Op-ed by Town of Greenwich Dept of Public Works Commissioner Amy Siebert and Deputy Commissioner Jim Michel: Sharing the facts about the proposed Greenwich Avenue Intersection Improvements
As Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works, our goal is to provide accurate information on all public works related projects, programs and initiatives to the Greenwich community. Here are some facts about the proposed Greenwich Avenue intersection improvement project.
What is the project?
The Greenwich Avenue intersection improvement project (encompassing the Greenwich Avenue, Arch Street, and Havemeyer Place intersection and the Greenwich Avenue, Fawcett Place, and Grigg Street intersection) was created to implement key safety measures and increase accessibility on a street that is heavily used by both pedestrians and motorists. Greenwich Avenue is a popular shopping and dining destination that attracts residents and visitors alike, and traffic data indicate that there can be upwards of 800 pedestrians walking these two intersections in just one hour during peak times.
The Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works Engineering Division took into consideration and reviewed traffic data, crash data, pedestrian counts, vehicle counts, analyzed 23 studies and reports, and collaborated with various departments and groups in the community. These include the First Selectman’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, Greenwich Avenue property and business owners, Greenwich Commission on Aging, Greenwich Police Department, Greenwich Fire Department, Town of Greenwich Department of Planning and Zoning, and other major stakeholders. The team incorporated Complete Streets design elements in this project, which is an industry standard that is used by towns and cities throughout our region and all over the world.
Will parking be impacted?
This project adds 12 new parking spaces in the areas surrounding the two intersections. These spaces are located on Greenwich Avenue, Arch Street, and Fawcett Place. This includes designated ADA compliant parking spaces with an unobstructed pathway to the sidewalk How is the project funded?
Recognized as a worthy project by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and WestCOG (Western CT Council of Governments), 100% of the project’s construction costs will be reimbursed through the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) grant and will not impact the Town’s tax mill rate nor effect residents’ tax rates. The funds from this grant can only be applied to this specific project. If our Town decides not to move forward with the project, then the funds will be returned to the program. Proposals from 18 local communities then compete for these grant funds.
What are the public safety and accessibility enhancements?
Key safety features include reducing the distance pedestrians need to cross at the intersections (decreasing the distance and time it takes to cross by up to 76%), improving sightlines and visibility between drivers and pedestrians, adding designated ADA compliant parking spaces with an unobstructed pathway to the sidewalk, slowing speed of drivers entering the intersections, flattening steep grades to improve general accessibility, and relocating lighting to improve illumination. By working with the First Selectman’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, our team has worked hard to incorporate accessibility improvements in project design so that the proposed intersections will meet the needs of all our residents.
Additional benefits of this project include additional greenspace, stormwater quality improvement, benches, and landscaping for the areas.
What is Complete Streets?
Complete Streets are “streets designed and operated to enable safe use and support mobility for all users. Those include people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are travelling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation riders. The concept of Complete Streets encompasses many approaches to planning, designing, and operating roadways and rights of way with all users in mind to make the transportation network safer and more efficient.” (U.S. Department of Transportation).
With the high volume of pedestrians, it is important that vehicles drive slowly through the intersections. A Complete Street element incorporated in this project is the use of curb extensions (bump-outs).
Curb extensions visually and physically narrow the roadway, creating safer and shorter crossings for pedestrians while increasing the available space for street furniture, benches, plantings, and street trees.
By visually and physically narrowing the roadway, motorists are obliged to reduce their speed when driving through the intersection. Curb extensions also increase the overall visibility of pedestrians by aligning them with the parking lane and reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians. Complete Streets design is an industry standard that is implemented throughout the region and globally.
The Greenwich Avenue and Elm Street Intersection Improvement Project, which was completed June 2021, utilized curb extensions. Prior to project completion, Greenwich Fire Department assisted Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works in testing turn movements for fire trucks at the Greenwich Avenue and Elm Street Intersection. Both the Fire and Police Departments have found they can get their vehicles and trucks through the intersection safely. This same coordinated approach is being used for the currently proposed project.
We would also like to share that the Greenwich Avenue and Elm Street Intersection Improvement Project was recognized as an exemplary project that showcases engineering expertise and innovation and earned the Achievement in Civil Engineering (ACE) Award from the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE).
Where is there more information about the project?
For further information, we encourage everyone visit the dedicated web pages for the proposed improvements at the Greenwich Avenue, Arch Street, and Havemeyer Place intersection and the Greenwich Avenue, Fawcett Place, and Grigg Street intersection.
Amy Siebert, P.E., is the Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works Commissioner, and Jim Michel P.E., is the Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works Deputy Commissioner.