Conceptual plans unveiled for Coogan Boulevard in Mystic
Mystic — Conceptual plans created by a group of landscape design students from the University of Connecticut show Coogan Boulevard as a two-lane roadway, with a roundabout instead of a traffic light at the intersection of Clara Drive, and a landscaped and tree-lined bike and walking path down the middle.
The design was unveiled Thursday night in Olde Mistick Village as the Stonington Economic Development Commission and Department of Planning held a forum to gauge public reaction to the ideas.
Director of Planning Jason Vincent said that the four-lane Coogan Boulevard, especially the section from Clara Drive to Jerry Browne Road, is over-designed for the traffic it handles. This has resulted in high vehicle speeds and the need for six separate safety features, including a crossing guard at times, to protect pedestrians. The goal of the UConn students’ design was to improve pedestrian safety, slow down vehicles, create improved signage and ensure a sustainable development.
Currently, there are 56 points where vehicles could hit other vehicles or people. Vincent said a roundabout, which could require the acquisition of land from adjacent property owners, would decrease that number to 16.
The students’ plans also showed artwork underneath the Interstate 95 overpass on Route 27 to improve the experience for people walking to hotels north of Interstate 95, and a water taxi location with an amphitheater along the Mystic River in the vicinity of Exit 90.
Among the concerns and suggestions made by the 40 people at the forum was ensuring that emergency vehicles could negotiate a roundabout and that traffic between Route 27 and Clara Drive is much heavier than from Clara Drive to Jerry Browne Road, which could indicate different solutions for each section. Others were concerned about how drivers would safely access Mystic Aquarium with trees in the median and how drivers would be educated about negotiating a roundabout. Vincent said that while the impression is that roundabouts are dangerous, statistics show they are actually much safer than traditional intersections.
While a roundabout and landscaped median would cost millions of dollars, there were suggestions that the use of curbing, striping and other creative measures could slow traffic at a fraction of the cost.
David Lattizori, who is developing the Perkins Farm project at the intersection of Coogan Boulevard and Jerry Browne Road, suggested that if the town wants Coogan Boulevard to be more pedestrian-friendly, it has to make it more of a destination for pedestrians.
The forum was held to help town officials decide if they should proceed with seeking funding to design and construct improvements.