Monday, June 15, 2009

Road Construction in Middletown

Wadsworth Street and Country Club Road are slated to have major paving projects this summer, according to Bob Daubmeier, at Middletown Public Works.

The Country Club Road project is to re-surface and straighten a series of curves between the 4-corners intersection at Ballfall, and Knox Boulevard. This project went through Inland Wetlands nearly 2 years ago, because this section of the road crosses wetlands, in fact it passes between two detention ponds in the course of this long block. Work began last summer, with the felling of large trees and the installation of a few storm drains, but was delayed because of buried fiber optic cables owned by SNET. Daubmeier told me that the project should start again within a month. Country Club is considered a major artery between I91 and Rte 217, and thus the State is footing the bill.

The Wadsworth Street project is to resurface the entire stretch from Rte 157 to Pine Street. This is part of the same project as last year's Farm Hill and Russell Street repaving; this project is paid for by the City of Middletown. The DeRita construction firm is doing this project, DeRita's on-site construction manager told me that the total cost of the project was around $800,000.

The Country Club Road and Wadsworth projects will improve storm drainage, and the Country Club Road project will straighten the road somewhat. Neither project will otherwise change the character of the streets, which will remain without sidewalks or bicycle lanes.

Below are some pictures of the Wadsworth project:


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope that it doesn't take them 2 years to complete the project, like it did on the reconstruction of Highland Ave. That was absurd!

Jennifer Saines said...

It is frustrating that our public works department continues to plan road construction without thought to pedestrians or cyclists. Both Wadsworth St. and Country Club road are important elementary school corridors: we should take this opportunity to facilitate walking and cycling for Middletown’s children. Kids need to learn the rewards of getting around on their own; they need to learn at a young age the importance of a lifestyle that includes regular exercise (not simply the kind that organized sports provides, because those activities will fall away for most as they grow into adulthood).

Lenore Skenazy, author of “The Free-Range Child”, argues that children can get around on their own, and therefore should get around on their own, without constant adult supervision. We should focus on changing lifestyle habits to break the chain of car dependence that has led to sprawl and dysfunctional communities. As a society we have failed to take these ideas into account when we design our streets, neighborhoods and transportation infrastructure; in the face of increasing health care costs, it seems absurd not to do so now.

The mayor, council and the public should pressure public works to include sidewalks in these road works plans. If it is argued that it is too expensive for this budget year, then we should simply postpone one of the two projects until we can afford to do it right. The Country Club road project, for instance, seems intended only to facilitate the speeding commuter heading to 91. Why are we cooperating with the state in the degradation of our city neighborhoods? I say if we can’t do it properly, let’s call the whole thing off.

fishmuscle (Stephen H. Devoto) said...

I need to correct one part of the post: most of Wadsworth Street does in fact have sidewalks. From Pine Street, past Snow School and to Spencer Street on the north side of Wadsworth is a beautiful sidewalk. In fact, those sidewalks have children walking in groups to Snow School every morning. The part of Wadsworth that is currently under construction does not have any sidewalks. If it did, children and others could walk to Wadsworth Park, just around the corner with Rte 157.

I agree with the absurdity of not including sidewalks in a suburban neighborhood less than half a mile from the city's biggest elementary school, on Country Club Road.

I also agree with the absurdity of straightening a road whose speed limit is 25 miles an hour, just a mile or so from the area in which a curve was artificially installed to slow down traffic on the same road.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying since 2005 to get the police department to do something about the speeding on Brush Hill Rd after it was redone. Speed limit is 25mph but most cars travel at least 40mph with many hitting 50+. And many are on cell phones. It shouldn't be dangerous for me to cross the street to get my mail. By the way, keep in mind that when we're told "The State is paying for it." that the state gets the money from the same place the city does. Our pockets. Does anyone know if anyone besides DeRita has had a road contract in Middletown?

James Streeto said...

FYI--

During my tenure on public works, several road bonds have been passed with line items for "miscellaneous sidewalk construction." Public Works will always entertain a petition from the residents of a neighborhood if they want a sidewalk put in--if the funds are not available, we'll put it on the list of potential road bond projects for the future. If the sidewalks aren't included in the current plans, however, they really can't be added to it easily--they'd almost have to be a separate item. There are a fair number of issues with sidewalk construction that aren't incurred in road construction....

Actually, sidewalk construction isn't as cut and dried as you seem to think. Many times, residents actually DO NOT want sidewalks in front of their homes, since, if they are there, it means they have to shovel them. This is particularly true for senior citizens.

I'm not sure I agree with putting them on CC road. I live on Westfield Street--this is an arterial connection. People come through here at speed, and encouraging child pedestrian traffic might lead to accidents....even with a sidewalk. Remind me to tell you about my friend Victor and how his trumpet got run over by a car in 7th grade (but that's a story best told with beer).

Jennifer Saines said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this issue, Mr. Streeto. I appreciate the experience that you bring to this discussion, and am delighted that you are reading the Eye and willing to jump into the fray.

However, I disagree with your concept of sidewalks as “add-ons”. All roads within the city, and especially those that are within a mile or two of a school, shopping area, library, or place of business should have sidewalks as a matter of course. Residents should not have to petition for them. Sidewalks should be buffered with large tree lawns and planted with trees to protect the pedestrian from the roadway. Most streets in the city are excessively wide and can easily accommodate this buffer. The danger of speeding traffic can and should be addressed by those who design the streets (public works presumably, along with public safety) and those who enforce the laws of the city (the police). The increasingly dangerous arterials and side streets in this city are a major drawback to living in Middletown; many residents seek to escape the incivility of today’s drivers by retreating to cul-de-sacs which only further fuels their dependence upon the automobile.

The difference between arterials such as Route 9 and those such as Newfield St., High St., Country Club Road, Saybrook Road, Westfield St. etc. is that residents live on the latter. Very different rules of traffic should apply. If we fail to retain the residential quality of these streets then these homes will not thrive; what would then replace them and the tax revenue they generate? Residents from West St. to Brush Hill Road to Ridge Road to Country Club Road to High St. complain of a deteriorating quality of life due to speeding traffic. The city owes these residents the courtesy of safe and civilized traffic control to reduce the danger of car traffic and to create pleasant spaces to live. Smart growth adherents have argued that pedestrianized streets should have speed limits of 20 mph. At this speed the possibility of a fatality approaches zero. I would argue that this is the type of civil society we should be trying to create—one that encourages walking and biking, and one that requires the driver (who is generating both noise and air pollution) to drive courteously and slowly to allow for these healthier lifestyles.

I believe that sidewalks are important communal assets. They are necessary to allow for children to walk to schools and for residents to get to shopping and business destinations. Extensive sidewalk networks in the city would allow for small organic neighborhoods to develop their own centers, (since we are, as the Eye so wisely points out, a whopping “forty-two square miles”). A quart of milk need not be a car drive away, but a reasonable walk away, and a controversial PTA meeting or school performance need not create a dangerous overflow in the neighborhood school parking lot.

NOBO said...

Maybe todays drivers are uncivil because they constantly have to suppress the urge to dust off some of these Tour de France shirt-wearing idiots who insist on riding four feet inside the travel lane with their "look at my tight butt" attitudes and total disregard for the Laws of Physics(primarily the ones about objects in motion).
This is New England-most people are not going to ride a bike to work or take a leisurely two-mile walk to buy a loaf of bread.
As for safety, check out how many people avoid the cross-walks on Main St. or, better yet, by Wesleyan.
People get creamed generally by being stupid, or careless, or both.
Sidewalks are expensive to build, costly to maintain,and generate lawsuits due to slips and falls.(Refer to previous sentence). Oh, the "noise and pollution" aspect was, I expect, appreciated by all unhugged trees.Throw in global warming and we'll have run the whole gamut!

Anonymous said...

Something has to be done about speeding. Almost every road in town is posted 25mph with the exception of a few major arteries. I have tried to get traffic to slow down in my neighborhood only to have my house egged a couple times, had a sign stolen, flipped off too many times to count, threatened to the point I called 911 and actually had someone stop and yell at me they can do anything they want. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of casualties fighting terrorism and it's alive and well right here in Rivercity.

What's our leaders' solution. Spend $100,000 on traffic calming on High street and turn it into a slalom course. Spend $3.2 million to warn motorists about an accident on the Arrigoni bridge instead of doing something about the reasons for the crashes-agressive driving.

At a public hearing on the Brush Hill Rd project, several of us expressed concern about speeding getting worse than it already was. We were told it wasn't their problem and we would have to take it up with the police department when the road was done.

Sidewalks aren't the answer as evidenced by the 9-year old boy that was hit crossing the street in a crosswalk about a year ago near the Cross Street fire station.

Well, I've just wasted a whole bunch of digital space. Nothing will change. Thanks for reading.

Vijay Pinch said...

1) The posts by NOBO and anonymous at 10:04 make it crystal clear why we, in fact, do need sidewalks and why they need to be buffered from the road with tree lawns and trees. Middletown is chock full of crazy, angry, hostile, aggressive drivers who only care about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, civility and safety be damned. Without sidewalks, pedestrians are forced to take their chances on the road. You never know when NOBO might be out there, lurking, waiting to demonstrate the laws of physics.

2) How does the boy getting hit in the crosswalk on Cross Street constitute an argument against the construction of sidewalks? (Ditto for Mr. Streeto's friend Victor's trumpet.) Are you saying that we shouldn't build sidewalks because people (or their trumpets) get hit by cars? Okay, I'd like to see this logic applied more broadly: There are 40,000+ fatalities on US highways and roads every year, the vast majority of which are not pedestrian-related but vehicle-to-vehicle. So, let's stop building highways and roads. Better yet, let's stop building cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles altogether.

3) Regardless of one's views on the High Street 'slalom', at least it indicates that the police and public works departments tried to think creatively about dealing with speeding in Middletown. The folks in those departments really did try very hard to solve a perennial problem. People seem to think that cops can be everywhere all the time. Posting policemen with radar guns to monitor and ticket speeders on all the problem streets in town is very expensive. If redesigning streets can actually slow the traffic down -- which has been proven effective in many cases (though the jury is still out here on High Street) -- then it is easily the cheaper way to proceed. Sadly, the politicization of the High Street project due to infighting between city departments laced with the egos of politicians meant that, as one well-placed political operative told me, "you won't ever see another traffic calming project in this town". So far, he's been proven right.

NOBO said...

Vijay-You really need to get a sense of humor!

Timothy Roaix said...

NOBO, I live in New England (Middletown) and I ride my bicycle to work (Hartford). Not only that, but I ride my bike to buy groceries and any other items I cannot strap on my back and/or panniers. I do, however, walk to buy coffee or bread downtown.

First I need to address the '4 feet from the curb' comment. A cyclist in CT, by CT state law, is given and is expected to obey all traffic statutes. One of those statutes allows cyclists to ride as far from the curb as they feel safe. For example, sewer grates eat bicycles, so if we are riding on a road with sewer grates, we WILL ride just to the left of said grates. If the road is all beaten up we WILL ride where the road is safe. In a situation on a road with a lot of sewer grates, we will keep our line, because cagers (drivers of automobiles who do not understand cyclists) would be surprised and probably hit a cyclist who suddenly darted to the left to avoid a sewer grate.

I would suggest you contact our legislators and press them to include safe cycling/pedestrian planning in all future road contracts. If we had our three feet on the side of the road, you could wizz by in your hurry to get from point A to point B in your SUV, and not be annoyed by us. We are not going away. You can either learn to live with us, or continue to be annoyed while we get in your way while you are listening to Mr. Savage on AM Radio.

Timothy Roaix said...

I don't understand NOBO's comment to Vijay at 5:29pm, to "get a sense of humor". I thought Vijay's comments were very to-the-point and added much valus to the discussion/debate on this thread. "Geting a Sense Of Humor" means that your original comment had no value, so why send it?

Before I go off on my brief tirade, I need to state I ride 5-8 thousand miles a year, and have ridden thru over 20 of the US states. I also have a rich experience cycling on New England's public road-ways. I could fill a novel with my experiences of automobiles running lights, signs, turning left from a right-turn only lane, doing anything they could do to kill me (not intentionally, I am sure, but it does cause one to develop specialized skills to predict traffic).

If NOBO was simply expressing a hatred of cyclists, I've already been thrown over the hood of a car running a stop sign (8 years ago). At least I got a new bike from her insurance company, but not much else, as I know how to fall so my physical damage was minimal. While riding legally within INCHES of the side of the road I have been harrassed by motorists about once every other month, had things thrown at me (beer cans or bottles mostly). In Montana I actually had someone in a rusty half-dead station wagon accuse me of being a "Hippy and riding my bicycle on these taxpayer-funded roads". I resisted telling this woman that my "taxes" were probably more than her net income. I was actually able to initiate a dialog with this woman and hope we left with an understanding that we were taxpayers who were on vacation and actuallly love the state of Montana!

I don't need your expressions of hatred. There is nothing you can do that will keep me off my bike outside of killing me.

What you do need to understand is that I am not intentionally getting in your way. I have the same legal right to the roads that you have. In fact a CT statute passed this year (ro protect cyclists for lawsuits) states that you need to give us three feet of passage when overtaking us. While we know this will never occur in the real world, it does allow us legal rights when suing for damages against drivers who intentionally harrass or strike us.

Oh, and if you think my 50-year old butt is 'tight', maybe you shoudn't be listening to Mr. Savage on AM Radio. :^}

NOBO said...

Dear Mr. Roaix-Please accept my sincerest apologies for trying to inject a little sarcasm, a touch of humor if you will, into what has proven to be a rather boring last few days of the Eye. Apparently generalizing all cyclists as inconsiderate or egocentric is akin to labeling non-cyclists as SUV-driving, Conservative talk radio show listeners. And I know you are above that.
( P.S. I listen to Sean Hannity in my Highlander).

Pearse said...

NOBO-I assure you, Mr. Pinch has a sense of humor that would make many comedians jealous.

Lady Cyclist (Beth Emery) said...

NOBO, I to, do not see any humor in your dark comments, if it is there it went right over my head. Your statement about dusting off cyclist who are riding well within their legal rights is insulting, inciting and without merit, it is not humorous AT ALL.

If what you really mean to say is that cyclist should, are obligated to follow vehicular law, I would have no argument with you. Cyclist breaking the law, behaving badly, and riding inconsistently puts other cyclist at risk who do obey the law. (That includes Middletown’s finest, the Police on Bikes, who are often seen not following traffic law when on patrol. Please set a proper example!) It does anger motorists. But if everyone of those motorists ticked by a cyclist, looked at the speed they where traveling with any introspection at all they would realize they too often do not obey the law. Two rights do not make a wrong—but often those drivers most offended by cyclists exercising their right to use the road, are unhappy because they are in a position of having to SHARE the road.

As a point of information I would like to share that CT DOT has just launched a Share the Road campaign. The public awareness campaign will educate motorists and cyclists about the 3-foot passing law in Connecticut, requiring motorists to allow at least 3 feet of separation when overtaking a cyclist on the roadway. For more information visit the www.sharetheroadct.org/

To further the point of sharing the road, I will use High St. as a specific example. For a cyclist to be safe on High Street, they must “TAKE” the lane. It is too narrow to stay to the right and allow cars to pass you on the right. Traveling from Washington St. to Church ST. the parked cars, create the danger, and a smart cyclist will always anticipate that the driver’s side door could open at any time into the cyclist’s pathway. On the stretch of High between Church and Pameacha it is a slightly different problem. First and foremost the road is plain and simple to narrow for a cyclist to be safe when being passed by a car. A piece of glass, a tree branch, or squirrel, create road hazards for the cyclist, if they are hugging the right of the road with less then 6 inches to the right and a car on the left, they have no where to go, to get themselves out of trouble. The faster the cyclist is traveling the more space they will need to be safe, when the cyclist on High is traveling downhill they are close to the speed limit anyway. Riding up High on the hill does slow traffic down a bit more than the posted speed limit, but so be it, after all the point is “traffic calming.” Second, that section of High St. is not straight, a road that curves means the cyclist is more invisible to drivers, (part of the law of physics my friend) so again, to be safe the cyclist must take the lane to be assured of being seen by motorists.

I urge both motorists and cyclist to share the road in a consistent, lawful, and courteous manner. Motorist please know that most cyclist are not trying to get in your way, or be rude, they are only trying to keep themselves safe. And for the most part, I must say that I have found motorists in Middletown non-threatening when I am on my bike, and willing to share the road and I am thankful for that. I urge everyone to follow the speed limit in town, and encourage more ticketing for speeding violations in town, as well as tickets for cyclists blatantly breaking the law.

Timothy Roaix said...

Hey NOBO, I do accept your apology. This will be my last post on this matter, as in Internet Years this post now has a cane and two artificial hips.

I do need to ask one question (not of you, but acually of FISHMUSCLE). In the first picture of this post, there is a bicycle leaning against the traffic triangle. FISHMUSCLE, did you ride your bike to take those pictures, or is a member of the road-crew a cyclist?

Back to the post, I need to remind you that joking about "dusting off cyclists" to inject some "humor" into a "boring couple days" and then trying to apologize for it is the equivalent...of hearing an off-color prejudicial joke and then expecting me and/or my asian/colored/gay/jewish/muslim/cyclist friends to "get a life" because they took exception to it. As a cyclist I'm sure my experiences are NOTHING compared to citizens of this allegedly great nation who suffer continued prejudice due to skin color or religious or sexual preference, but it still on occasion leaves me with a thin skin. And the EYE is a place where I expect the debate to be more civil.

Tim Roaix.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that's not FISHMUSCLE's bike as it appears to be illegally parked, partially blocking a road sign warning of a bump that could cause serioius injuries to cylists.

NOBO said...

Thank you Timothy. I have all the respect in the world for cyclists and I give them a wide berth on the street.I am VERY familiar with accidents involving bikes (motorized and human powered), more than you can guess.
My humor was misplaced.