South Windsor applies for state grant to reconstruct Abbe Road

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Tue., Jul. 2, 2013
Knolls and dips contribute to the poor visibility at the intersection of Abbe Road and Robert Drive. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Knolls and dips contribute to the poor visibility at the intersection of Abbe Road and Robert Drive. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

The May 25 deaths of two teenagers in a car crash on Abbe Road has prompted town employees to reach out to the state for assistance in possibly improving that roadway. On Friday, June 28, an application signed by town engineer Jeffrey Doolittle was submitted to the Capital Region Council of Governments in response to an request for proposals for the ConnDOT Local Road Accident Reduction Program, a competitive grant periodically made available to municipalities.

“I do feel we can cut down that slope there so that it doesn't happen in the future,” said Town Manager Matthew Galligan.

Abbe Road features prominent crowns and dips. The three survivors of the May 25 crash told investigators that they were trying to “get air” over the bumps. The South Windsor Police Department's Traffic Safety and Enforcement Unit determined that the vehicle was traveling northbound toward East Windsor, at a speed between 84 and 90 miles per hour. The vehicle left the ground off a crest near Roberts Road, descended and lost control. The vehicle crossed lanes and left the the roadway on the west side, approximately at the East Windsor town line, and struck trees and other barriers before stopping.

Shortly after the crash, Police Chief Matthew Reed explained in a phone interview that he wanted to explore the possibility of altering the roadway. “We have conferred with the town engineer to see if anything can be done to mitigate the roadway issue – I don't want to go so far as to call it a hazard because hundreds of people travel that roadway every week in daylight, darkness, rain, sleet, snow, and have no issues at all,” he said.

Galligan acknowledged that most reports cite speed, rather than the roadway, as the main contributor to the crash. This is the first instance of a serious crash at Abbe Road that he has known of during his 18 years working for the town. Nevertheless, he wanted to apply for the grant to “take care” of the road before someone else imitates the actions of the crash.

Abbe Road is an older road in South Windsor. It appears on town maps dating back to 1869. “It was likely built as a narrow country farm road and follows the contours of the land with many dips and rises,” read the application submitted by Doolittle. “There is an abrupt rise or knoll about 260 feet south of the East Windsor town line where the road does not meet current standards for width or roadway geometrics.”

The application notes that about 450 vehicles travel the road per day, and the majority of drivers on the road travel at 36 miles per hour.

The application maintains that it is not the knolls themselves that pose the most hindrance to vehicles, but the poor visibility that results from the terrain.

“The real issue is that when Robert Drive comes out, it's a very blind spot because of that dip,” said Galligan.

This is reiterated in the application. “There have been numerous complaints about the poor sight line at Robert Drive and Abbe Road, and about vehicles traveling too fast over the knoll by the East Windsor Town line going in both directions, losing control and skidding into signs, yards, utility poles and trees,” it read. “Residents who live in this area of Abbe Road say it is a regular occurrence to see and hear vehicles traveling too fast over this knoll, and there are many gouge marks in the pavement on both sides of the knoll where the undercarriage[s] of vehicles have hit the road. Most of these incidents probably do not result in accidents and are not reported to the police.”

The tragic May 25 crash is one of only two reported accidents on file from the past three years. The other occurred in February 2009, when a teen traveling in a pickup truck faster than 50 miles per hour crested over a hill and swerved to avoid a newspaper delivery vehicle. The pickup made contact with the delivery vehicle and also skidded across a resident's lawn.

Galligan notes that aside from the horrific crash, the relative low amount of accidents will make it difficult to get the grant. “But if we can prove that it may be an attractive nuisance for young people who want to do a jump, we might be able to get this resolved,” he said.

Mayor Thomas Delnicki agreed. “There's not a tremendous history of accidents,” he said. “There have been kids driving awfully fast and taking risks, and that's what we're looking at here, ameliorating the risk factor there.”

“Any way you look at it, regardless of what just happened recently, it's a project worthy of consideration,” said Delnicki.

The reconstruction proposal submitted by Doolittle estimates the total construction cost to be $499,830. “There's a lot of projects throughout the state. We're hoping that ours gets to the top,” said Galligan. “It needs to be addressed.”

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