Meeting held to discuss Route 9 traffic in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN --  For years people have complained about the traffic along Route 9 in Middletown.

Izzi Greenberg who lives in the neighborhood said it’s also a safety hazard. Meeting held to discuss Route 9 traffic in Middletown

“It’s already used as a cut-through for commuters,” Greenberg said. “People come off the bridge. People who come up Rt. 9. People who are trying to get from Route 3 down.”

That’s why the Connecticut Department of Transportation is proposing an ambitious plan to reduce congestion and improve safety for pedestrians and drivers along Main Street.

During a community meeting at Middletown High School Thursday evening, DOT officials explained how two traffic signals along the road cause major delays and accidents.

For example, from January 2015 to December 2017 there were 313 crashes, resulting in 91 injuries and 1 death.

“The volume of the traffic that goes just through Washington Street onto Main and down those few blocks onto the bridge onto the highway is enormous,” said Dmitri D’Alessandro who owns Middletown Framing on Main Street.

The first phase of the work includes removing the two traffic signals near Route 9 and Hartford Avenue and constructing several bridges to provide access for north and southbound traffic.

However, the effort is already getting pushback from people like Greenberg.

“Because there’s so many cars flying through,” Greenberg said. “Avoiding the stoplight. There’s more litter. There’s exhaust. It’s just not pleasant because of all the cut-through traffic and I think that’ll make it worse.”

In Phase 2, the DOT also plans to construct sidewalk bump-outs to shorten pedestrian crossing distances along Main Street.

That part of the proposal is also drawing criticism.

“I think that the bump-outs are actually going to cause a lot of issues with truck access to and from the businesses on Main Street,” D’Alessandro said.

He believes the plan could be bad for many businesses.

“There’s a lot of trucks constantly parking, double parking,” D’Alessandro said. Blocking people in. And I really think the bump-outs are really going to exacerbate that.”

The third phase of the project includes improving congestion at the Saint John’s Square and Main Street intersection by adding two turn lanes and realigning the area.

Greenberg said the plan could also adversely impact some people more than others depending on their race or class.

“The census tracks that make up the north end are the ones most densely populated by people of color in the city,” she said. “It’s also the lowest income census track in the city and as such you know bears the brunt of projects like this more frequently.”

The project may also include potential government acquisition of residential and commercial property.

The projects are expected to begin in the Spring of 2019 and end in the fall of 2022.

The plan is expected to cost more than $3 million.