‘Most Dangerous When the Kids Are Heading to School’: Residents Voice Concerns About Intersection at Farm and Main


The offset four-way intersection at Farm Road and Main Street confuses drivers about rights-of-way, a problem that’s exacerbated by limited sight lines and creates a hazard for pedestrians seeking to cross it, residents say.

Approaching the complicated Farm & Main intersection from White Oak Shade Road on a recent afternoon. Credit: Michael Dinan

Approaching the complicated Farm & Main intersection from White Oak Shade Road on a recent afternoon. Credit: Michael Dinan

Old Norwalk Road’s Samantha Connell told town officials that her kids attend Saxe Middle School as well as New Canaan High School and walk through the intersection for school as well as sports practice and getting into the downtown.

Now that sidewalks run to the end of Main Street and then down Old Norwalk Road toward Kiwanis Park, more people are walking at the intersection than ever before, but motor vehicles at the confounding intersection are focused on each other far more than pedestrians, Connell said during a recent meeting of an advisory group on traffic measures.

“The people driving through that intersection at certain hours are in a rush, and unfortunately it is most dangerous when the kids are heading to school or coming home from school and for the rush hour after practice,” she said during the Traffic Calming Work Group’s Oct. 18 meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department.

“What I have found the most difficult thing is to maintain eye contract with four drivers at the intersection. At a traditional intersection, you can stop and make eye contact with the drivers, and then you know it is safe to proceed. But it is difficult to do that as an adult on that street corner. As a child it is very dangerous.”

She suggested that the Work Group—an administrative team that includes officials from police, fire, public works and emergency management—look into a pedestrian-activated rapid rectangular flashing beacon, such as the one that allows kids to cross Farm Road to Saxe Middle School up the hill.

Tiger Mann, assistant director of the Department of Public Works, said that a request for funds to install a pedestrian beacon will depend largely on whether it affects motor vehicle traffic in a negative way. For example, the southbound traffic on Main Street now is divided into two lanes—one turning left onto Old Norwalk Road and another continuing into the intersection—and that division was created in order to avoid a queue of cars backing up on Main toward the S-curve at Down River Road.

Depending on the time of day, cars also can back up down Old Norwalk Road, Mann said.

“We can look at it,” he said. “There’s no accident history at that intersection, thank god, because it’s very problematic. Everyone has to be on alert when they’re there. The larger problem is if a string of cars want to go, they tend to gum up the intersection as far as they command it.”

Mann said he had looked at one point at installing a roundabout there, but the “fifth leg” of the intersection—one that would run toward a driveway on the corner of Farm and Main that sometimes operates as a commercial site—would over-complicate it.

Jim Sweitzer, whose daughter and family live on Old Norwalk Road, said he picks up his grandson every day from the bottom of Farm road, sitting on the bench there, and “I was staggered by the lack of sensitivity to kids and to the stop signs, quite honestly.”

Sweitzer added that kids who cycle down Farm Road often cut left into the intersection, toward Main Street and town, and have very close calls with motorists approaching from Main and Old Norwalk Road.

Mann said the beacons cost about $17,000 to $20,000 and that DPW can make a request for one in its fiscal year 2018 capital budget, so long as a look at traffic patterns shows that it wouldn’t make things worse.

Francesca Segalas identified herself as a longtime resident of Old Norwalk Road and said the speed of motor vehicles traveling on Old Norwalk Road also is a problem.

“We have the nursery school right there, we have nannies and moms pushing kids and toddlers walking along the sidewalk, and people vroom down there,” Segalas said.

She suggested installing a digital speed monitor that tells passing motorists how fast they’re traveling against the speed limit.

Police Capt. John DiFederico said he would pursue placing such a unit along Old Norwalk Road again.

2 thoughts on “‘Most Dangerous When the Kids Are Heading to School’: Residents Voice Concerns About Intersection at Farm and Main

  1. This intersection has always been tricky, but it’s been worse since the town decided to provide two lanes for the southbound stop on Main. Two lanes at one stop of a 4-way? How is that supposed to work?

  2. On July 11, 2016, when I learned that a flashing beacon light was being installed on God’s Acre from an article in NewCanaanite, I sent an e-mail outlining the same arguments presented in today’s story, along with a video created by Mike Dinan, to Police Chief Krolikowski who forwarded it to Police Captain DiFederico. AT that time I suggested a beacon light.

    Here is a link to Mike Dinan’s video that he created on April 30, 2013 at approximately 11:15 a.m. after I reached out to Mike about this dangerous intersection. It is worth noting that 3 years ago this intersection was dangerous with 4 lanes. Since then 2 turn lanes were added:


    Hopefully, because more neighbors are voicing their concerns (I have for years), a beacon light will be considered in this intersection. $17,000 is a small price to pay to protect children and other pedestrians.

    Thanks again, Mike, for raising awareness about this dangerous and busy intersection.

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