WETHERSFIELD - Wethersfield is getting some new traffic lights, whether they want them or not.
The state Department of Transportation is adding signal heads on Maple Street (Route 3) at the intersection where Griswold Road, Two Stone Drive and Waters Avenue meet. Since Maple Street is a state road, it is unlikely that the town will have much say as to whether or not to go through with the project, which is expected to cost $1.9 million.
“The state’s totally broke,” said Councilor David Drake at the Monday, Dec. 17, Town Council meeting. “What’s the motivation for them to come up with $2 million for that?”
Drake added, “I think it’s a total waste of money.”
The state will not have to come up with all of it--Rocky Hill, which pushed for the traffic lights to be installed at Waters Avenue, will shoulder 10 percent of the cost, said Wethersfield Town Engineer Michael Turner.
“I think the light at Griswold is a reflection of the light at Waters,” said Wethersfield Town Manager Jeff Bridges. “The only way you could make one work is if you had both. Because they’re so close together, you needed both.”
The project, which went up for bid in November, was awarded to Electrical Contractors of East Hartford. There will be a 168 day period for “data gathering,” with construction beginning this May. The project is expected to take 264 days to complete, Turner said.
“I’m sure you’ve all tried to get out of Griswold,” Turner told councilors and residents that attended the meeting. “It can be a tough intersection to get out of.”
The new signals will allow firefighters and other emergency responders to clear traffic by pushing a button in their vehicles, Turner said. There will also be a dedicated left turn lane where Route 3 hits Griswold going northbound.
Drake’s objections to the project were echoed by Wethersfield resident Robert Young.
“These are very expensive items,” Young said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “For a bankrupt state to be funding or partially funding that is out of line.”
If safety is the primary concern, there are other ways to ensure it, Young said.
“Maybe we need to do something to teach our citizens to drive,” he said.