/189 leg of the northerly intersection will be realigned to better establish the east-west movements at both approaches by reducing the heavy skew angle and providing a more defined right turn onto Rte. 10/202/189. The Rte. 20/189 leg will also be widened to allow for an exclusive left-turn lane, a through lane, a right-turn lane, and two receiving lanes. The Rte. 20 westbound approach to Rte. 10/202 will be widened to allow for an exclusive left-turn lane, a through lane, and a combined through/right-turn lane. At the southerly intersection, Rte. 189 will be widened to allow for two receiving lanes from the double left-turn lanes on Rte. 10/202/189. The southern leg of the intersection will be widened to provide a dedicated left-turn lane into Stony Hill Village and Small World Day Care.”

During construction, bi-directional traffic will be maintained during rush hours. Night work will be considered, but a limiting factor will be the residences in the area. Bank Street will be a convenient detour during part of the construction.

Property Acquisition

There will be some property acquisition necessary. The process begins with the resident or business receiving a letter of intent from the state. After valuation, an offer of just compensation will be made. The owner will have three days to consider the offer after which negotiation may occur. Hopefully there will be agreement, but if not, the state would initiate acquisition by eminent domain, for which there is a six-month appeal period.

It is expected that the design specifics will be completed in early 2020, with the project going out for bids for construction during the summer. Construction should begin in the spring of 2021. The project should take about two years to complete, depending on how much night work can be done.

The cost of the project is $7,730,000, of which 80 percent will be covered by federal funds and 20 percent by state funds.

Public Input

When opened up to residents for comments and questions, it was clear that not all are in favor of this project. It was questioned how the relatively low number of accidents compared with the amount of traffic was enough to validate two years worth of considerable disruption and delays. It was noted that the expense was too great, considering how both federal and state budgets are constantly being cut.

Many residents, especially those who sit in traffic during rush hours, were in favor of the project, however.

Other comments and questions included the following. The new sidewalks were just installed in the center; what a shame some of them will have to be removed so soon. If tolls are instituted on the major highways in the near future, will there be even more traffic on the “back roads?” Will the small businesses in the area be compromised by blockage to entrances during construction? (Reply: access will be maintained.) Could we install flashing yellow lights like there are in Southwick for left-hand turns if there is no traffic coming? (Reply: Connecticut does not allow them at this time.) Will the Drummer building be safe after the road is widened? (Reply: yes; a second interior curb will be installed to shore up the bank in front of the building.) Finally, a suggestion was made to have directional signs painted on the road surface far enough away from the center to warn drivers of upcoming lane decisions that will have to be made.

Arsenault noted that all comments and recommendations made at the meeting would receive consideration by the DOT. A form was provided for anyone who wished to make additional written comments, suggestions or questions.

Documents related to this project are available for public inspection (and copying) at the DOT engineering office at 2800 Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., holidays excluded.