Roundabout hearing scheduled

Artist’s conception of the proposed roundabout, available at the town clerk’s office.
Artist’s conception of the proposed roundabout, available at the town clerk’s office.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will conduct a public hearing on the plan for a roundabout at the intersection of Belden Hill Road and Wolfpit Road on Tuesday, June 5.

The session is planned for 7 p.m. at the Trackside Teen Center.

As of May 22, a photographic rendering of the roundabout project was available at the town clerk’s office.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice invited the public to attend the session during her remarks May 21 at a Board of Selectmen meeting at town hall.

The state identified this area because of high crash frequency over the last three years, with 19 accidents, three of which resulted in injuries, according to police Capt. Robert Cipolla, who advised the Board of Selectmen of the plan on April 2.

This is not the first time the DOT has focused on the intersection. In 1996, the DOT identified it as a candidate for a traffic light, but Cipolla said then First Selectman Bob Russell wanted to focus instead on widening Route 7. Congestion and traffic volume were the issues at the time, Cipolla said.

The DOT analyzed the intersection from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and found that a total of 7,043 cars pass through in a single weekday. The morning peak is from 8 to 9, with 1,480 cars, and the afternoon peak is from 5 to 6, with just under 1,400 passing through.

There is a difference between a modern roundabout and a traditional traffic rotary, Cipolla said. One difference is more design, like raised islands that force vehicles to bear to the right to enter.

Vanderslice has said she frequently gets complaints from the public about this intersection.

DOT officials said at this point no official project has been initiated, and therefore there is no funding source or schedule available. Given the existing fiscal environment, should the concept be well received and the DOT initiate a project, it will still need to be prioritized against all other active projects. The current estimate for the project is $2.5 million.