Cheshire is certainly not a “one-horse” town, but it is a one road town. That road is Route 10, the main artery that runs north to south and the road where most of the businesses and institutions in town are located. If you need something in Cheshire, it is probably located on Route 10.
It’s no fun to drive or walk there. I know. I walk on Route 10 and use it to commute from my house in the center of town to the Route 691 intersection. With all those traffic lights and the volume of traffic, it is a huge time and energy waster as cars sit there and crawl along, particularly during the afternoon commute. On weekday mornings, the south side of Route 10 is at a standstill when the Cheshire High School is in session.
I know that it’s a State road, and the State is responsible for improving it, but Cheshire can possibly take some actions to ease the traffic. There could be more realistic evaluations of the traffic generated by new businesses planning to locate on or near Route 10. While we all want new businesses on the grand list, it sometimes seems that we have added them only to the detriment of the traffic situation.
Secondly, do we need all those traffic lights? Through the years that I have been commuting, there have been more lights added at various intersections. I realize that they have been placed to address some serious safety concerns, nevertheless, I’d have the State determine if they are all still needed. I believe that from 10pm to 7am some of these traffic lights are on flash only, but can more intelligent controls that adjust to traffic conditions be installed?
There are too many cars entering and exiting Route 10 that simply need to go from one adjacent business to the next. To alleviate this problem, there should be mandatory curb cuts, or openings, between buildings and parking lots. There are many examples where to go from one business to another you must enter Route 10 for a few feet and then enter the next driveway. It is difficult enough to turn onto Route 10, particularly without a traffic light, but it is doubly irritating to have to make another quick turn to enter the adjacent parking lot. Many communities, such as Boulder, Colorado, make extensive use of inner roads that ease traffic and encourage more business because stores are easier to reach.
Years ago there was talk of building a bypass around Route 10. Consultant studies were conducted and some of their some recommendations were implemented. However, with all of the development in Cheshire in recent years, a bypass is just not feasible. There are “informal” Route 10 traffic bypasses some of which pose a safety risk. My street, Cherry Street, along with the adjacent streets, Edwards and Lanyon, are used by motorists to bypass Route 10 by entering either at Lanyon to the south or West Main to the north. Many drivers speed down these streets just to bypass the center of town. In addition, Cherry Street and part of Lanyon Street have no sidewalks, making it perilous to walk, particularly near or after dark. This is just one “bypass” example. There are other roads, such as Mountain Road and Peck Road , that are similarly used.
Walking on Route 10 is challenging. From the Board of Education south, the sidewalks are erratic on the eastern (Town Hall) side. Some of these sidewalks are in bad shape, particularly where the Cheshire Cinema used to be located. Heading North from Cheshire Academy to Maplecroft Plaza there are only sidewalks on the Maplecroft side of the road.
Bicycle lanes are not common in Cheshire and Route 10 is a very dangerous road to bicycle on. Yet, bicycle traffic has increased in recent years as many casual and serious riders use local roads to bicycle to and from the Linear Park. Can something be done to better assure their safety?
When I was a member of the PZC, I always asked these questions. There are no easy answers, but with some thought, planning, cooperation from the State, Cheshire could be a much easier place to walk, bicycle and drive.