A state project is in the works to improve the accident-prone Route 7 and Grumman Hill Road intersection.

Project No. 161-141 was “initiated in 2016 following an email from the Wilton Police Department in 2015, requesting a modification to the intersection at Route 7 and Grumman Hill Road for improved operation and safety,” William Britnell, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s State Highway Design Unit principal engineer, told The Bulletin.

Britnell said there have been “multiple meetings” with town officials to discuss the need for improvements, the conceptual plan for improvements and the preliminary design.

“All the town staff we’ve worked with have been very supportive of the project and have been great to work with,” he said.

The project will widen the roadway on the west side of Danbury Road at the Grumman Hill Road intersection to accommodate northbound and southbound left-turn lanes and a minimum of four-foot shoulders. It will also include:


  • Installation of sidewalks on the east side of Route 7.

  • Replacement of the traffic signal at the intersection to better accommodate the proposed left-turn lane.

  • Installation of short left-turn slots on Route 7, south of the Grumman Hill Road intersection, at Hollyhock Lane and the commercial driveway opposite Hollyhock.

Safety and operational issues


“The addition of left-turn lanes for northbound and southbound traffic will assist in alleviating traffic congestion issues that have been a problem at the intersection,” Wilton police Capt. Robert Cipolla told The Bulletin.

“From a safety standpoint, a goal of the project is also to make it a safer intersection by adding these turn lanes, as there have been approximately 87 accidents in the area in the last five years.”

Britnell said the Route 7 and Grumman Hill intersection experiences an average of about 20 crashes per year.

The intersection currently has no lanes designated for traffic turning into ASML or onto Grumman Hill Road, said Britnell.

“That causes anyone turning left in either direction to stop in the left lane to wait for a gap in traffic on Route 7, which restricts the through traffic to one lane, reducing the capacity of the road,” he said.

“Although the signal provides an advance left-turn arrow into the factory, if the first couple of cars are going straight, that arrow is wasted and only serves to increase congestion.”

Lack of turning lanes also causes safety issues “when traffic swerves to change lanes to avoid a left-turning vehicle and when turning traffic feels pressured to make a left turn,” said Britnell.

“Providing left-turn lanes in both directions will allow left-turning traffic to wait in their own lane, out of the way of through traffic, thereby improving traffic flow and reducing crashes,” he said.

“It also allows the signal to provide advance left-turn arrows in both directions, so traffic turning into Grumman Hill Road will be able to safely make that left-turn movement.”

Construction


The project is scheduled to begin in spring 2020, with an estimated construction cost of approximately $2.67 million in federal and state funds.

Britnell said it should take “about one construction season” — April to November — to complete the project.

“Some minor work may extend into the next season, but the major road work should be substantially complete in one season,” he said.

Although most of the construction work will take place “off the existing pavement,” Britnell said, there will be some disruptions — “primarily due to utility relocations and drainage modifications.”

“Traffic on Route 7 will be maintained at all times, although during off-peak periods, it may be restricted to a single lane in one or both directions,” he said.

“Access to all businesses and residences will be maintained throughout the duration of the project.”

Informational meeting


The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Design Unit will hold a public informational meeting on the project Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Trackside Teen Center. The meeting will begin with a design presentation at 7 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer period. The snow date is Thursday, Dec. 14.

Detailed information about the project is available at the Department of Transportation’s Office of Engineering at 2800 Berlin Tpk. in Newington. Plans are also available for review at the Department of Public Works office in the Wilton Town Hall Annex.

Questions about the project may be directed to Britnell at 860-594-3274 or william.britnell@ct.gov.

Information: http://bit.ly/2k2RZy3.