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Discussion: Town Center

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Is Broad Street too fat? Perhaps a New Year's resolution is in order. Have you checked out the train station area plan? Let us know your input on these topics and more by joining in this discussion.

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The town center plan recommends that Broad Street be reorganized to remove a vehicle travel lane in each direction and to use that lane space differently. The space gained from shrinking the width of the roadway would help create on-street parking, wider sidewalks, shorter pedestrian crosswalks, and additional green space. These changes would create a more welcoming, walkable town center. Greater access to shops and restaurants would be created, all while creating a safer environment for pedestrians and drivers.

What is a road diet? Watch the following video for a brief overview.

 

 

Click here to see a concept plan of the changes.

Tell us what you think about the Broad Street "Road Diet" by adding your comments below.

11 Responses

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Bonnie Karkowski over 10 years ago

This seems like it would result in a charming recreation of a little New England village. However, lovely as this concept may seem, unfortunately Windsor has grown too big for this to work well on Broad Street. You are proposing to eliminate two lanes from Broad St. while you will continue to have the traffic from three arterial avenues (Poquonock , Palisado and Bloomfield) funneling into Broad St. at one end and Windsor Ave. traffic coming in from the other. I also fail to see how it would create a safer environment for pedestrians and drivers when drivers will have to back into oncoming traffic to exit parking spaces. We never cared for that type of parking in West Hartford and avoid going there for that reason. Perhaps I am missing a key point here, but I'm sorry to say I don't believe this is a feasible plan. I believe it would create more congestion and more hazards than we have presently.

2 Votes
 
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Enita Jubrey admin over 10 years ago

Hi Bonnie. Congratulations - you are our first Winput participant! Thank you for sharing your input on the town center discussion. We will be heavily promoting Winput in the coming weeks and hope many more residents will participate in future discussions.

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Bonnie Karkowski over 10 years ago

Hi Enita, It is nice to be first for something once in awhile - provided it is a good thing like this! I have been trying to spread the word to others to use Winput as it is a great idea. (yours?) Maybe the right topic hasn't come along yet for others. Perhaps the article in today's Courant will result in responses. One possible reason for lack of responses thus far may be the location of Winput on the town website. It is hidden from view behind the pothole option. One has to be lucky as I was to find it, or smarter than I am with internet things to realize that you have to hit option 2 to see how to access Winput. I am looking forward to the recycling topic and will be sure to comment on that.

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Jon Fournier over 10 years ago

I think it could be a great idea, getting rid of two of the four lanes. I hope that part of this process will be quantifying what traffic passes through from 159, 75, and 305 heading south, and from 159 heading north.

I think part of the plan for the new space should include bicycle lanes. The path out in the woods east of Broad St is great for getting around the town center without having to deal with Broad St traffic, but it would be nice to see some mainstream bicycle support in the town that's not out of sight.

4 Votes
 
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Joan Lynch about 10 years ago

If I understood correctly the parking would be vertical so that would not cause a backup problem trying to get out of the parking space. I also think it is a good idea to shorten the pedestrian crossings especially at the intersection of Broad, Poquonock & Palisado. It is easier to find this website by going to yourwinput.com and signing in.

2 Votes
 
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Michele vannelli about 10 years ago

Congratulations for this town site discussion platform. My recollection is that reconfiguring Board St. with angle parking has been raised off-and-on over many years. Whenever I hear it, my reaction is always the same, "oh, no, here we go again, trying to emulate W. Hartford Center". West Hartford is ok if you don't need to get anywhere in a hurry. Otherwise, it's congestion, angle parking and fees, all of which are an aggravation. Consequently, I feel Windsor really needs to examine this issue closely. If we aren't careful we can destroy the very thing you are hoping to accomplish, which is to attract shoppers to town center. Generally, folks gravitate to the path of least resistance, so if Great Pond Shops or other neighboring towns provide that path in order to avoid a congested Windsor Center, where's the gain? Simply having a train stop isn't going to influence shoppers, particularly if the FEMA flood plan derails development behind the town hall. Years back, I believe there was discussion about linking the parking lots behind the Broad St. If I recall correctly, problems ensured because the lots are all privately owned. However, now might be the time to re-approach the feasibility of working with owners, or has this been done recently and I'm just not aware? Anyway, to me, it might have the possibility of a win-win. Traffic flow on one side, happy shoppers safely behind the stores on the other - all within easy stride of their destinations without barriers. Elimination of cubby hole parking lots with new configuration design might provide gained parking slots?

1 Vote
Bootstrap_eric
Eric Barz, Town Planner admin about 10 years ago

Michele,

Thank you for taking the time to try Winput. I would like to respond to several of your comments to clarify some things for you and other readers.

The proposed on-street parking will be parallel parking, not angled parking like West Hartford center.

Broad Street is currently 60 feet wide, with wider pedestrian crossings due to corner radii. There are four 12-foot travel lanes and two six-foot shoulders, which are used for unsafe parallel parking that encroaches into the outside travel lanes.

Traffic studies have shown that RT 159 traffic no longer warrants four travel lanes. By eliminating two through lanes, adding center left-turn lanes, and moving the curbing out to meet the travel lanes at intersections (pedestrian bump-outs); the distance pedestrians have to travel is significantly reduced, the pedestrian crossing signal time can be reduced, and vehicles making left turns will no longer block travel lanes. For example, the 65-foot wide pedestrian crossing between the town green and the Maple Avenue parking lot could be reduced by as much as 24 feet.

With two 11-foot travel lanes, an 11-foot left-turn lane and two nine-foot parking lanes, the remaining nine feet of existing pavement between intersections can eventually be removed and become part of an expanded town green.

We are not banking on the increased train schedule to bring out of town shoppers to Windsor Center. We are hoping that improved train service, together with pedestrian friendly amenities, will contribute to the desirability of Windsor Center as a place to live and work, with new residents and employees creating a captive market for existing and potential future businesses.

There are several strategies in the Transit Oriented Development plan dealing with off-street parking that are designed to foster cooperation between private property owners, which should improve access, the quantity, and the availability of off-street parking in the future.

0 Votes
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Jeanne Williams about 9 years ago

I totally am in agreement with most of the issues that have been raised concerning changing the traffic pattern in the center of town. Windsor has changed and grown through the years but so have the travel and shopping options between exits and entrances to I-91, 3 grocery stores strategically placed so that even walkers can get to them and pharmacies on both ends of town. I have seen many small business come and go. I believe most of them don't make it because there is really no major call for their business or it is too expensive to rent. Those of us that live in Windsor don't have to leave town unless our business includes more than what is currently here. We jump on the highway and get all of our needs met in the malls in Manchester or Enfield. I am not against growth but don't see it as a good thing for our quaint New England town. It will no longer be quaint, the currently empty stores may have businesses continue to try to make it but there is no room for more stores and the current race car drivers will only try to go faster than they already do. It will not be pretty when someone is trying to make that left hand turn. It other words I agree it will become another West Hartford center and Windsor residents will try to stay out of the fray. I believe traffic will be more of a nightmare than it already is when there is a tie-up on the highway and non-residents are using Bloomfield, Poquonock, Palisado and Broad as means to get to 291 or back onto the highway. Eric, if I am understanding you correctly you said If the width of the road is narrowed in each direction it would cut down on pedestrian crossing time. There is barely enough time for most of our seniors to cross as it is now. I'm hoping not to sound rude but just because the distance is shorter does not mean they can walk any faster and therefore traffic will move more quickly. I personally don't believe more housing opportunities would bring families living in the center of town. Families with children are more prone to want a yard and space, not traffic concerns. Young professionals will get on the train or into their cars and head out of town for shopping and entertainment. Seniors will walk for the convenience of what is here. I would rather see someone take over the Plaza building and do something with it to get and keep people in town because there is something to do here. Would we lose Shad Derby, farmers market and summer music night space by chopping up an already small area? The sidewalks have rolled up at 9pm for many years in Windsor. Give people a real reason to want to come and stay in town for more than a quick 'in and out' to a store or two then we would have a reason for a discussion about traffic patterns and parking.

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Michele vannelli about 10 years ago

Eric, thanks for your clarification, I think. Honestly, your explanation leaves much to digest and I'm still not sure I'm getting it. My assumption of angle parking was reached by looking at the download where, in the rectangle, cars are depicted as being right angle parked similar to what currently exist in front of CVS. I wasn't grasping that the proposed expansion was parallel street parking. Granted, I'm the first one to admit that reading blue prints isn't my strong suit but I suspect I am surely not alone. Hopefully, there will be in-person, informational, discussion meetings (more than one) where residents can examine in-depth, over time, what's being proposed (along with Q&A's at the conclusions), The ramifications of this major renovation are far reaching. What exactly is our goal here? Is it to emulate W. Hartford? If not, then where; Manchester, E. Hartford? If traffic studies show RT159 can be narrowed, for how long? If the subsequent downtown apartment growth actually takes place, seems like that would be a more appropriate time to exam this town center plan. Perhaps, a more prudent, "wait and see" approach would be advisable for now. Let Walgreen's settle, see if the Mechanic St apartment complex materializes, and if it does, small business will likely follow to support the needs created by tenants. Simply "building it and they will come" mentality has me questioning if this reconfiguration is advisable at this time.

1 Vote
 
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Bonnie Karkowski about 10 years ago

From looking at the diagrams on my small computer screen, the parking spaces appeared to be angled, so thank you Mr. Barz for clarifying that they are parallel. However, I wonder how the public works' snow plow operators are going to deal with plowing those parallel parking lanes with all those pedestrian bump-outs at intersections getting in their way. Also, if I am picturing your description correctly, the center left turn lanes sound reminiscent of so called suicide lanes that seem to be popular in tourist destinations. Do I have that impression right? We certainly do need parking, but I still feel that having fewer through lanes will create more problems as the town grows. I agree with Michele that it seems like we need to at least be certain that the Mechanic St. apartments are really going to be built before investing in this concept or guessing at what the ramifications will be if it is built.

0 Votes
 
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Jeanne Williams about 9 years ago

I totally am in agreement with most of the issues that have been raised concerning changing the traffic pattern in the center of town. Windsor has changed and grown through the years but so have the travel and shopping options between exits and entrances to I-91, 3 grocery stores strategically placed so that even walkers can get to them and pharmacies on both ends of town. I have seen many small business come and go. I believe most of them don't make it because there is really no major call for their business or it is too expensive to rent. Those of us that live in Windsor don't have to leave town unless our business includes more than what is currently here. We jump on the highway and get all of our needs met in the malls in Manchester or Enfield. I am not against growth but don't see it as a good thing for our quaint New England town. It will no longer be quaint, the currently empty stores may have businesses continue to try to make it but there is no room for more stores and the current race car drivers will only try to go faster than they already do. It will not be pretty when someone is trying to make that left hand turn. It other words I agree it will become another West Hartford center and Windsor residents will try to stay out of the fray. I believe traffic will be more of a nightmare than it already is when there is a tie-up on the highway and non-residents are using Bloomfield, Poquonock, Palisado and Broad as means to get to 291 or back onto the highway. Eric, if I am understanding you correctly you said If the width of the road is narrowed in each direction it would cut down on pedestrian crossing time. There is barely enough time for most of our seniors to cross as it is now. I'm hoping not to sound rude but just because the distance is shorter does not mean they can walk any faster and therefore traffic will move more quickly. I personally don't believe more housing opportunities would bring families living in the center of town. Families with children are more prone to want a yard and space, not traffic concerns. Young professionals will get on the train or into their cars and head out of town for shopping and entertainment. Seniors will walk for the convenience of what is here. I would rather see someone take over the Plaza building and do something with it to get and keep people in town because there is something to do here. Would we lose Shad Derby, farmers market and summer music night space by chopping up an already small area? The sidewalks have rolled up at 9pm for many years in Windsor. Give people a real reason to want to come and stay in town for more than a quick 'in and out' to a store or two then we would have a reason for a discussion about traffic patterns and parking.

0 Votes