New Milford drivers ease into new roundabout
NEW MILFORD — After years of planning and months of work, motorists can use the new roundabout in town.
The project — at the intersections of Still River Drive and Lanesville and Pickett District roads — entered the third of four phases on Aug. 2, which meant the circle actually opened to traffic.
Concerned residents took to Facebook last week, expressing fears about how the new traffic pattern would roll out, but no accidents were reported.
“The major message is don’t yield when you’re in the roundabout,” said Daniel Stanton, the town’s engineer.
Switching from a four-way stop is designed to ease congestion and make the road safer because of the lower speeds, and the circular design is meant to prevent T-bone collisions.
The Public Works Department posted advice and videos to its Facebook page on how to handle the new pattern and the Police Department had road signs and two officers to help. They’ve switched back to a regular maintenance protocol, though, based on the success last week, Stanton said.
“We’re all really excited for this project,” he said.
He said it’s been a long time since New Milford had a rotary. The last one was near Bridge Street before he moved to town.
Right now, only passenger vehicles, buses and smaller trucks can use the roundabout. Stanton said the bus company has been working with its drivers and will be ready for the start of school at the end of August.
Tractor trailers can only go straight through the roundabout if they are traveling east on Still River Drive.
“Tractor trailer trucks can’t circumnavigate the roundabout until the granite curbs and truck aprons are in place,” Stanton said.
The truck aprons add width to the circle and are needed to accommodate the rear wheels of the trailer. The lanes are already large enough for buses.
The aprons and curbs will be completed during this latest phase, which is scheduled to wrap up around Sept. 20.
“Everything in construction is weather permitting,” Stanton said.
Phase four will begin after that and last about a month. This work includes milling and paving Danbury Road to the Still River Drive bridge, which Stanton said hasn’t been done in about 15 years.
“It’s overdue,” he said.
The roundabout has been years in the making. It was proposed during a traffic study the town completed several years ago. That study also showed there were delays on Still River off Route 7 and on Still River by Grove Street and Pumpkin Hill Road during the morning and evening commutes.
“Hopefully this will ease congestion on Still River Drive,” Mayor Pete Bass said.
Guerrera Construction Co. was awarded the construction contract in April and began work the following month.
The $1.1 million project is paid for using a Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant funded by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments and the state Department of Transportation.
Bass and Stanton said the project is on track.
“I’m glad the contractor is moving in a timely manner,” Bass said.