New London Making Changes to Busy Bank Street

One of New London’s busiest streets is getting a facelift – at least temporarily.

By Thursday, traffic will be reduced from two lanes to one lane on Bank Street, from Tilley Street to State Street.

With the extra space, there will be a four-foot buffer on either side of the street to hopefully give drivers more space to park and get out of their cars safely, Public Works Director Brian Sear said.

The goal is to not stop the flow of traffic.

"You crane your neck, you look in the rearview mirror, you have to have somebody get on the sidewalk and tell you it’s clear to go and you hope that you have a window opening up and closing," Sear said about the challenges of getting safely out of the car.

There will also be signs indicating that bicyclist can share the road with drivers.

"There’s no way to drive down this road on your bike. It’s too crowded," Vicki Doyle Dunn, a resident, said about the current biking situation on Bank Street in New London. She said she'd be more inclined to ride if the street was welcoming to bicyclists.

The program is a pilot that will be in place for 90 days, but based on its success, it could eventually become permanent, Sear said.

City planner Sybil Tetteh said the money comes from a state's Department of Transportation grant to help with traffic circulation downtown.

"It’s just too jammed packed. There’s so much traffic coming down here all the time. It’s hard to get in and get out," Catherine Crouch, of Groton, said.

Some Bank Street businesses see the pilot program as a positive, like Ellen Cummings, the owner of Flavours of Life, The Fair Trade Store.

"It will make it a lot easier for people in New London to come downtown and park, and shop, and get in and out of town," Cummings said.

Other business owners, who didn’t want to be named, are worried there will be even more stopping on the street with just one lane of traffic.

Some drivers also share that concern.

"The only thing that worries me is when Electric Boat lets out in the afternoon, how backed up it’s going to get around here," Janice Rosenthal, of New London, said.

There are signs telling drivers they cannot park on Bank Street starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Around 8:30 p.m. the road will close and crews will start painting around 9 p.m., according to Sear.

The paint they are using is not permanent since the program is just a test.

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