The South Central Regional Council of Governments plans to study traffic along a 5-mile stretch of Route 5 in Meriden and Wallingford and recommend ways to ease congestion.
The survey was requested by Meriden and Wallingford officials in 2017 because of concerns about increasing congestion and development along Route 5. It will focus on the intersection of Route 5 and Route 15 north in Meriden to the intersection of Route 5 and Route 15 south in Wallingford.
SCRCOG is expected to enter a contract this week with Wethersfield-based engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., according to the group’s Deputy Director Stephen Dudley.
The study, expected to start soon after the contract is finalized, will review pre-existing traffic and parking to determine short and long-term improvements to traffic flow. Possible changes include adding lanes.
“It’s basically a review of all the components of how that corridor works,” Dudley said.
Meriden Public Works Director Howard Weissberg said the 5-mile stretch has 21 traffic signals.
“It’s definitely a corridor we want to study further,” he said.
Dudley said SCRCOG hopes the study will be completed by the end of 2019. Recommendations will be submitted to the state Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining the state road.
SCRCOG, one of nine councils of government in Connecticut, is made up of 15 municipalities and provides a platform for inter-municipal coordination, cooperation, and decision making. The group recently conducted a similar traffic study of the East Main Street corridor in Meriden.
The new Route 5 study will update a 2006 study that examined traffic on a 2.5-mile stretch from Cedar Lane in Wallingford to Ann Street in Meriden, according to the study application. The application noted the section of Route 5 between Ann Street and I-691 had traffic volumes of approximately 16,000 vehicles per day in 2013. Eight hundred and seventeen crashes occurred on that portion of the corridor between 2013 and 2017, with 284 involving injuries, the application said.
Route 5 congestion has been a topic in Meriden recently as land use boards reviewed an application to allow a car wash on three residentially zoned parcels along the state road, across from Ted’s Restaurant.
Neighboring residents have objected, saying traffic in the area is already congested and at times unsafe for cars pulling onto Route 5.
After listening to residents at a public meeting earlier this month, Council Majority Leader David Lowell said he was encouraged to learn the traffic study will be started soon.
“That is critical because it’s independent of any emotional concept about new development. It deals with the current conditions, which (residents) brought up loud and clear,” Lowell told residents.
Brian Ennis, Meriden’s associate city engineer, said the city would like to see the study completed quickly because the state plans to pave Route 5 this summer.
“If there’s going to be any lane changes or anything, we need to get those planned out before they actually pave the roads because once they repave the road and restripe it... we’re not going to be able to get them to change anything,” Ennis said at same meeting.
Dudley said while the entire study won’t be completed by the summer, enough may be done to make some “immediate” recommendations.
“They're going to try to do what they can to coordinate with the paving,” Dudley said.
Dudley said SCRCOG plans to hold public hearings sometime in the spring or summer.
“We’ll be adequately publicizing the meetings so that we make sure we get the most public participation possible,” he said.
Weissberg said the city is also planning to hold informational meetings as the study progresses.
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