Road diets in Hartford aim to keep drivers calm

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Congress continues to debate a $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. The bulk of the money would go toward fixing crumbling roads and bridges.

Many projects in Connecticut could benefit, including one dangerous intersection in the capital city.

For more than 40 years, Joseph Baker has lived in front of the complicated intersection of New Britain Avenue and White Street in Hartford.

He describes it as a nightmare.

“It’s people flying through it, a lot of accidents,” Baker said. “It finally took the right accident for them to finally decide to do something.”

The ATV packs that have been terrorizing city streets barrelled through over the weekend.

“The other night, at least 200 of them went by the house, blocking traffic everywhere,” Baker added.

The city is giving the intersection a makeover.

“We’ve had issues with speeding and poor traffic behaviors even before the ATVs, but the ATVs have given an additional reason for us to move forward urgently,” Michael Looney, the director of Hartford Public Works, admits.

Concrete barriers will redirect traffic on New Britain Avenue and White Street in the city’s southwest end, traffic lights will be re-configured, and a pocket park will expand, blocking off the area for green space. All traffic-calming measures.

“We’re trying to look at the city as a whole and work our way from one neighborhood to another to try to make as much of the city calmed from a traffic standpoint as we can,” Looney said.

The city worked with the local neighborhood revitalization zone committee to pinpoint this quality of life issue. A City Capital Improvement fund will pay for it. Around the city, major road diets are in place.

Wethersfield Avenue near Buckley High School now has bike lanes, white posts, and planters forcing drivers to slow down.

As our News 8 cameras discovered, it will take drivers time to navigate the changes. One driver pulled up behind cars in the parking lane, thinking it was a travel lane.

In the North End near Hampton Street, speed humps and an orange-colored diamond-shaped median create a pinch point to slow traffic.

A massive infrastructure bill before Congress would help fund more of these taxpayer projects.

“I’m extremely excited about the closure and making them go the other way,” Baker said.

The New Britain Avenue project is estimated to cost less than $100,000. A more permanent idea for a roundabout or rotary could cost $2 million and would take an act of Congress to fund.

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