Busway Construction Worries West Hartford Officials
By AMANDA FALCONE
June 07, 2012
WEST HARTFORD —— Town officials do not support the controversial $567 million New Britain-to-Hartford busway project. But it is coming and that means that there will be construction in West Hartford over the next few years.
Although Christopher Zukowski, a project engineer for the state Department of Transportation, says the impact on traffic in West Hartford will be minimal, Town Manager Ronald Van Winkle says he remains worried that the project will negatively impact residents and businesses.
"I wouldn't minimize the impact of construction," he said.
The busway — a state project now known as CTfastrak — will be 9.4 miles and will feature two stations in West Hartford. They will be located at the corners of New Britain Avenue and New Park Avenue, and Flastbush Avenue and New Park Avenue.
Work to relocate utilities, such as water mains, at the intersection of Flatbush and New Park avenues has already begun and will continue through June, Zukowski said. When the work is complete, milling paving work will immediately begin, and the road will also receive new lines, he said.
Drivers take alternative routes to avoid congestion due to construction, Van Winkle said of the project's impact on the community.
"We recognize it's been a long haul over the past year," Zukowski said.
Zukowski said the milling, paving and painting will be complete in by the end of July. Work on the actual busway will then begin, he said.
The first step will be to construct a new access road for Amtrak. Amtrak's current access road runs along the railroad tracks, and that will become the busway, Zukowski said. Most of the work will be done near the railroad tracks, but some construction trucks will enter and exit on Carney Road, Oakwood Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, he said.
Work on a new bridge on Flatbush Avenue will begin in July. Most of that work will not be done at a major intersection, limiting the impact on traffic, Zukowski said, explaining that some traffic may get rerouted in 2013.
Also in 2013, work will begin on a new bridge that will be built over Trout Brook and New Britain Avenue. The two bus stations also need to be built.
The busway is expected to start its operation in late 2014.
The state transportation department is encouraging anyone who wants more information on the busway project, including construction details, to visit http://www.ctfastrak.com. The department is making great effort to make sure that people know what is going on, Zukowski said.
In West Hartford, officials have said they do not support the busway. However, they do understand the state is moving forward with the project. As a result, the town established a busway advisory board last fall. The board, which has met with state transportation workers, is charged with establishing contact with local businesses, community groups and officials who will be affected by the project, and it is responsible for tracking busway policy and the project's progress.
"[The state] is communicating, but we are still worried," Van Winkle said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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