Greenwich seeks ways to get traffic moving in Glenville

Apr 09, 2019
News Greenwich Glenville Corridor Traffic Planning M 2019

GREENWICH — The town is taking a closer look at traffic congestion along the main corridor of Glenville, a problem that many say could get even worse if the state reinstates tolls on the Merritt Parkway and I-95.

Using a $2 million federal grant and operating under an Aug. 1 deadline, Greenwich will develop a preliminary plan to improve traffic flow in the small commercial area, which is known for its backups and slowdowns.

As part of that work, town officials and consultants from Milone & MacBroom met with about 20 residents and property owners Wednesday night at the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center to hear ideas about how to make the area safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We think over the next month we should get to a point where we would have preliminary concepts and then we can ultimately come up with a full concept for the corridor,” said Kwesi Brown, the lead project engineer from Milone & MacBroom.

He led the event with Gabriella Circosta Cohee, senior civil engineer for the town’s Department of Public Works. After the preliminary plan is completed, the town will be able to estimate how much the improvements could cost, they said.

As Connecticut considers the possible return of tolls, the improvements can’t come soon enough, said some residents, who are concerned that drivers seeking to avoid tolls may take short-cuts through Glenville.

“It’s going to be a nightmare,” resident Siegrun Pottgen said at the meeting. “It will bring a lot more traffic to the area. They will skip the tolls and come through here. It’s human nature.”

Before the meeting, business owners and property owners took a walking tour of the area. They were split into three groups to look at specific areas and give feedback to address the issues they found.

Section one focused on the stretch from Glenville Street to the Byram River. Section two concentrated on the Byram River to Pemberwick Road. The third section covered the stretch from Pemberwick Road to Weaver Street.

In section one, participants called for improved coordination of traffic signals to reduce bottlenecks as well as improvements for pedestrians at the driveway for the Stop & Shop complex. Drivers often line up in the parking spaces along Glenville as they wait to turn into the parking lot, they said.

“People want to make the whole area pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly so that there’s safe access to the shopping center,” Cohee said. “Maybe that would include improving the sidewalks and adding a grass strip so that feels safer with a buffer between the sidewalk and the roadway. Maybe some trees could be added in as well.”

For section two, many pointed to safety issues for drivers and pedestrians in the busy area near the popular Glenville Pizza. They called for traffic signal improvements, a roundabout and/or improvements to the road geometry from Pemberwick.

“We heard loud and clear that something had to be done at Pemberwick in the Glenville Pizza area,” said Jason Williams, lead landscape architect for Milone & MacBroom.

Many residents also want improvements for pedestrians, after the Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved plans to convert unused office space at The Mill into 69 new apartment units.

Project developer Steven Schacter, who attended the meeting, assured residents that traffic would decrease due to the apartment conversion. Fewer people will be coming and going to homes than they were to offices, he said. But some residents remain skeptical about the project’s impact, especially if many of the apartments’ residents go to and from work using the nearby Merritt Parkway.

For section three, Milone & MacBroom’s manager of traffic engineering Dave Sullivan said the discussions centered on backups on Pemberwick, sending traffic all the way back to Weaver Street. Suggestions included new left turn lanes onto Weaver and onto Pemberwick as well as new traffic signals, he said.

“Some people felt it might be too many signals,” Sullivan said. “But some people felt it would be good to have another signal as long as there was proper coordination through the corridor.”

There was also a discussion about roundabouts, he said. “I heard about a roundabout near Greenwich Hospital (and) we don’t want to design one like that. I heard that loud and clear,” Sullivan said.

“But we also heard that roundabouts may be a good alternative to keep traffic flowing through these areas and give some more opportunities for more green space and more opportunities for parking and pedestrians,” he said.

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(c) Hearst Connecticut Media, 2019