Sidebar Middletown's Plan of Development

CHAPTER 7

TRANSPORTATION AND CIRCULATION PLAN

The purpose of this Transportation and circulation Plan in the Plan of Development is to determine and record recommendations for the long-range transportation needs of the City of Middletown. These recommendations, if implemented, will increase the capacity and safety of the existing and future transportation network. This plan recognizes that many transportation problems are regional in scope and therefore a regional approach is essential. The goals of this portion of the Plan of Development are as follows:

  • To develop an efficient transportation network which will minimize travel time and congestion and improve air quality citywide.
  • To provide for a variety of alternative transportation modes in order to reduce automobile traffic, conserve energy and continue to improve air quality.
  • To minimize the current peak hour traffic congestion in the Central Business District, using creative traffic channelization, intersection improvement, improved signalization and staggered shifts among our major employers.

EXISTING ROAD NETWORK

A basic understanding of the existing road network is essential before articulating any objectives, strategies or modifications to the existing network.

Two major highways link Middletown with the region and the nation. The other streets in the system, whether designated as highways or local streets, appear to have developed on an incremental basis with little evidence of being consciously planned as part of an adequate circulation system.

The two major highways, Interstate 91 and State Route 9, both run north and south through the city, but do not link directly with each other within the city. The recently completed Central Connecticut Expressway (Rte. 9) now links the Middletown Central Business District with Interstate 91 and Interstate 84. The completion of this expressway is bound to have positive and far-reaching effects on the traffic patterns in the city.

The other major east/west link is State Route 66, also called Washington Street. Washington Street links Middletown’s Central Business District with Meriden to the west and after crossing the Connecticut River, over the Arrigoni Bridge, with Portland to the east. Other than Interstate 84, Route 66 is the only east-west highway in Connecticut south of Hartford and north of Interstate 95 at Long Island Sound.

No local street, other than Main Street and deKoven Drive in the Central Business District, permits traffic to move from north to south or vice versa without a jog east or west usually at Washington Street. Several arterial streets radiate out from the Central Business District. Route 17, South Main Street, reaches New Haven to the south. Route 372, Newfield Street, reaches Cromwell and Berlin to the north.

The transportation network in the Central Business District and its relative convenience and ease of flow is an important ingredient in the economic growth and prosperity of the city and specifically the Central Business District. For this reason, the network in the Central Business District was carefully analyzed in order to correct current problems and plan for the future growth and economic prosperity of the most important area in the city. The city contracted with Wilbur Smith Associates to undertake a comprehensive Downtown Traffic Study. This study of the current Central Business District traffic situation and recommendations for the future is incorporated in it entirety into this section of the City of Middletown Plan of Development for the year 2000.

While it is essential that traffic flow be optimized in the downtown area, it is equally as important that traffic flow be optimized on the arterials, collectors and local streets. These streets feed traffic, including shippers and employees into the Central Business District and receive traffic from the Central Business District. In order to better understand the road network, it is broken down into functional classifications as discussed below. Figure 8.1 is a map which displays the functional classification of the existing street system.

FUNCTIONAL CLASSIFICATIONS

Expressways: Designed for heavy volumes of through traffic with limited access to abutting properties. (Interstate 91 and Route 9)

Arterial Road: Designed to efficiently distribute local and regional traffic through the city and between communities. All state-numbered routes which are not limited access are arterials.

Collector Roads: Serve primarily to funnel traffic from residential areas to arterial streets. The aim of the plan is to keep as much traffic as possible on these streets and the arterials. These streets create superblocks in their patter. Within these superblocks , development of residences can take place with local street freed from fast and heavy traffic.

Local Streets: Function to provide access to residential properties. While primarily these streets are designed only for local traffic, it is recognized that many of them are experiencing high traffic volumes due to the fact that they represent an alternative to congested collectors. Therefore, in terms of volume, many could also be considered collectors.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

Having an understanding of the existing road network, the Transportation and Circulation Plan now recommends the following transportation strategies and objectives for improving the transportation network in the city.

Short Term Recommendations

  1. Provide all assistance necessary to expedite the State Route 66 project. The project will provide a uniform road width on Route 66 for four basic travel lanes, sidewalk areas and synchronized re-signalization of all traffic signals.
  2. Induce the state to address the need to provide four traffic lanes under the Route 66 railroad underpass.
  3. Investigate the possibilities of applying traffic impact fees to large-scale developments.
  4. Promote pedestrian traffic in the Central Business District. The width and traffic volumes on Main Street can potentially represent a physical and psychological barrier to the pedestrian. This barrier can prove detrimental to the retail experience.
  5. Analyze and design a traffic separation system to protect the residential areas in the vicinity of Smith Street, Miner Street and Glenwood Terrace from traffic generated by the Interstate Trade Zone.
  6. The city and large employers in the downtown area should continue to provide for safe, well maintained and attractive public parking facilities in the read of Main Street buildings.
  7. Encourage the state to study and address traffic problems on East Street, particularly at its intersection with Country Club Road, Newfield Street and South Main Street.
  8. Study and address the implication, in regard to traffic volumes and problems of large scale developments in the vicinity of Saybrook Road, Main Street Extension and East Main Street.
  9. Continue to study and propose solutions to improve the safety of critically dangerous streets and intersections. For example, the severe curve on Country Club Road west of Moody School.
  10. Adopt a policy to avoid and eliminate unnecessary curb cuts on the city’s arterials and collectors.
  11. Require the installation of a carefully planned, high quality sidewalk system. The city should study the existing sidewalk system and develop a plan which identifies future needs. These future needs should be satisfied by the private sector during the development process, with the city filling remaining gaps, where feasible.
  12. Investigate the possibilities of designating city roads as scenic roads as provided for in Section 7-149a of the General Statutes.
  13. Encourage the private sector to provide for another east/west collector road in the Westfield Section of the city. This will help alleviate traffic congestion on Route 66 and Westfield Street.
  14. Develop a schedule to undertake the intersection and signalization improvement recommendations found in the Wilbur Smith Downtown Traffic Study of August 1989.
  15. Encourage employees of downtown businesses to utilize the existing mass transit system.
  16. Encourage major employers in the region to promote ride sharing, van pooling, flex time, staggered shifts and other analogous incentive programs.
  17. Amend the Zoning Code to require a Traffic Management Program for large scale development. This program which must be implemented, could include a traffic impact study, ride sharing, flex time, road way improvements, staggered shifts and public transit proposals, to mention a few.
  18. Promote a regional Traffic Management Association. Such an association would be composed of representatives from private business and industry. The association would respond to the transportation needs and propose transportation alternatives for businesses in the region.
  19. Develop a safe and attractive system of bicycle, walking and jogging routes for both transportation and recreation. These may include the provision of bicycle parking and storage facilities, the provision of shower and locker facilities in private businesses and City Hall and similar incentive features.
  20. Encourage the State to redesign the Randolph Road and South Main Street intersection. This will correct the misalignment of Randolph Road and create a single four-way intersection.
Long Term Recommendations
  1. Work with state agencies to provide for a properly designed, elevated pedestrian bridge over Route 9 in order to reintroduce the Central Business District and the riverfront.
  2. Work with state agencies to analyze and design direct access to the Central Business District for northbound traffic on Route 9 by eliminating the two traffic lights. Any design should keep in mind the relationship between access and economic vitality.
  3. Work with state agencies to optimize access to the Central Business District from Route 9.
  4. Encourage the State to expedite the anticipated redesign of the Arrigoni Bridge approach to separate through-traffic on Route 66 from local and Central Business District shopper traffic. This should also include improved access to the North Main Street industrial area.
  5. Encourage the State to provide for improved access to Interstate 91 for the employees in the Interstate Trade Zone and future employees in the Interstate Mixed Use Zone.
  6. If not addressed by the private sector, the city should analyze and design a safe and efficient cross town collector road in the Westfield area.

TRAFFIC AND THE AIR QUALITY ISSUE

While air pollution from non-point mobile sources (automobiles), is largely a situation which must be addressed at the regional if not state and national levels, Middletown, being the commercial center and leader within the region, should begin to address these air quality concerns in its Plan of Development for the year 2000. For this reason the Transportation and Circulation portion of the Plan of Development will now outline and endorse local level strategies designed to allow the City to begin to do its part in improving air quality in the MidState Region. Most, if not all, of the recommendations above will help lead to the reduction of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the air.

These street improvements which increase capacity, reduce congestion, produce higher speed links in the road network and shorten travel distances tend to reduce emissions due to smoother traffic flow as well as high and more uniform speeds.

Other local level strategies for reducing mobile source emissions, which the city should now be actively promoting are:

  1. Improved public transit
  2. Long range transit improvements
  3. On-street parking controls
  4. Park and Ride and fringe parking lots
  5. Employer incentive programs to encourage car pooling, van pooling, mass transit, bicycling and walking
  6. Staggered work hours
  7. Improved traffic flow.
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