NAUGATUCK — A project to make a dangerous intersection safer is expected to be finished by the end of next year.
Improvements are planned for the intersection of Rubber Avenue and Hoadley Street and Rubber Avenue and Melbourne Street. The intersection is off-set. Hoadley and Melbourne streets don’t line up with each other.
Public Works Director James Stewart told the Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week there have been 75 accidents at the intersection in the past five years. There are no buttons for the crosswalks, he added, and there are no loop detectors to indicate when cars are stopped at the light.
“With no loop detectors cars will pull up and the light will be red and there will be no one around, and they will be more likely to just say, ‘I’m going through it,’” Stewart said.
The improvements planned include new traffic lights, an automated crosswalk system, new sidewalks, turn lanes and some streetscaping.
The board approved the project last year. Last week, the board voted to confirm a public hearing on the project was held, the project has the approval of the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, and the board still wished to continue with the project.
Stewart said the design work, which has started, is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Construction of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, he said.
The project is expected to cost $500,000 for construction and about $114,000 for the design work, Stewart said. The borough received a state grant to cover 90 percent of the cost, he said. The borough’s share of the project will come from a bond approved in 2014, according to Stewart.
The project has the support of the police department.
“It is our worst signal in town by far. Although it is not problematic in the sense of it malfunctioning, it is extremely inefficient,” Deputy Police Joshua Bernegger told the board.
Bernegger said between 10,000 and 15,000 cars drive on Rubber Avenue a day. He said the intersection, which is close to Naugatuck High School, also poses a threat to pedestrians.
“My biggest worry is those kids walking to high school without having any type of pedestrian control whatsoever. It’s a main walking route. It is a heavily used pedestrian corridor,” Bernegger said.
Bernegger added the improvements would have a positive impact beyond making the intersection safer.
“Rubber Avenue is our flagship road in town. Our biggest events, besides the events at the new event center, are generally held at the high school,” Bernegger said. “Irrespective of traffic accidents, I think it would improve the viability of Rubber Avenue from an economic standpoint.”