The Unionville Traffic Committee met with Save the Ville leaders Wednesday night to regroup after the New Britain Avenue Relocation Plan was passed, challenged by Save the Ville, and rescinded. Questions remain about whether the plan can be altered and saved, if residents have other solutions or whether to leave the area alone.
The small group at the traffic meeting disagreed.
Megan Parsons, a Save the Ville leader who lives above Parson’s Hardware, said there simply is no traffic problem.
“I don’t think it’s a priority in our town. I think there are other things that could be focused on,” Parsons said. She indicated many of the people she talked to during the petition signing agreed.
A few others did not.
Something has to be finalized,” said committee member Tim Eagles, also a Unionville Business Cooperative member. “There are a lot of businesses saying traffic is one of my problems … We have businesses in town we want to support and we’ve lost a lot of them partially because of traffic.”
Sue Anne Ward, who put in the majority of hours soliciting signatures outside of Parson’s, said about 30 percent of the people she talked to said there was no traffic problem. Sixty percent, she estimated, admitted there is a problem but felt the committee’s plan was not the answer.
Committee spokesman John Vibert said they would not go forward with a project residents are opposed to but that the committee wants to get a sense of how the public feels about it.
“One of the real blessings here is people are finally focused on the issues. What we want to do is capitalize on this attention to lay out a full range of options,” Vibert said.
To gauge public sentiment, the committee will hold a townwide informational meeting in the future. A date for that has not been set.
The committee will meet again Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Police Department to hear from the Save the Ville group. The committee asked the group to present a list of concerns with the New Britain Avenue Relocation plan.
The traffic committee and the Department of Transportation have discussed possible ways to assuage residents’ concerns about the relocation plan, including moving LA Styles back instead of demolishing it, getting property estimates and doing architectural sketches of the design.
The committee also asked the group to present a list of possible solutions gathered from speaking with the 1,700 people who signed the petition.
Save the Ville members made a few suggestions Wednesday night, including a green arrow to turning traffic at New Britain Avenue at the beginning of the green light, desynchronizing the walk lights on either side of the bridge and using police officers to direct traffic during peak hours.
Some said traffic backup is not caused by cars waiting to turn left onto New Britain Avenue, as the traffic committee has said, but congestion coming down Route 4, into the five-way intersection.
A few speakers named an additional bridge as the answer.
DOT engineer Tom Borden said again that the state lacks the money to support its existing infrastructure and a new bridge is not likely. Even if a permit for the bridge were approved, it would take 15-20 years to complete, he said.
Ted Lindquist, who has served on four traffic committees, said the previous traffic committee recommended widening the existing Unionville bridge and it was rejected by the public.
Lindquist made a motion to add a new member to the committee to replace Bernie Erickson, who resigned to join Save the Ville. John Vibert seconded the motion, which was approved. The committee will discuss the addition at the next meeting.