Misaligned intersections, poor sidewalks, dangerous crosswalks and other problems were part of a recently completed study of the Route 5 corridor in Wallingford and Meriden.
The study of a five mile-stretch in the two municipalities was done by the South Central Regional Council of Governments with input from the state Department of Transportation and residents and officials in Meriden and Wallingford.
The 1,000 page report is available via two links on the city’s website and looks at 23 Route 5 intersections from the southbound entrance ramp to Route 15 in Wallingford north to the Berlin Turnpike in Meriden. It also made suggestions for improvements that could reduce traffic clogs, accidents and increase walkability and transit access.
Three intersections were identified as accident prone. Route 5, at the Route 15 southbound ramp in Wallingford, had 74 crashes: Route 5 at East Main Street in Meriden had 58 crashes, and Route 5 at Route 71 in Wallingford (Old North Colony Road and Circle Drive) had 46 crashes.
“Our priority for the Route 5 corridor with respect to this study is the section between East Main Street and I-691,” Meriden’s Director of Public Works Howard Weissberg stated in an email. “There are viable options for improvement along this section of the corridor that can be implemented on a shorter timeframe with significant positive impacts.
These improvements could reduce queuing and delays, Weissberg continued. Because Route 5 is a state road with state-owned and controlled traffic signals, the city needs to coordinate with the DOT to determine the best course of action.
“At this time, there is no funding in place,” Weissberg said. “In addition, the city is looking for funding options for sidewalk upgrades.”
The report also addressed conditions and issues regarding pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities.
“The corridor segment in Wallingford largely serves a suburban commercial region, and the segment in Meriden serves a mix of suburban commercial, residential, and institutional uses,” the report said. “The current infrastructure facilities, land use and development along the study roadway prioritize private automobile transportation, which makes walking, biking, and use of transit unappealing.”
But while the corridor does not operate as a system that fully supports multimodal transportation, CT Transit bus routes are provided along most sections of the roadway, the report said.
Some of the recommendations include more sidewalks, sheltered bus stops accessible to those with disabilities and improved intersections and signaling for crosswalks.
“The field inventory revealed a mix of sidewalk conditions along the corridor,” the report said. “Along the roadway segment in Wallingford, sidewalks currently are not provided for a half-mile stretch from Old North Colony Road to South Broad Street.”
Rosanne Ford, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, was involved in the report. She said the lack of sidewalks is a safety concern.
“Anything that improves walkability is a plus,” Ford said.
Miscellaneous gaps in sidewalk paths also exist. Footpaths are visible in the grass along segments with no sidewalks. Sidewalks were typically at least in fair condition, but there were locations where pavement along crosswalks and driveways was in poor condition.
The Meriden segment had many more instances of sidewalks in poor condition, the report said. There are frequent segments of old slate sidewalks that are either deteriorating or not useable. Additionally, many concrete sidewalk segments had severe cracking or deteriorating ramps.
One long-term goal is to realign the Route 5 and East Main Street intersection known for delays, especially for westbound traffic on East Main Street. A rotary had been considered but issues over property rights and easements nixed the idea.
But a rotary is being considered for the junction of Route 5 and I-691 in Meriden. The goals are contingent on funding.
“All of it is a help for economic development,” said City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest, who was involved in the study. “It’s important to get people off 691 and 91 ... Improving the flow along the street will help”
Making changes to walkways and realigning intersections also makes is easier and safer to get in and out of existing businesses on Route 5, which encourages growth, Feest said.