The latest round in the battle between residents and developers happens tonight as the Planning Commission hear from the public regarding the Transfer Station proposal on Plumtrees Road.
I'm a little behind in covering this story and for that, I apologize to the residents of the 4th Ward who are working tirelessly to stop this transfer station in it's tracks. For a primer for tonight, later I'll update this post with links to the first and second public hearing as well as the open forum held before the proposal was presented to the commission. For now, here's a copy of the recent traffic report that was done on the proposal and submitted to the Planning and zoning Department (note the conclusion on the report).
CITY OF DANBURY
155 DEER HILL AVENUE
DANBURY, CONNECTICUT 06810
ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT FARID L. KHOURI, P.E.
(203) 797-4641 CITY ENGINEER
FAX (203) 796-1586
January 10, 2008
MEMO TO: Chief Alan Baker
Local Traffic Authority
FROM: Abdul Barry Mohamed
Subject: MSW Associates, LLC
16 Plumtrees Road
Planning Code No. SE 664
I have reviewed the submitted site plans dated January 5, 2007 revised through September 25, 2007 prepared by Anchor Engineering Services, Inc. as well as the accompanying site Traffic Impact and Access Analysis dated September, 2007 prepared by Frederick P. Clark Associates, Inc., for the proposed transfer station on Plumtrees Road. To facilitate our work, several literature has been utilized in the review. This includes the following:
- Section 22a-209 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA)
- US EPA Waste Transfer Stations: A Manual for Decision-Making, 2002
- AASHTO Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 2001
- TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report No. 505, 2004
- ConnDOT Traffic Accidents and Volume Data Reports, 2004-2006
- State of Connecticut Solid Waste Management Plan, Amended 2006
- Email correspondence from Jonathon Chew, Executive Director, HVCEO to Sharon Calitro, Deputy Planning Director, January 3, 2008 regarding safety issues along Newtown Road HVCEO Data on traffic safety along Newtown Road.
A: Traffic Generation
Waste Transfer facilities are predominantly dependent on the use of heavy vehicles for their operations. Collection trucks are normally single unit (SU) trucks with 8-10 tons capacity and measuring up to 40 feet in length. Transfer tucks are normally interstate semi-trailers with 20-30 tons capacity and measuring up to 70 feet in length.
In accordance with Table 5 of the project Traffic Impact & Access Analysis, it is expected that the proposed site will generate a total of 284 vehicle trips a day. Ninety- two (92) percent or 260 of the total site generated trips will be composed of heavy trucks traffic.
B: Source and Destination of Waste
Waste Transfer facilities are generally beneficial to host communities when small trucks are utilized in the collection of waste from local neighborhoods and large semi trailers are used for long haul transportation of consolidated materials to landfills and/ or Waste-to-Energy Incinerators. In such cases, the negative effects of the heavy trucks traffic are normally off-set by the value of the garbage collection and disposal services rendered to the community.
However, when a Waste Transfer facility is predominantly involved in the importation of waste, a host community normally suffers as such facilities create insignificant benefits to off-set their negative effects. Therefore, in order to clearly determine effects of the proposed facility it is requested that the applicant provide information regarding source and destination of the waste material that will be handled. This request is consistent with the requirements of Section 22a-209-4 (iii) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies on Solid Waste Management.
C: Passenger Car Equivalency
Based on size, weight and power-to-weight ratio, trucks and semi-trailers are difficult to maneuver and slow in their acceleration. They occupy more roadway space and require gentle slopes and smooth curves. As a result, they generally decrease roadway capacity and contribute to traffic congestion. Each single axle truck is considered to be equivalent to 1.5 - 2.0 passenger cars. Therefore, in order to fully determine the impact of the site generated traffic at critical intersections, it is requested that the heavy truck trips to be generated by the proposed site be converted into passenger cars and the result be utilized in the evaluation of operations at roadway intersections.
D: Impact of Site Traffic on Newtown Road, easterly of Plumtrees Road
In accordance with the project Traffic Impact and Access Analysis, fifty (50) percent of the site traffic will travel to and from Newtown Road, easterly of Plumtrees Road intersection. However, based on the most current ConnDOT data, the roadway experiences a relatively high number of accidents. During the period January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006 a total of 276 vehicle crashes were recorded. This translates to an average of 445 accidents per mile or 92 accidents per year. Most of the accidents are turning and rear-end types of accidents. We are concerned that the heavy trucks traffic to be generated by the facility would exacerbate the current roadway safety condition. .
E: Impact of Site Traffic on Newtown Road, westerly of Plumtrees Road
The project Traffic Impact & Access Analysis also indicates that twenty- five (25) percent of the site generated traffic will travel along the westerly section of Newtown Road between Plumtrees Road and Old Shelter Road intersections. The two-lane roadway currently carries 26,000 vehicles daily. During the period from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006 a total of 228 vehicle crashes were recorded. This translates to an average 422 vehicle crashes per mile or of 76 vehicle crashes per year.
It should also be noted that according to HVCEO, the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation has identified a least six locations along the roadway to be among the major traffic accidents sites in the State. We, therefore, seek information from the applicant as to what mitigating measures would be implemented to rectify or ensure that the site generated heavy trucks traffic would not make the current condition much worse.
F: Impact at the Intersection of Newtown Road and Plumtrees Road
The applicant’s projections indicate that seventy-five (75) percent of the site generated traffic will utilize the intersection of Newtown Road and Plumtrees Road. However, the project Traffic Impact & Access Analysis indicates that currently the queue length for ninety five (95) percentile of the westbound left turning traffic volume from Newtown Road into Plumtrees Road exceeds the existing lane capacity.
In addition, based on the 2004-2006, the intersection experiences a relatively high average accident rate of fifteen (15) vehicle crashes per year. The majority of the accidents involve turning and rear-end types of accidents. We seek information from the applicant regarding the proposed mitigating measures that would be taken to alleviate the negative effects that would be caused by the site generated traffic.
G: Restriction on to use Shelter Rock Road for Access
Page 15 of the project Traffic Impact & Access Analysis indicates that at least twenty-five (25) percent site generated traffic would travel to and from the southerly section of Plumtrees Road. We recognize that due to the existing steep vertical grades and sharp horizontal curves along the roadway, no vehicle trips to be generated by the facility have been assigned to Shelter Rock Road. However, based on the proximity of the roadway to the site as well as its ability to provide a short-cut access to other parts of the City of Danbury as well as the Town of Bethel, we request that potential impact on the use of the roadway be evaluated. It should be noted that neither the applicant nor the City of Danbury will have the ability to monitor, enforce or restrict use of the roadway by private haulers.
H: Noise, Vibrations and Emissions
The heavy trucks traffic to be generated by the site will cause noise, vibrations and emissions when accessing the site, during loading and unloading of waste, dropping and picking up of containers as well as when queuing or idling at the weight scale. It is our concern that these negative impacts will affect the quality of life of the residential developments located that along Payne Road, Plumtrees Road, Shelter Rock Road as well as the low income housing development that abuts the proposed facility. The degree to which these impacts may be considered nuisance or harmful are to be determined by the Planning Commission.
I: Size of the Proposed Facility
Page 9 of the US EPA Manual for Decision-Making on Transfer Stations provides a series of formulas that help to determine capacity of proposed transfer facilities. Based on tipping floor space, a 11,000 square foot facility has a capacity to handle a maximum of 350 tons of waste per day.
In addition, Section 22a-209-9 (2) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies on Solid Waste Management indicates that the proposed facility would be required to provide a twenty-four (24) hours storage capacity. Therefore, based on the US EPA and State DEP information on capacity requirements, it likely that the request to process 500 tons per day is far be far and beyond the ability of the facility. Any reduction in the tonnage to be processed per day would have a direct effect in the reduction of site generated traffic. For this reason, we seek the following:
- Information on calculations of design capacity of the facility.
- Information on size and location of the twenty-four 24 hours storage capacity as required by CT DEP.
J: Design of Site Driveway
Although it is stated on Page 2 of the project Traffic Impact & Access Analysis that the site driveway shall be designed to accommodate large vehicles, this does not appear to be the case. It is our opinion that the design of the driveway at or within its close proximity of Plumtrees Road lacks the necessary features for safe and efficient operation of semi-trailers. The design features that need to be incorporated in the site plans are as follows:
- Provision of adequate turning path width for entering and exiting interstate (WB-62) semi-trailers. In accordance with AASHTO, 45 feet turning path widths are required for both entering and existing traffic. Absence of the feature would result in unsafe potential conflicts between the inbound and outbound traffic.
- The maximum vertical grade for the driveway within 100 feet, measured from the back of the street sidewalk into the site should be reduced from about eight (8) per cent to three (3) percent. AASHTO indicates that heavy trucks generally decrease speed by up to seven (7) percent or more when ascending vertical grades and increase speeds by up to five (5) percent or more when on downgrades. The reduction in grade will facilitate smooth transition of heavy trucks from Plumtrees Road into the site as well as allow easy stoppage at the STOP line while exiting the site, especially during inclement weather conditions.
- US EPA recommends that both deceleration lanes and turning lanes be provided at Waste Transfer facilities so as to separate heavy trucks from the stream of general traffic and, therefore, enhance traffic operations. For this reason, it is requested that within 150 feet on both sides of the site driveway, Plumtrees Road is to be widened to provide a northbound exclusive left-turn lane and southbound deceleration lane into the site. Rights-of-way within the earmarked roadway improvements is partially owned by the applicant and the City of Danbury.
K: Site Traffic Circulation
Several concerns are raised relative to design layout of site. These include the following:
- The site lacks signage and pavement markings to direct or guide the flow of traffic. It is not clear as to whether the inbound vehicles would be required to bear to the right or the left of the scale house.
- It appears that the weight scale shown on the site is intended to cater for both the inbound collection trucks and the outbound semi trailers. In order to minimize confusions and potential unsafe conditions, the EPA Manual on Transfer Stations, recommends that separate scales for inbound and outbound vehicles are to be provided at such facilities.
- In order to access the weight scale, the outbound traffic is required to cross the inbound flow of traffic. It is recommended that traffic control signage and markings be provided in the area. In is also required sightline information being provided.
- The US EPA Manual for Decision-Making recommends that buildings at Waste Transfer facilities should be arranged such that to eliminate or minimize the need for vehicle back-up movements. It is for this reason that we are concerned regarding the design layout the facility loading bays as they would require semi-trailers to make frequent potentially unsafe backing maneuvers. It is therefore, requested that the layout of the building or the loading bays be reviewed and revised.
- The site is to be provided with at least one (1) handicap space. The space is to be located within close proximity of the administrative office/ main facility building.
L: Summary and Conclusions
It is my professional opinion that this application as submitted, may result in conditions that would adversely affect traffic safety and cause undue traffic congestion. This opinion is based on the following reasons:
- The applicant has not provided information relative to source and final destinations of the waste materials, therefore, the cumulative broader impacts to the environment, including an assessment of air emissions; infrastructure and noise impacts are currently unknown.
- The intersection of Newtown Road and Plumtrees Road as well as the section of the roadway easterly of the intersection are operating poorly. Unless of improved, it appears that the site generated trucks traffic would make the existing condition much worse.
- Due to its physical characteristics, we are concerned regarding the potential use of Shelter Rock Road for access to and from the facility. The City or the applicant will not have ability to monitor, control or enforce utilization of the roadway by private haulers.
- We are concerned regarding the negative impacts on quality of life for those residing within close proximity of the facility as well as along its access routes in terms noise, vibrations and emissions that would be generated by the trucks traffic.
- Much is desired in the design of the site driveway in terms of its ability to accommodate semi-trailer traffic. In addition, the flow traffic along the site frontage need to be enhanced.
- Internally, the site lacks traffic signage and markings to direct the flow of traffic.
- The layout of the facility loading bays would require semi-trailers to make frequent unsafe backing maneuvers into a one-way exit driveway.
- We have questions regarding the processing and storage capacity of the proposed facility. Revision of its daily tonnage capacity to the appropriate level would have a direct effect in the reduction of its negative impacts.
Chapter 4 of the Sate of Connecticut Solid Waste Management Plan, amended 2006 advises that as part of the review and approval process of new Waste Management facilities, the public is to be made fully aware of the need and impacts of the new proposals through a robust participation process. It is within this framework that this report has been prepared.