Stamford weighs $470K contract to create controversial roundabout at busy Shippan intersection

Jared Weber, Staff Writer

STAMFORD — The main intersection connecting Shippan to the rest of the city could be headed for a major redesign.

A contract for engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill to design a roundabout at the intersection of Shippan Avenue, Harbor Drive and Magee Avenue is headed to the Board of Representatives for a vote, after the board’s transportation committee unanimously approved it Wednesday night.

The contract includes the road redesign, as well as an analysis of the area’s drainage system. It would cost the city $470,440.

Rep. David Watkins, R-1, who represents Shippan, said the project will have “a great deal of visibility and concern” for neighborhood residents.

“We all want this to work because it’s a big deal. It’s a major project,” Watkins said. “If you live in my district, it’s about the biggest project you could possibly imagine.”

The contract was revised earlier this month to include drainage analysis after Watkins brought forward constituent concerns about frequent flooding in the area, according to a city memo. The project would now feature drainage work, in addition to the road redesign — the addition of drainage analysis also increased the contract’s fee from an earlier assessment of $308,000.

Frank Petise, head of the city’s transportation, traffic and parking bureau, told committee members that the project has been identified multiple times as an area of improvement by city officials in plans dating back to 2011.

“The idea is we have an older traffic signal there. We have the real estate to put in a roundabout which will keep traffic moving and part of the hazard mitigation plan is to keep vehicles moving out of the (flood) evacuation area,” Petise said. “The roundabout will keep the traffic moving freely.”

Watkins asked Petise if public outreach would be prioritized if the plan moves forward. The area includes several businesses, including a gas station, a liquor store, a car dealership and a deli.

Petise confirmed this, saying that reaching out to neighboring residents and businesses would be the project team’s first step.

“If that outreach tells you that this is gonna be a buzzsaw of controversy and difficult to execute, may I assume that you’re prepared to realize that and call off the project?” Watkins said.

“That’s correct,” Petise said. “Ultimately, we want to deliver a project, but it’s not my intention to deliver something that no one wants.”

Rep. James Grunberger, D-18, said it’s a dangerous intersection to travel on.

“People are shooting towards Harbor Point, coming down Magee, they’re whipping down Shippan, they’re crossing over (and) they’re not sure what to do either,” Grunberger said. “I think it’s a great fix, and it’s probably going to save a lot of backs, a lot of necks, and perhaps a lot of lives at the same time.”

If the contract is approved by the Board of Representatives, the design process will move forward. If the design is feasible, Petise said there are multiple state programs that could provide funding for the construction project. An estimate of the project’s total cost would come after the designs are done.

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