Traffic, traffic everywhere...
New Milford seeks solutions in traffic management plan
Updated 1:22 pm, Friday, November 15, 2013
Traffic has been a problem for New Milford for decades, and it's not about to get better on its own.
Town leaders now have much to consider after a traffic management plan was presented this week by the firm of Fitzgerald & Halliday.
Among those were a series of options for relocating Young's Field Road east along Bridge Street and making the existing roadway a pathway.
A roundabout for the intersection of Still River Drive and Pickett District Road, now a four-way stop, is on the table as a possibility.
A signaled intersection for that site would be another possibility but is not recommended because of concerns about traffic speeds through the corridor.
A roundabout would maintain traffic flow while calming speed, Morehouse said.
"We did a lot of improvements to make that corridor (of Grove Street/Still River Drive) an alternate route (to Route 7), said Public Works Director Mike Zarba. "We feel this is critical to the master plan we have for the town."
Morehouse and his team spent 14 months studying downtown traffic flow in New Milford. The study was paid by a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant.
He met with the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, the state Department of Transportation in the field, a town advisory committee, as well as holding a workshop for the public and collecting more than 300 resident responses to an online survey.
"As responsible planners and engineers," Morehouse said, "we created solutions that minimize accidents and preserved bike and pedestrian safety, as was asked for by residents responding to the online survey."
He worked closely with Zarba in developing the traffic study.
"We tried to find solutions that were cost effective," Zarba said, "developing a comprehensive plan that would work with the road system and infrastructure already in place."
Working with the state DOT was necessary because of the town's network of state roads doubling as village center streets.
The DOT would be involved should the traffic T at Route 7 and Veterans Memorial Bridge be widened to allow for two turn lanes onto Bridge Street, turns that would be signaled.
The state would also be involved to widen East Street at its intersection with Elm Street to allow for a left turn lane, with the goal of improving the traffic flow north and east.
"Of the intersections of Bridge Street, the West Street, Railroad Street and Grove Street intersections exhibit the highest frequency of crashes. A majority of these crashes are rear-end or turning movement crashes," the study reads.
Accidents in the downtown study area were found to be most prevalent on Bridge Street.
One hundred thirteen crashes occurred in 2010 through 2012, representing 26 percent of the accidents in the study area, Morehouse found.
Based on a concentration of accidents in a short segment of roadway, "Crash rates were found to be highest on Bridge Street, on the Route 7 northbound right-turn lane, and along Elm Street," the study found.
The Town Council will now reflect on the study, presented Tuesday in draft form, and meet at a date to be determined to talk about the plan.