Council hears plans for Harris/House intersection

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Feb. 15, 2013
Town Engineer Dan Pennington said all residents' input would be considered as the re-alignment plans for the intersection move forward. Photos by Steve Smith.
Town Engineer Dan Pennington said all residents' input would be considered as the re-alignment plans for the intersection move forward. Photos by Steve Smith.

Town Council members, as well as Glastonbury residents, were given another opportunity to weigh in on the proposed reconfiguration of the intersection of Griswold, House and Harris streets at a public information hearing on Feb. 12.

The project was approved for grant funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant program from the Federal Highway Administration. Eighty percent of the estimated $1.6 million estimated cost would come from the federal grant, with the remaining 20 percent funded locally.

The town had previously acquired the property at 210 Griswold St. and removed the house there. The re-alignment would create a slight “S-curve” on House Street (primarily in the space on that property), to align it with Harris, directly across Griswold.

Town Engineer Dan Pennington said the congestion problems are well-documented and are at their worst during the evening rush hour. The intersection carries approximately 13,000 vehicles per day, and queuing often extends back to Main Street.

He said one of the main contributors to the congestion at the intersection is that the left-turn lanes from House and Harris streets cannot proceed concurrently, and that the through-movement (straight from Harris to House, and vice-versa) is also “robbed of green time.”

Pennington said House would have two lanes – one for vehicles going straight or turning left, and a right-turn only lane – and Harris would have a dedicated left-turn lane and a straight/right-turn lane.

The problems, Pennington said, would be largely mitigated because the delay of through-movement on Griswold Street would change from an estimated 178 seconds to 35 seconds.

New signals would be put in place, and coordinated with the signal at the bottom of the ramp from Route 2, which is to the west on Griswold Street. Pennington said the details of the timing would still need to be worked out.

“We think we can make a dramatic improvement here,” Pennington said, adding that design would likely proceed after the conclusion of the public hearing, scheduled for March 5, and the construction would be scheduled for the 2014 construction season.

Griswold Street resident Erin Sheridan said she was concerned about the ongoing traffic issue, and has seen accidents because of it. She added that when the construction is complete, the queuing would almost always block her driveway. She was also concerned that the current width of the roads does not quite accommodate a full two lanes.

“What happens is people get angry, and are swearing and beeping their horns,” she said.

Pennington said the lane width would be increased, and a 2-foot shoulder would be added, and that he would look at adding pavement markings and/or signs to mitigate Sheridan's driveway concern.

Another resident, speaking for her elderly father who is a House Street resident, asked about the new lane configuration.

Pennington said the edge of the road would be further away from homes on the east side of House Street, and the property could be retained by the town, or possibly conveyed to the property owners.

Councilman Kurt Cavanaugh asked what modeling of the traffic timing was done. Pennington said computer simulations are the main tool for the traffic survey, along with observed traffic volumes.

“You play with the model to get a balance that you feel is appropriate,” Pennington said. “What you're striving for is a level of service on all approaches, not just one approach, that is acceptable.”

Pennington said the comment period is actually open for two weeks. Residents may address questions or concerns to his office, and all comments received would be entered into the record, and considered as plans go forward.

Council Chair Chip Beckett said the council would hear the matter again at its meeting on March 5, and a resolution is expected.

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