WEST HARTFORD — Residents who live near the I-84 ramps on Park Road shared concerns and suggestions about proposed changes to the interchange with project planners Wednesday.
The meeting marked the start of the design process for a $4.6 million town and state project that aims to solve traffic congestion and safety issues in the area, where there have been about 150 accidents in the past three years, according to Town Engineer Duane Martin.
The project is expected to be paid with 80 percent federal funding and about $500,000 each from the town and state. It will move the I-84 off-ramp about 200 feet to the west, so that it is adjacent to the on-ramp. The move should solve several problems, partly by opening up additional space for cars between Trout Brook Drive and the ramps, Martin said.
The grade of the off-ramp will be changed to improve drivers’ sight lines, and an additional left-turn lane will be added to shorten queues and reduce the danger of maneuvering on the ramp, where vehicles coming off both I-84 eastbound and westbound converge.
Vehicles turning onto and off of the highway, as well as those going straight on Park Road through the interchange, will now be controlled by one traffic signal. Currently, vehicles getting on to I-84 do not have a signal.
Resident Marian McIntosh of Park Road said her home is “right at the mouth” of where traffic will be dumped after the ramp is moved. She said she’s worried that the new configuration will “magnify” the difficulty she has leaving and entering her driveway.
Martin assured her that the town will work with her and said the new traffic signal should help.
“You will have gaps created by the traffic signal,” he said. “It won’t be as much of a free-flow operation.”
Some residents praised the plan, but offered critiques. Like others, Tad Bistor suggested widening Park Road on the bridge over Trout Brook and maintaining two lanes for through traffic on Trout Brook Drive.
“Certainly it’s a huge improvement over what’s currently there, but I actually think it’s a little short-sighted,” he said.
The plans will continue to evolve and more public meetings will be held, Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said.
“This is a complicated project,” McGovern said. “We have a great engineering group. It really speaks to their expertise that the state is permitting us to design their road.”
By Julie Stagis, Hartford Courant