Town Council members gave their unanimous approval to the Unionville Traffic Committee’s final recommendation Tuesday night, allowing the plan to move forward for state Department of Transportation consideration.
The plan, which concludes the committee’s nearly two years of work, recommends widening South Main Street to create turning northbound and southbound left-turn lanes and adding a right-turn lane on New Britain Avenue. On the other side of the bridge, the plan also would realign Mill Street with entrance to Riversedge Plaza. Finally, it would reroute the Rails to Trails bike path down the South Main Street sidewalk, in front of the tailor shop and McGillicuddy’s to cross at the light and continue down Railroad Avenue.
Unionville Traffic Committee members Charlie Keniston and John Vibert, both of whom also sit on the Town Council, presented the plan to the Town Council Tuesday night.
“As you all know, a different solution was presented, passed and rescinded by the council,” Vibert said, referring to the New Britain Avenue relocation plan that spurred the Save the Ville group to action. “Since December the committee has been concentrating on understanding public sentiment and what would be appropriate for the community.”
The committee held several public meetings to try to gauge support for a variety of possible traffic plans, none of which gained overwhelming support from the community.
“What we found was a great consensus around the fact that something needed to be done. What we didn’t find was a single solution that had consensus around it,” Vibert said.
The recommended plan would do the most to alleviate traffic problems with the least impact to business owners – in contrast to the vetoed New Britain Avenue plan, which required the tailor shop, salon and liquor store to be removed.
The new plan, which was actually adopted by a previous council in 2004 and is still on the DOT’s list of projects awaiting funding, would only affect Liquor Square, at the corner of New Britain Avenue. Because the small building is so close to the street, widening the road would cut into the property. The owner, Peter Ramchandani, would have the option of moving his store somewhere else in town, or simply moving the building back on the property.
The council was supportive of the plan.
“This plan seems to be to be a good compromise,” said Councilor Mike Demicco. “It presents some solutions with what I consider a fairly small amount of disruption."
Councilor Nancy Nickerson said simply, “I’m just delighted to see we’re going to be moving something forward.”
Vibert thanked the members of the Unionville Traffic Committee for their hours of service to the town and to Unionville.
“They have been very dedicated in the amount of time spent at meetings and understanding the problems we wall face in Unionville.”
He also thanked town staff who served on the committee: Town Planner Jeff Ollendorf, Recording Secretary Carol Golas, Town Engineer Matt Blume and DOT engineer Tom Borden.
With the council’s approval, the plan awaits funding. The state DOT will hold a public hearing on the proposal, likely in September, Vibert said, then move forward with it.