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Y's road reconstruction plans draw few questions

Updated 12:39 pm, Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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  • Images of plans for the six-phase restructuring of Merritt Parkway Exit 41, designed to accommodate traffic generated by the new Westport Weston Family Y, were projected at a Monday meeting on the road work hosted by the Y. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News
    Images of plans for the six-phase restructuring of Merritt Parkway Exit 41, designed to accommodate traffic generated by the new Westport Weston Family Y, were projected at a Monday meeting on the road work hosted by the Y. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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As the Westport Weston Family Y tries to preempt concerns and questions about construction of its new home on the Mahackeno property, Y officials Monday night hosted a forum on its traffic management plans.

Only a few people were on hand to hear several professionals detail the Y's plans to restructure the northbound ramp at the Merritt Parkway's Exit 41. No one expressed any concerns or had significant questions about the Merritt project, designed to handle increased area traffic generated by the new Family Y. Work on the road reconfiguation is supposed to get underway July 15.

The Y's new 54,000-square-foot Mahackeno complex is scheduled to be finished next year.

The traffic work is being funded entirely by the Y, which has secured approval from both the state Department of Transportation and the Westport Traffic Commission.

Along with moving the highway ramp farther east along Sunny Lane, the six-phase project will widen Sunny Lane to two lanes in each direction. There will also be a new traffic signal replacing stop signs at the bottom of the ramp, which will be coordinated by computer with signals at the other parkway entrance on Wilton Road.

"We're making what's good now, better," said Rob Reeves, the Y's CEO.

He emphasized that anyone with concerns or questions should contact him via email or phone his office.

"I live on the site," he said, explaining that he knows how bad the traffic can be on the road, especially at rush hours.

Mario Smith, president of Waters Construction, detailed the six phases of the road project, which he said, after starting this summer, will be curtailed during winter because of the weather, and then continue through the spring with estimated completion next May. The work will span a total of 50,106 square feet, with the first phase, which centers on widening Sunny Lane, covering almost half of that.

Smith said one 11-foot lane will be open each way at all times during the work. "In phase two we will install drainage," he said.

The third phase, which includes joining the new entrance ramp to the parkway, will require closing the Exit 41 entrance ramp for one night. "Traffic will have to probably be re-routed," he said. "We haven't really worked that out yet."

"We will go out there at night and we will close down a lane on the Merritt Parkway," he said. An asphalt plant and gravel source will be available overnight, he said, to cover an area that's only "the size of a small driveway."

Following peripheral work on the new ramp in phase four, phase five will necessitate closing the ramp for "another night," Smith said. "The night timing are determined not by us, but by the DOT," he said.

Phase six will include finishing work, extending the commuter lot, along with patching up a tiny area at the base of the existing ramps.

"While this is going on, we are also building the underground infrastructure for the traffic signals," he said.

"There'll be a period when this project will be constructed in its new configuration, but you won't have signals ... Most likely the traffic signal equipment will not arrive until sometime early in the winter," he said, but installation will be contingent on the ground temperatures.

"That May '14 final date is sort of driven by nighttime temperatures," Smith said. "When the temperature will allow us, we will do the final overlay, the final striping ... At that point we'll be able to fire up the new traffic signals."

"That's very, very important," said Michael Galante, executive vice president of FP Clark Associates. "It's not only the added lanes, but it's how the traffic signals operate" in unison that will help improve traffic flow.