Citing Danger, New Canaan Seeks to Get Rid of Passing Zones on Smith, Oenoke Ridge Roads


Saying a pair of passing zones on state roads through cut through New Canaan are dangerous and encourage nothing but speeding, town officials are asking the Connecticut Department of Transportation to do away with one on Smith Ridge Road and another on Oenoke.

The Police Commission on Wednesday voted 3-0 in favor of putting forward a formal request to do away with the passing zones along straightaways on both state Route 123 (Smith Ridge) and 124 (Oenoke Ridge).

The passing zone on Smith Ridge Road. Credit: Michael Dinan

The passing zone on Smith Ridge Road. Credit: Michael Dinan

Police Capt. John DiFederico said the passing zones rarely serve their purpose—instead of allowing people traveling within the speed limit to pass very slow motorists, they create potential for a head-on.

“I haven’t been getting any emails of people driving too slowly,” DiFederico said during the commission’s meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department. “All I get are emails of people driving too fast and there is really no need for it, and actually there is a grave potential for a serious accident, if you live up there and you are in your driveway, if your way is clear to proceed but then you pull out and another car is passing, you could have a very tragic situation.”

The request had been backed up Tuesday by a team of police, fire, emergency management and DPW officials known as the Traffic Calming Work Group. In that group’s meeting, also held at NCPD, DiFederico said that in all his years with the department, he’s never seen a motorist traveling 25 mph and then someone going 40 mph—in other words, staying within the speed limit—passing them.

“That probably never happens,” he said. “What you probably have is somebody going 35 or 40, and somebody passing at 60 [mph], which is not what it’s for.”

The traffic group also decided to ask the state for a sign south of the intersection of Smith Ridge Road at Michigan (that is, for northbound traffic) that there’s an intersection ahead. A sign alerting motorists already is posted for southbound traffic.

One thought on “Citing Danger, New Canaan Seeks to Get Rid of Passing Zones on Smith, Oenoke Ridge Roads

  1. As someone who did a fair amount of driving on Oenoke Ridge in the 1970s – 1980s (and I still miss my little powder blue VW Bug!), I applaud this as a great stride! Frequently, passing cars left me in their dust. But what really frightened me was that the passing car driver either did not see or simply didn’t factor in the speed of the opposing lane oncoming traffic. I shudder when I think back to all of those “close shaves” from back in the day. So I, for one, hail this decision – and driving in hail is yet another reason to make these Ridges no-pass zones!

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