DOT Plans Upgrade To Seymour Traffic Circle [Valley Independent Sentinel]

October 18, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Valley Independent Sentinel

Anyone who’s ever had their knuckles whitened while driving through the traffic rotary at the intersection of routes 188 and 334 near the Seymour-Oxford town line, take heart: relief is on the way.

In 2015, anyway.

The state’s Department of Transportation’s Office of Engineering is developing plans to upgrade the rotary “into a modern roundabout,” according to a press release issued by state Sen. Rob Kane’s office Wednesday.

According to the press release, the design work will be finished in 2014.

Susan Libatique, a state Department of Transportation engineer who is the project manager, said Wednesday that construction would likely begin in Spring 2015, and would probably be finished within that year.

She ballparked the total cost of the work at around $2.5 million.

The basic problem with the roundabout is that vehicles are traveling much to fast as they enter the roundabout.

“Essentially the approaches to the rotary itself are not very conducive to a conventional roundabout,” Libatique said. “The speeds are high.”

“Right now the speeds out there range from 40 to 50 mph,” she added. “The approaches of a typical roundabout are in the range of about 20 mph.”

During the three-year period between 2008-2010, Libatique said there were seven crashes near the roundabout on Route 188 and three on Route 334.

That number isn’t very high, but Libatique said “the potential is there” for serious accidents that the DOT wants to avoid.

The upgrade would introduce curves into the roads as they approach the roundabout to slow down cars.

A truck apron and a raised island in the middle of the rotary will also help drivers see and maneuver better, she said.

Seymour Police Lt. Paul Satkowski said that accidents at or near the rotary aren’t that frequent.

“I wouldn’t say it happens on a regular basis,” Satkowski said, adding that there are probably a lot more close calls there.

“i grew up in that area, i know what to expect,” he went on. “I think people that aren’t familiar wtih the area probably have more near misses.”

He said he hopes the state can improve signage in addition to the DOT’s other plans.

“There’s yield signs on every side,” Satkowski said. “I think people get confused there.”

Libatique said a public informational meeting will be conducted once the “preliminary design” is completed, but no date has yet been set.

Kane lauded the project as something that will benefit the whole area.

“This is an important transportation project for residents in Seymour, Oxford and the entire region, and I am pleased to see it moving forward,” Kane said. “An upgraded and safer rotary is coming soon, and that’s good news for everyone in the Naugatuck Valley.”