Construction cause of traffic headaches

A site plan drawing for a proposed Dollar General store at 14 Union City Road in Prospect. –CONTRIBUTED

PROSPECT — A traffic study found the intersection of Union City Road and Old Schoolhouse Road fails at times when it comes to traffic flow, but engineers working on a proposed Dollar General planned at the intersection say the store wouldn’t make things worse.

Garrett Homes, LLC is seeking a special permit to build a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store at 14 Union City Road, a 1-acre parcel at the corner of Old Schoolhouse Road and Union City Road.

Throughout the public hearing on the application, residents have raised concerns that the store would increase traffic and congestion in an area that already experiences heavy traffic.

Earlier this month, the Planning and Zoning Commission extended the hearing so a traffic study could be done on the intersection. The study, which was submitted to the commission, states the average daily traffic at the intersection is estimated to be 13,000 cars. This is up about 21.5 percent from 2012 when the average daily traffic collected by the state Department of Transportation at the time was estimated at 10,700 cars.

That’s a dramatic increase and not consistent with the development on Union City Road over the past few years, said Andy Chakraborty, a traffic engineer with BL Companies, as he presented the results of the study to the commission last week.

Chakraborty said the study shows the increase in traffic is coming from drivers looking to avoid the ongoing construction on Interstate 84 between exits 23 and 25A in Waterbury. Drivers are coming through Prospect, and the intersection, to circumvent that section of the highway, he said.

Even with the increase in traffic, Chakraborty said the study shows the intersection operates at an acceptable “level of service,” which is factored based on a driver’s delay at the intersection, during the morning peak hours and Saturday peak hours. However, the intersection operates at the worst level of service, an “F,” during the afternoon peak hours on weekdays, he said.

Level “F” means the delay getting through the intersection is greater than 80 seconds, according to the study.

The proposed Dollar General is projected to generate about 521 daily trips on weekdays, including 50 trips during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, and 67 trips during peak hours on Saturdays. These trips include capturing people already driving by who pull in to pick up something quickly.

Chakraborty contended the traffic generated by the store isn’t going to cause much more of a traffic disruption. He added the traffic volume will decrease once the construction on I-84 is complete.

“It’s our contention that once that normalcy is restored, traffic patterns are going to go back to their usual trends,” he told the commission.

The commission closed the public hearing last week. It had 65 days from June 21 to decide on the application.

If the commission approves the special permit, the state DOT would still have to approve the driveway for the store on Union City Road, which is a state road also known as Route 68. The plan calls for another driveway on Old Schoolhouse Road.

Matthew Bruton, a senior engineer with BL Companies, said it would take about four months to construct the store after all the approvals are in place.