Between now and Labor Day, a series of roadway construction projects designed to enhance traffic flow and safety on the UConn Health campus and the surrounding community in Farmington will be complete.
Most noticeable will be widened access roads between the campus and Route 4/Farmington Avenue, an additional traffic light at the other campus entrance at Munson and Middle roads, a roundabout on lower campus, and a new lower campus access road.
“With our major expansion under the Bioscience Connecticut investment and the projected volumes of traffic coming to our campus, we’re going to need to be able to move people in the safest, most efficient ways possible,” says Tom Trutter, associate vice president of campus planning, design, and construction. “In the short term, that means there will be some intersections both on campus and in the surrounding area where people may experience delays or periodic lane closures due to the road construction work.”
The first of these changes starts July 7 with the opening of the lower campus access road, enabling two-way traffic to and from Garage 1, the Medical Arts and Research Building (MARB), the Administrative Services Building (ASB), and when it opens in January, the UConn Health Outpatient Pavilion.
Designed as a boulevard with new lighting and a traffic-calming median, the road will redirect traffic flow to allow uninterrupted access to lower campus patient areas and parking. This enables the temporary closure of part of Circle Road on the opposite side of the garage so construction at the Outpatient Pavilion site can continue. Circle Road will remain closed just past the entrance to Shuttle Lot 3 until mid-August. This previously had been the primary access road to Garage 1 for patients and visitors.
Patients and visitors who park in Garage 1 to access the Medical Arts and Research Building – the location of services including orthopedic surgery, outpatient orthopedic care, and physical therapy – will use the new boulevard to access the garage. Center on Aging research volunteers will be able to park in the newly paved area outside the Administrative Services Building.
By mid-August, a roundabout at the intersection of Main Road and Dowling Way will open. This replaces the four-way stop by the old helipad on lower campus. While it may take some getting used to, the roundabout concept is generally regarded by traffic planners as preferable to a four-way stop.
“Often mistaken as ‘rotaries,’ roundabouts are a much different and safer design than the rotaries of old,” Trutter says. “The roundabout is going to be a really significant improvement to how people navigate the campus. It’s a cleaner, smoother, safer, more functional way to move traffic that will avoid backups that were common to that intersection during peak times. It also will be an aesthetic improvement, as will be the boulevard in front of the MARB and ASB.”
The primary entrance to the campus, from Route 4/Farmington Avenue, is being widened to accommodate an additional lane in each direction, and with corresponding adjustments to the traffic light at that intersection. That’s on schedule to be ready in late August.
On a similar timetable is the installation of a traffic light to replace the four-way stop at the intersection of Munson and Middle roads, the secondary entrance to campus.
Says Trutter, “Again, it’s about safety and controlling traffic flow to get people quickly on and off campus.”