Updated November 2023 — The Bike West Hartford board recently called for public input — rather than more closed-door meetings — about the CT Department of Transportation’s proposed $5.5M redesign of the Bishops Corner intersection at North Main and Albany Ave. One positive step came at the November 13th meeting of the West Hartford Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission (PBC). The Town-appointed Commissioners unanimously voted to invite the CTDOT Project Manager to present the updated conceptual redesign of the Bishops Corner project at an upcoming public meeting. PBC Commissioners also expressed a strong interest in seeing how bicycle facilities can be incorporated into the redesign, given the proximity of the North Main Street road diet and existing bike lanes, as well as the CTDOT’s new Complete Streets Design policy.
Updated Correspondence from October 2023 — Thank you State Senator Derek Slap and Representatives Jillian Gilchrest and Tammy Exum for raising our concerns to the CTDOT about the Bishops Corner redesign. These three members of the West Hartford delegation wrote to CTDOT Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto on October 5th about the importance of designing the intersection for “all users,” not just automobiles. They added that “constituents and a local bicycling group have provided alternative suggestions to the project team for the intersection’s design, and we would like to ensure that their suggestions are strongly taken into consideration.” In his October 25th response, Commissioner Eucalitto wrote that CTDOT is “currently investigating design alternatives to determine the feasibility of incorporating bicycle accommodations into the project” and “plans on continuing to engage with Town officials and local stakeholders as project alternatives are explored.”
When the CT Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced its Complete Streets Design Criteria in August, we were thrilled to learn that all major CTDOT roadway construction projects, unless formally exempted by the Chief Engineer, must focus on improving safety in three additional areas:
• Pedestrian facilities – includes sidewalks, shared use paths, or side paths on both sides of the roadway.
• Bicycle facilities – includes paved outside shoulders, bike lanes, separated bike paths, or shared use paths on both sides of the roadway.
• Transit provisions – includes crosswalks, shelters, benches, and other ways to make existing or proposed transit stops more accessible.
How will this new policy affect our community? Bike West Hartford and our state legislative allies have asked for an explanation from the CTDOT Project Manager of the proposed $5.5M Bishops Corner redesign of the intersection at Albany and Main in West Hartford (project 0155-0176). Since this is a dangerous intersection in our town, we also pointed to specific suggestions for improving walk-bike-bus safety in our July 2023 public comments on the Bishops Corner project.
In September 2023, the CTDOT Project Manager confirmed that his team is still working on the Bishops Corner redesign, but has not yet explained how they will improve walk-bike-bus safety as required by CTDOT’s new Complete Streets policy. “Once we have updated the design,” he wrote, “we will discuss the project with Town Officials and determine next steps.” We fear that this process will result in another closed-door meeting with people who have already closed their minds to better options.
If CTDOT leaders are serious about their own Complete Streets Policy, then we call on them to schedule one or more public meetings – during hours when people with work or family obligations can participate – to review how an updated $5.5M Bishops Corner redesign will address walk-bike-bus safety. These public meetings should be scheduled and facilitated with representatives from West Hartford organizations that are actively working to improve roadway safety, such as the town-appointed Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission, the town-appointed West Hartford Vision Zero Task Force, and the Bike West Hartford non-profit organization.
Also, learn more and share your input about the CTDOT Complete Streets policy at a morning workshop on Wednesday Oct 25th at the State Legislative Office Building, Room 1D, near the Capitol in Hartford. Join AARP Connecticut, Sen. Christine Cohen and Rep. Kate Farrar from the CGA Transportation Committee, CTDOT Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto, Smart Growth America, Transport Hartford staff and community leaders for a training and discussion. Coffee, breakfast, and networking begin at 8:30am. The program will run from 9am – 11:30am. Register online
Below see Bike West Hartford July 2023 public comments on the Bishops Corner project, written prior to the CTDOT Complete Streets Policy announcement