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State Senator

Christine Cohen

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Sen. Cohen, Rep. Comey Welcome Dot Traffic Safety Study And Recommendations For Route 146 In Branford


BRANFORD – After getting input from local residents about some of their safety concerns regarding traffic on heavily travelled Route 146, state Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and state Representative Robin Comey (D-Branford) today expressed optimism with the state Department of Transportation’s newly released road safety audit of a portion of Route 146 and their proposals for several safety-related road improvements.

 The full report, with maps, can be found here https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DOT/Community-Connectivity/RSA-Reports/Branford-RSA-Report.pdf

 

"As pedestrian, cyclist and motor vehicle accidents increase in Connecticut and across the country, ensuring that our streets are safe for everyone is more important than ever. As we continue to connect neighborhoods with local businesses and residents with the open spaces and pastimes that they love, providing secure avenues is essential," Sen. Cohen said. "Local residents brought their concerns to us and we brought the DOT to them, and now we have a good handle on traffic along Route 146 as well as ways to improve safety there. This has been and will continue to be a collaborative process working toward the best interests of the community." 

 

“I'm pleased the DOT listened to our safety concerns and conducted a thorough onsite field audit to come up with recommendations that will improve access and overall safety for all travelers in this area,” Rep. Comey said.  “This great outcome is the result of the public’s input and our joint efforts to find a solution to this situation. I'm grateful to everyone involved in making this happen and look forward to exploring the next steps in the process.”

 

At the legislators' request, the DOT studied traffic along Route 146 in Branford between South Montowese Street and Sybil Avenue in order to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists travelling through the area. This particular stretch of Route 146 serves many purposes, including local residential access, restaurant and commercial business access, marina access, truck access to the sewage treatment plant, and pedestrian and bicyclist movement throughout the beach community. The Shoreline Greenway Trail also runs through the northern end of the study area at Tabor Drive.

 

The DOT found the average daily traffic in the area ranges from 3,100 vehicles per day at the southern end of the study area (Sybil Avenue, south of Linden Avenue) to as many as 9,400 vehicles per day in the middle of the study area along the commercial core, depending on the season. Traffic volumes are highest during summer months, late mid-week and on Saturdays.

 

While the speed limits in the study area are 25 miles per hour, the DOT found that 85 percent of vehicular traffic along Route 146 actually travels 33-38 mph, with even higher speeds along the northern portion of the route.

 

There were 41 crashes along the corridor – including one fatal crash – in the five years from January 2016 to December 2020, with most crashes concentrated in the vicinities of Block Island

Road, Linden Avenue and the commercial area, Toole and Tabor Drives, and Indian Neck Avenue.

 

DOT meetings with residents before conducting the study revealed several concerns with the Route 146 corridor, including:

  
  • There is a lot of commercial activity by the marina on Block Island Road and south toward the restaurants and business area. This activity poses safety concerns, especially with late night bar traffic, etc.
  • The Branford Housing Authority will be renovating its property and realigning sidewalks and driveways to the housing
  • South Montowese Street has been a scenic road since the 1990’s, and although members of the scenic road committee recognize that safety is an issue, they feel that a balance is needed. Members believe recommendations should be focused on reducing speeds
  • There is a need to make the area more attractive and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to enjoy
  • In the summer, traffic volumes increase due to tourism
  • Sightlines at some driveways and intersections can be difficult in summertime due to vegetation growth
  • Sightlines turning left onto Linden from Sybil Avenue (Route 146 northbound) is difficult due to poor sightlines around the horizontal curve to the north and the fast speeds of southbound traffic
 

Based on these concerns and others, DOT suggests improvements that include:

 
  • Consider a 65-foot diameter decorative mini-roundabout at the intersection of Route 146 and Linden Avenue
  • Continue to monitor the curve on Route 146 at Limewood Avenue following ongoing construction projects; consider in-lane curve markings
  • Improving various pedestrian crossings, including the installation of decorative crosswalks
  • Installation of sidewalks, especially in residential areas
  • Installation of "pedestrian-scale lighting" near businesses, similar to that in Branford Center
  • Re-striping various sections of roadway
  • Relocating some utility poles
  • Installing 2"x3" reflective roadside markers at four-foot heights to enhance
  • nighttime visibility along some curves
  • Trim or remove brush to improve sightlines
  • Consider rapid flashing beacons on some crosswalks
  •  

Branford town officials are now expected to review the DOT report, decide which projects to prioritize and pursue, then work with Sen. Cohen and Rep. Comey on funding opportunities and the best path forward.