Newly elected officials were brought up to speed on the latest Tolland Village Area developments at Thursday night's presentation, led by Steve O’Neill of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc and Heidi Samokar of Planimetircs.
New officials were able to question the presenters on common concerns about the project, one of which being potential traffic issues in the village area.
In response, O'Neill said that infrastructure developments coinciding with the village area could improve some traffic problems, while acknowledging that traffic volume will undoubtedly increase.
"Over the years, Cider Mill Road has been a challenge to us," he said, detailing how left turns create back ups on the roads. He also noted that Cider Mill Connector is the only access point for traffic traveling to that portion of town.
"With the new connector road, just by mistake, we solved this problem here," O'Neill said. He's referencing a proposed connector road that would create an intersection with Route 195. The intersection would be approximately 600 feet from the traffic signal at the I-84 onramps and about 1,500 feet from the Old Post Road traffic signal near Tolland Green.
O'Neill said that a traffic signal and designated left-turn pocket would be better for traffic and would also give emergency vehicles another access point to the Cider Mill section of Tolland.
He said that the portion of Route 195 north of I-84 sees a traffic rate close to 10,000 vehicles a day. He said the number increases on the southern portion to 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles a day.
Samokar advised the town council to begin making several important decisions in order to move the project forward:
- Whether to sell or develop town-owned land; the town owns land backed up to Cider Mill Road, which could be used for the connector road. It also owns land near the current commuter lot.
- If they sell the land, whether to do so at a reduced rate or at market rate.
- How to best foster interest in the project, i.e. tax incentives, playing matchmaker for financing and developers, pursuing grants, etc.
Town Manager Steven Werbner told the council that more research may be necessary to determine how to best develop the land, which has a downward slope. He said the information is essential in order to sell a vision of the Tolland Village Area to developers.
"We have to determine what can be done. Everybody can't move until that's determined," he said.
The Tolland Village Area regulations .
For more information on the Tolland Village Area, visit the P&ZC website.