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Save the Ville Presents Agenda

William Baker presents group's concerns, ideas gleaned from more than 2,000 who signed petition to stop traffic project.

The Unionville Traffic Committee hosted Save the Ville members for a second meeting Wednesday night to hear their concerns about traffic in the center and suggestions for how to fix it.

About 75 people, including Town Councilors, the traffic committee and dozens of Save the Ville members, New Horizons residents, state Rep. William Wadsworth and local officials sat in on the meeting to hear the Save the Ville presentation.

William Baker, former Town Council candidate, represented the group, summarizing the concerns shared by more than 2,000 residents as they stopped to sign the petition against the New Britain Avenue relocation plan in November 2011.

The group named eight areas of concern with some suggestions for improvement:

  1. Rails to Trails crossing is dangerous
  2. School bus stop at Railroad Avenue blocks the intersection for a minute six times a day; is dangerous
  3. Truck access at Depot Place is dangerous 
  4. Cut through at AirTool Sales & Service 
  5. Southbound turn onto New Britain Avenue 
  6. Synchronized crosswalks on the north and south sides of the bridge stop traffic unnecessarily
  7. CVS plaza doesn’t line up with Mill Street
  8. 5-way intersection

*Click through the to see the presentation and read the group's suggetions.

“We’re not here to present a proposal of how to fix traffic because we haven’t seen the studies the traffic committee has,” Baker said, noting that he had requested them.

He had, however, pored over committee meeting minutes and stressed he was passing on the feedback of the community, as the traffic committee had requested.

The committee, originally charged by the Town Council with involving the public in finding a solution to Unionville’s traffic problems, held several meetings with residents, beginning with the November 2010 charettes, then a rash of meetings with property owners that would be affected by the New Britain Avenue relocation plan, and finally the public hearing Nov. 15.

But though the charettes generated more than 300 ideas, the committee failed to really engage the public until after the New Britain Avenue plan had been approved by the Town Council on a 5-2 vote. That’s when it caught the attention of a handful of residents, who formed Save the Ville.

“It may have taken a resolution of support from the Town to trigger more input but it’s important, should we have a project here,” said Tom Borden, the Department of Transportation member working with the traffic committee.

Many of the ideas Baker presented were the same or similar to the hundreds the committee received at the November 2010 traffic charettes, in their inboxes or from neighbors on the street.

Baker said a roundabout, suggested for the five-way intersection at Lovely Street and Farmington Avenue, is continually brought up by residents.

“The roundabout was a very serious idea that we looked at for a long time,” said John Vibert, traffic committee member and town councilor.

Ted Lindquist particularly favored the idea but the volume of traffic to the area would require the roundabout have two lanes, making it too large for the intersection without removing the Masonic temple. And since the Mill Street/Riversedge intersection would be so close, it too would have to be a roundabout to prevent traffic backup. Finally, a roundabout would make the area impossible for pedestrians to navigate and the idea was eventually rejected, Vibert said.

The traffic committee has considered almost all the ideas, said Police Chief Paul Melanson, who is also a traffic committee member.

Still, the traffic committee will review the ideas Baker presented and bring some options to the public in a meeting Feb. 29. The options will range from doing nothing to constructing a larger bridge, with several plans in between. The committee has also begun to look at making New Britain Avenue one way.

“We need to try to get the community coalescing around one of the plans on the spectrum,” Vibert said. “And people need to understand that the more you do, the more you improve traffic.”

The traffic committee is nearing its 30th meeting but talk about solving Unionville’s traffic problems dates back even farther. This is now the sixth traffic committee to examine the issue.

“This needs to stop. We need to come up with several solutions, then decide what’s the best idea. We keep talking about it, then we get new people to talk about it,” said Matthew Pogson, a resident on the Unionville Historic District Commission. “We need to finally buckle down and make some decisions.”

On Feb. 28, the Town Council will hear a presentation at 7 p.m. at Town Hall from a DOT bridge expert on the safety and expected future of the Unionville bridge.

The Feb. 29 public meeting with the traffic committee will begin at 7 p.m. at the Community and Senior Center.

Robin Lindstedt February 09, 2012 at 12:08 PM
I take exception to item #4. You're asking a business to close itself down, seems contrary to the goal.
pam doe February 09, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Why doesn't the committee try the easy solutions first: left-turn arrow at the beginning of the cycle and again at the end at New Britain Avenue, allow right turn on red to go southbound onto New Britain Avenue, allowing cars to turn right on Mill Street, andleft arrow out of plaza turning onto Route 177 would all be relatively quick and low-cost, and could make a difference in traffic flow.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) February 09, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Pam, please register under your first and last name. The committee has already implemented a number of easy solutions, like right turn on red at West Avon Road and moving the lanes on New Britain Ave. The left arrow has been discussed and I don't remember offhand why it wasn't put in place. I believe right turn on red at New Britain Avenue is not feasible because of the large amount of pedestrian traffic in the area.
Sas February 09, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Nils no one wants to see a business close. YOU are the person who was upset about traffic cutting through the open gate. It was just suggested that the gate be closed during high traffic hours. You have another entrance and exit.
Sas February 09, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Even if the gate is closed permanently it will never hurt any business.
Robin Lindstedt February 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
@ Sas, I'm not Nils. Thank you.
Sas February 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Oh Robin I am so sorry....I am an idiot. Sorry Mrs. Lindstedt!
Saul Freedman February 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Thank you whoever for bringing up the crosswalks. Seems like they go off every 2 minutes.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) February 09, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Arleen, while the traffic committee may have reviewed this idea, I don't think I've heard it at a meeting. Someone suggested no through traffic on New Britain Ave., though.
stephanie smith February 09, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank Kaitlin. once again you got the info out.a lot of the people believe the town should have started with the easy fixes. A left hand turn arrow for people turning onto New Britain Ave. At the beginning of the cycle and or a longer arrow was such a great idea but never happened. The current synchronizedl crosswalks definitely hold up traffic. It doesn't take destroying homes or businesses to fix these problems! They need to stop talking and start acting on these simple solutions that don't cost 10 million dollars!
arleen kline February 09, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I apologize if this is an old idea (I'm not able to attend Wednesday night meetings). I believe if you deny the left hand turn onto New Britain Avenue during rush hour this will ease the backup that occurs at that intersection during peak hours. Driving further up Plainville Avenue and taking left turns onto Coppermine, West District Road or Meadow Road brings drivers to their same destination which is New Britain Avenue. Denying left turns on certain streets is done throughout the Boston area and this is a solution that works. People become accustomed to the hours of access of certain streets and they find different routes. Also Farmington Avenue in Hartford becomes one way between 4 and 6 pm. So people can get used to different access at different times of the day. It becomes second nature.
Robert Parker February 09, 2012 at 03:15 PM
All of these ideas/suggestions have already been brought up and discussed over the last year and a half. It is insulting to all the residents, town council members, and town engineers have have worked tirelessly with the traffic committee formulating different ideas. The "Save the Ville" people have all the right intentions, but where have they been for all this time? So basically, we are back to charettes and more meetings. It's just wasting everyone's time. Simple solution...take 3 feet of sidewalk in front of 7 Eleven and create, and mark, a left turning lane onto New Britain Avenue from southbound South Main Street. Total cost of about $35,000. 80% of Unionville's traffic issues would be fixed. Without major changes. Without closing anyone's business. Without taking anyone's home. Keep it Simple.
Robert Parker February 09, 2012 at 03:18 PM
And then we need to discuss a more permanent solution....another river crossing at or near Monteith Drive.
stephanie smith February 09, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I totally agree with Mr. Parker and so do a lot if the people that we have talked to. The designated left hand turn lane was in last nights presentation. I just want to try to answer Mr.Parker's question about where were the Save the Ville people during all the traffic discussions. A lot of us were at the meetings. We watched dozens of people speak out against the drastic changes and ask for simpler solutions. We only formed the group after the town council meeting where they voted to take homes and business by eminent domain. I still don't believe that is the answer. I do believe they need to talk less and act more on these simpler solutions.
April Rogers February 09, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Robert, I couldnt agree more!!!!! What I dont agree with tho is the proposal of a rotary or "roundabout". I think they are very dangerous. I travel thru Greenfield, MA almost every weekend and I cringe when I get there. Most people do NOT yield as they are supposed to and it is very dangerous to other motorist and pedestrians trying to cross at the road openings. The roadways are clearly marked yet every time, without fail people dont even look and just go. Bad bad bad idea!!!!
Sas February 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Robert I do not understand your comment. We have been here all along and I, for one, have been to two huge meetings on a new bridge (over a 30 yer period). This is dragging on not because of the residents but because of the committee. We keep making suggestions, as you have, about shaving back corners of the roads to make right turns available but get poo pooed or are given one excuse or another as to why the small fixes won't work. The problem lies on the North side. That needs to be fixed first and in baby steps. Nothing as drastic as ripping apart a viable part of town, with zero funding to repair it, is the solution.
Robert Parker February 10, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Amen to that!
Robert Parker February 10, 2012 at 04:36 AM
People cannot even figure out the roundabout in front the Senior Center, let alone at a major intersection. A horrible idea from the start.
Robert Parker February 10, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Sorry, I really do not mean to upset the people who have been involved. Please elaborate on the "north side". The majority of the problems exist at the New Britain Ave and South Main Street intersection. Period. Exclamation point.
Sas February 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Robert, have you been to the meetings? The North side problems are huge and have been discussed at length....... repeatedly. The New Britain Avenue problem takes an arrow to fix the delay and the South Main intersection is what it is...... rush hour traffic like in any small town in the state with commuters passing through. I spent two weeks 8 hours a day viewing the situation. The problem is not coming down the hill from the North side 177. Period. !!!!!!
Robert Parker February 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
By 'North Side', I thought you meant north side of the bridge and was hoping you would be more specific. I agree, the traffic coming down the hill on Route 177 norhhbound is NOT the problem. The main problem of all Unionville traffic is the intersection of South Main Street (Route 177) and New Britain Ave/Railroad Street. If cars are taking a left turn onto New Britain Ave. (from south Main-southbound) are not intelligent enough to move to left as far as possible, cars cannot pass on the left. Traffic then backs up in seconds, over the bridge and into the Mill Street/Riversedge intersection. A few seconds after that, the intersection at the 5 corners is completely clogged. All because a few cars can't move over. Again...simple solution...make a left hand turning lane on South Main Street to New Britain Ave. Simple. Cheap. Quick. Smart.
Sas February 10, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Thanks Robert!!!!
pam doe February 11, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Kaitlin, if these solutions had already been discussed, why were they presented again on Wednesday? Just wondering, because sometimes committees dismiss good ideas out of hand without really thinking about them thoroughly.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) February 11, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Pam, the presentations made at this meeting were the ideas of Save the Ville members, heard from the public while the group gathered signatures on a petition for a special meeting to overturn the traffic committee's recommended plan to relocate New Britain Avenue. The committee was giving the group the opportunity to share its ideas. Many of the ideas were discussed and rejected by the committee, in many cases, because they didn't work or created new problems. However, in general, the public wasn't at the meetings during which the committee reviewed the suggestions so they are not aware of the reasons the committee rejected them. I'm sure the committee members would be willing to pinpoint the reasons in each case if asked.

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