Proposed bus facility will not impede Milford traffic, study says

Durham School Services buses parked outside of the former Sears Auto Center at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on August 14, 2020

Durham School Services buses parked outside of the former Sears Auto Center at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on August 14, 2020

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — The proposed school bus depot at 615 Plains Road will not adversely affect traffic on the nearby roads, according to a study prepared by Alfred Benesch and Co.

The traffic study is the latest submission to the Planning and Zoning Board by 615 Plains Road, LLC, the developers seeking to expand the bus facility site used by Durham School Services, the school district’s transportation provider.

Durham School Services and 615 Plains Road, LLC, entered into a long-term lease to allow Durham to use the building at 615 Plains Road for a general office, dispatch, bus inspections and general maintenance and private fueling station. Proposed improvements to the surface parking lot will allow school bus and employee parking for 69 school buses and 67 employees, including drivers and eight on-site staff employees.

The P&Z meeting scheduled for this week has been canceled. The board will hear the updated plan from 615 Plains Road, LLC, for the Durham school bus facility on June 7.

The traffic study focuses on the potential impact of the work on surrounding roadways — Plains Road at Raton Drive, Plains Road at Shelland Street, Plains Road at West Rutland Street and Bic Drive at Shelland Street.

“Field measurements show that there is sufficient sight distances available from both site driveways for vehicles to safely exit the site,” Stephen Ulman, senior project engineer, said in the study.

He added that the capacity analysis conducted for the no build and build volumes for the intersections surrounding the site will continue to operate at the current level during both the morning and afternoon peak hours.

During the March 3 P&Z meeting, City Planner David Sulkis said projects in the city have required traffic studies. Some have been smaller residential properties and projects with smaller traffic impacts than the proposed application.

“We have required a third-party review, simply because of where those uses were in existing residential neighborhoods,” he said. “The concern with this, unlike the mall site, this site is immediately adjacent to a dense residential neighborhood, and there is concern this use will have, perhaps, a negative impact on those neighborhoods.”

The proposal first came before the P&Z in January, but after a wetlands violation, the developer was forced to put a hold on all plans, because site work had been conducted without the approval of the Milford Inland Wetland and Watercourses Agency.

The site will have a maintenance building and parking for 72 cars, 52 large buses, 21 small buses, and three passenger vans, yielding a total of 150 spaces. School buses run in three shifts morning, 5:30 to 9 a.m.; midday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and afternoon/evening, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“On an average day, 65 to 70 school buses are needed during the morning and afternoon shifts with about 25 buses during the midday shift,” said Ulman. “The expected number of total new trips is 77 vehicles entering and 70 vehicles exiting the site during the morning peak hour, with 70 vehicles entering and 77 vehicles exiting during the afternoon peak hour.”