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Construction and Distracted Driving Causing Uptick in Traffic Accidents

Branford Police suspect distracted driving and heavy construction work along route 1 and near the west rotary at the Amtrak bridge are two major factors in the uptick of motor vehicle crashes.

There’s no doubt that you’ve noticed the milling and paving of more than two and half miles of Main Street in the past week or so. say they’ve noticed too.

“It is our belief,” said Chief Kevin Halloran at this week’s , “that the majority of recent traffic crashes are related to construction and distracted driving.”

The good news is that the milling paving, which has caused uneven surfaces all along Route 1 is slated to wrap up on Sept. 17 according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation who is executing the work (8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday to Friday evenings). The bad news is that the end of the construction of the at the west rotary is still a ways off with a scheduled wrap date of spring 2014; the project began August 2009.

Branford Police have compared motor vehicle accidents for the same two-week period during late August into early September of this year to 2011’s report and found an increase in accidents. That said, overall, traffic crashes are down 17 percent over a three-year average said Police Captain Geoffrey Morgan.

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Branford Police is actively targeting trouble areas like the west rotary but are still seeing accidents occur, said Halloran. “It’s not for a lack of effort that these traffic crashes are occurring,” he addressed the Commission noting that there is an officer stationed to work the west rotary during all construction work. That officer is paid by the federally-funded project. 

Ninety percent of accidents that have occurred are rear-end collisions, which police attribute to due to use of handheld devices or merging of lanes near construction zones without paying attention. During the last reporting period, Branford Police issued a total of 533 tickets –165 were for using cell phone or distracted driving.

Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the CTDOT offered the following statement from Eileen Ego, Project Engineer for the Amtrak bridge project when Patch asked about the current constriction:

“The project to widen Route 1 in the vicinity of the Amtrak Bridge in Branford is deceivingly complex.  To the casual observer, it would seem all we are doing is replacing a relatively small bridge.  The problem is, in order to do this, we have to construct two temporary bridges and thousands of feet of retaining walls in order to maintain railroad traffic.  The allowable hours of operation are severely limited due to the need to maintain Amtrak’s schedule.  The walls alone, involve installation of over 300 drilled soldier piles and associated lagging, all done during nighttime track outages.  The contractor is highly competent and has aggressively progressed this project whenever possible.  Indeed, despite numerous challenges, the project remains on schedule for a March 2014 completion. “

If you want to keep up to date on the near $45-million-dollar Amtrak Bridge project, which is completely funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, you can call 203-315-0966 (see attached PDF as well).

According to the CTDOT, the bridge project consists of “2,850 feet of reconstruction of US Route 1 to add turning lanes and to complete a uniform roadway section of two lanes in each direction.  This project also consists of 4,440 feet of reconstruction of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to accommodate the necessary higher grade associated with the new bridge, as well as temporary horizontal shifts in the track alignment required to maintain two tracks for rail service during construction.  The new bridge will be longer than the existing bridge to allow for five travel lanes and sidewalks on each side of the underpass.

Other major features are the construction of a 170’ long twin 8’ by 3’ concrete box culvert under US 1, and nearly 2,500’ of retaining walls to support the railroad. Full reconstruction and widening of sections of US Route 1.”

What do you think of the improvements? Worth the traffic snags?

Nicole Ball September 13, 2012 at 01:23 PM
For those concerned about a "crack" in the Amtrak bridge, project engineer Brian Gustafson said this morning that it is a manufactured construction joint and is really two pours of concrete. Residents should not be concerned.
Holly MacLean September 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Nichole the traffic from Short Beach Road to Maple @ the stop sign at Harbor street all the way up is risky trying to cross Maple also note Curve is one way going up off of Maple because people are coming down from harbor were Branford Counsling is can u ask some out there to make this possible so people can be safe.
Holly MacLean September 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Nichole also about a year and a half ago my Father Bill MacLean was turning left off Maple Street to my apartment where a lady hit him on the right side turning onto Curve Street when the lady tried to pass him on the right hand side.OF Course the lady was at fault Make changes please if you could or let Branford Police know.
Nicole Ball September 13, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Holly, sorry for the delay in response. Please e-mail this inquiry to Robert Gott, Chair of the Branford Police Commission Traffic Committee. He and the group can look at it for you. Thanks! rgott@branfordpolice.com

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