Ideas presented to make roads around West Hartford’s Bishop’s Corner safer

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WEST HARTFORD --Proposed changes to roads in the Bishop's Corner area of West Hartford may mean a slight increase in traffic, but also a much a safer corridor.

The proposed "road diet" to the nearly 2-mile stretch of North Main Street between West Hartford Center and Bishop's Corner would mean altering the road configuration, and more specifically it would include narrowing North Main Street and creating more space for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Close to 100 people attended a discussion Thursday night by The Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association on ways to make North Main Street and the intersection of Albany Avenue safer and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

A study is being conducted into the viability of such a plan, but it is still in the very preliminary stages, and no decisions have been made.

The organization is working with a consultant team, including engineers, designers and a technical study committee of town staff, as well as representatives from local businesses.

Michael Morehouse, an engineer with Fitzgerald & Halliday, said that North Main "didn't feel safe," and noted there have been about 85 accidents a year over the five years studied.

"There are extremely high volume of accidents within the North Main Street stretch, so whatever happens, I think it's important to have improved safety," said Emily Hultquist, project manager for Capitol Region Council of Governments.

"We all agree, something needs to change, something needs to improve." Mayor Scott Slifka said.

There are couple preliminary ideas on the table. One suggests making North Main Street two lanes, adding a turning lane in the middle, then putting small bike lanes on either side. A second would be to make a 10-foot wide, two-way bike lane on one side of North Main completely separate from the road.

Morehouse also proposed a third idea: a roundabout at the entrance of the American School for the Deaf.

The study, which is expected to be completed by late 2015 or early 2016, is the result of a $75,000 state grant obtained by state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford.

"It's a really a place that felt unsafe as a bicyclist, and it's a really a place that felt unsafe to drive," Bye said.

Many residents expressed concerns about increased traffic, passage for emergency vehicles, the cost of the construction and the diverted traffic, potentially onto Trout Brook Drive.

Other residents supported the plan, hoping it would alleviate concerns of a dangerous roadway.

 

Several town council members, elected state representatives and a state DOT official were in attendance at the meeting.

CRCOG will take public input from Thursday's meeting to possibly refine its proposed concept.