Final Weekend For Traffic On Hartford's Flower Street
By DON STACOM
November 30, 2012
HARTFORD —— As of Monday, downtown drivers looking to cut between Farmington and Capitol avenues will need to find an alternative to Flower Street.
The state transportation department plans to close Flower to car and truck traffic permanently on Monday.
"The street will remain open for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, but Flower Street will no longer be a through route connecting Capitol Avenue to Farmington Avenue," the DOT said in a statement Friday. "Cars and trucks will need to take Broad Street or another route."
Drivers can use Broad Street, Laurel Street or Sigourney Street, the DOT suggests. Flower will stay open to local traffic, but neither northbound nor southbound traffic will be able to get past the area of the rail crossing.
The DOT says it cannot keep Flower open because of the extensive bus traffic that will begin crossing when the CTfastrak busway opens. As many as 40 buses an hour will cross Flower on a route along the Amtrak rails. The buses won't stop, so the Amtrak lights and crossing gates would have to be activated each time.
In addition, the crossing is almost directly under the I-84 viaduct and alongside The Courant building; it's a narrow space with poor sight lines. The DOT says it would be unsafe to keep the grade crossing open, and the problem would worsen when Amtrak eventually adds a second set of tracks and more frequent train service.
The DOT promises to keep pedestrian and bicycle access to Flower Street open during construction, though periodic, brief closures may be required. The state permit that allows closing Flower Street also requires the DOT to search for a practical way to ensure bikes and walkers can continue using Flower after CTfastrak opens.
Construction crews are expected to work next year and in 2014 at the site. The job is part of a $130.6 million contract with Massachusetts-based Middlesex Construction. Middlesex is building part of the busway, a $567 million bus-only highway between downtown Hartford and downtown New Britain. Buses will make multiple stops in Newington and West Hartford, but the DOT anticipates the bus will be significantly faster than driving on I-84 at rush hour.
In addition to the New Britain-Hartford shuttles, the busway will accommodate transit buses heading in and out of Hartford from Southington, Waterbury, Bristol and other communities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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