Waterford hires lawyer, looks to make changes on parkway
Waterford — "Can Cross Road be redesigned to handle traffic?"
That is First Selectman Rob Brule's central question.
The Board of Selectmen approved a motion Tuesday to hire Attorney Jay Levin of Suisman Shapiro Law Group for $24,000 in the next six months to represent the town in Hartford, advocating for more access to state-owned Waterford Parkway South and Waterford Parkway North.
As it stands, the roads face a "bottlenecking" of traffic where they meet at Cross Road, Brule says. Gaining more oversight of the parkways would allow the town to evaluate traffic infrastructure at Cross Road, supporting buildout of all available properties and the Millstone Power Station nuclear plant evacuation route.
The parkway roads are at either side of Interstate 95, which with Cross Road and Route 85 forms what Brule calls the town's "industrial triangle." He said there is significant vacant commercial and industrial land particularly along the parkway, but the issue is highway access.
The limitations on access to either Parkway road, he said, have inhibited economic development in the area.
Last year, the concrete product manufacturer Fabcon Precast withdrew its application to develop the former Waterford Airport property on 140 Waterford Parkway South into a concrete plant after months of deliberation. The development had faced opposition from members of Beechwood Estates Homeowners Association over concerns that included truck traffic passing close to residences late into the night.
The town's proposed solution would require short-term and long-term efforts to relieve the pressure of traffic at the Cross Road interchange.
The short-term opportunity involves reviewing the potential for industrial traffic to access I-95 north through the weigh station between Cross Road and Route 85. The long-term plan would include overall infrastructure upgrades at the interchange.
Brule said the past administration had meetings with the state Department of Transportation but was unsuccessful in encouraging the state to revise the parkway layouts.
The town has maintained the roads but has had little say in changes to them. This is why the selectmen and Board of Finance have agreed to hire a lawyer, garnering consulting assistance, he said, "at both the state and federal levels to see what can be done in an expeditious manner."
"Bigger picture, we need to do this for the town," Brule said, adding he believes these improvements would support future economic development opportunities along the parkways.
Levin, who has experience with economic development issues, will serve as the town's government relations consultant.
"I feel honored to have been asked by the town to represent it," Levin said. "I'm looking forward to achieving the goals of the town officials."