Crash-prone intersections, ‘nightmarish traffic’, improved pedestrian safety, demand for Danbury area projects

Combined federal funds of $ 13.4 million could be invested in the Danbury area to upgrade crash-prone intersections and improve pedestrian safety, among other projects.

Among them is a request for $ 3.3 million to upgrade an area of ​​Highway 39, where there have been more than 50 accidents at two intersections near Danbury High School since 2015, data shows. of State.

“Any kind of improvement like any intersection helps improve the flow of traffic,” Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo said.

The project would widen route 39 to Intersections of Beckerle Street and East Gate Road, so that left turn lanes can be added to southbound approaches. Traffic lights at intersections will be replaced, while a section of Route 39 – known as Clapboard Ridge Road – will be redone.

A federal grant would cover 80 percent of the project, with the state covering the rest. The goal is to start construction in the spring of 2022, according to the State Department of Transportation.

The state noted problems at these intersections when the city sought to build the freshman academy on Danbury High School and promised to improve the area if the school was expanded.

“These upgrades are being proposed to accommodate the increased number of vehicles making left turns at these intersections to access the high school,” DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said in an email. “The collision history for these intersections shows a pattern of rear-end collisions that may be associated with the absence of left-turn lanes and substandard sightlines.”

From 2015 to 2018, the state found 21 crashes with five injured at the East Gate Road intersection and 20 crashes with four injured, including one fatal, at the Beckerle Street intersection, according to Department of Transportation data. of State. That was before the high school addition was completed in 2018.

After the expansion, 2019 data shows seven crashes with six injured at the East Gate Road intersection and 12 crashes with eight injured at the Beckerle Street intersection.

Traffic capacity and the level of service at intersections are expected to “deteriorate if no improvements are made,” Nursick said.

During a public hearing on the project last summer, a state engineer noted deterioration of the pavement on Route 39, as well as trees and vegetation on Beckerle Street, East Gate Road and Route 39 which makes it difficult for drivers to view. This would also be addressed in the project, the engineer said.

Besides the Danbury project and another in Brookfield, US Representative Jahana Hayes, D-Conn. request $ 500,000 for the Fairfield Hills parking lots in Newtown, where it is proposed to renovate old psychiatric buildings. The project would design and install non-waterproof parking systems and areas to meet the current and growing demand for parking, she said.

Nearly $ 445,000 could be used for Southbury’s plan to improve pedestrian safety at Main Street South.

Here is a list of proposed projects that could win federal funding in the Danbury area.

Traffic improvements on Route 39, Danbury, $ 3.3 million

Parking lot improvements, Newtown, $ 500,000

Main Street South Pedestrian Improvements, Southbury, $ 445,000

Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements, Ridgefield, $ 1.85 million

Highway 202 Improvements, Brookfield, $ 7.4 million

Courtesy of US Representative Jahana Hayes

“The funding would be used to improve walking and the safety and mobility of non-motorists for the many downtown school children, the older residents of the area, and aims to provide the necessary and adequate accessibility for all people in key places in the center. of Southbury, ”Hayes wrote in his request.

U.S. Representative Jim Himes, D-Conn. asked for $ 1.85 million for pedestrian and bicycle improvements around Branchville station in Ridgefield.

It is not known how many projects will be selected.

Fixed “ nightmarish ” congestion in Brookfield

The biggest claim in the Danbury area is $ 7.4 million for improvements to lower Highway 202 at Brookfield, a project First Selectman, Steve Dunn has been lobbying since taking office about six years ago.

Driving on the lower road 202 – also known as the federal road – can be a “nightmare” due to congestion, he said. Every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year was “almost totally locked down,” he said.

Part of the problem is the lack of a designated turning lane or signal for drivers turning left into Chick-fil-A, blocking traffic, he said.

The plan adds left turn lanes and signals there and elsewhere on the road.

The north end of Old New Milford Road will be converted to a one-way street, so cars can only enter via Route 202, Nursick said. There is a “low sight distance” at this intersection, which will reduce rear-end collisions, he said.

A 2015 study found 442 crashes between 2010 and 2012, 1.6 mile stretch of lower federal highway between White Turkey Highway and Highway 133.

The traffic lights between BJ’s and Kohl’s intersection and Junction Road intersection will be updated. Sidewalks will also be added between the BJ’s and Kohl’s intersection and the Costco intersection.

“The project as envisioned will make the road much safer,” Dunn said.

Beverly Drive will also receive a traffic light, so cars can turn onto Federal Road and “not get killed,” Dunn said.

State officials have told Dunn they will embark on this project whether or not they receive the federal grant, he said. The state is expected to move telephone surveys this summer and begin construction in the spring of 2022. Construction could take four to seven months, Dunn said.

Upgrades to Ridgefield’s ‘Forgotten Child’

$ 1.85 million request would allow Ridgefield and state to expand plans improve the Branchville area.

“Branchville was Ridgefield’s forgotten child,” said first Selectman Rudy Marconi. “It’s time to invest in this part of our community.”

State and local funding has already been approved to add sidewalks on the west side of Route 7, starting at the bridge north of the intersection with Route 202 and extending south to the Wilton line. The sidewalk will go up the north side of Route 102 to Florida Road. Two bridges on Portland Avenue and Depot Road will be rebuilt.

The city also wants to extend the sidewalk and water line to Branchville Elementary School, which sits over a well, Marconi said.

More money could allow the city to connect Branchville to Redding Sewer Line, which, according to him, is essential to revitalize the neighborhood. Redding may need the sewer capacity for its own project in a spinning mill, However.

“With the extra funds, we can do a lot more for Branchville,” said Marconi.

About Christopher Easley

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