Op-Ed: The ‘No Left Turn’ Is Working

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In response to the “No Left Turn” editorial posted in the NewCanaanite. Given the situation, I don’t find declaring a six-month trial a failure in two weeks in reasonable. I feel the sign is working and it and deserves the full six-month trial period the Police Commission unanimously voted for in January. The Police Commission took action because they recognized the threat to the safety and quality of life of New Canaan residents. The 1.2-mile stretch of roads passing through Marvin Ridge, Nursery, White Oak Shade, and Gerdes Roads are all significantly safer and quality of life has been restored along the route. We went from 350 cars an hour to barely a trickle in just a few short weeks. Overall traffic volume in the area is down exponentially. 

By taking this step, the Police Commission demonstrated an understanding that runs deeper than the scope of the traffic study. The fact is, the study was lacking a crucial piece of information. It was not designed to identify the source of the incremental traffic. At the January Police Commission meeting, the professional traffic engineer acknowledged that he had no idea whether the incremental traffic was coming from the Merritt Parkway or from local destinations. While it was useful in providing traffic volume data, it failed to provide this key piece of information.

In terms of safety, the issue seems to be summarily dismissed. Safety concerns are very real and should not be taken lightly. Prior to the sign being put in place there was a constant solid line of aggressive commuters speeding down from Marvin Ridge, many of whom not even stopping at the stop sign. My son recently got his driver’s license and drives himself to New Canaan High School. I feel it necessary to literally stand in the street every morning to ensure he gets out of our driveway safely. The ongoing stress of this situation is at times unbearable. In addition to my family, there are 60-plus homes along this route. Every morning there are young children who are outside waiting for, and riding in school busses. They need to be able to live and get to school safely. 

As far as the issue of the impact on neighboring roads, when this first went into effect there were a few more cars going down Marvin Ridge Road. This has since tapered off considerably. The editorial had a quote: “One Marvin Ridge Road woman said she counted 20 cars that used her driveway for U-turns in a single hour—they travel past the ‘no left turn’ sign, turn around and make the right onto Nursery anyway.” Without proper context, the takeaway is this is an ongoing daily concern. This quote was taken from a February article in reference to the second day of the new traffic pattern. There was a plea for patience at the same Police meeting. With each passing day I see fewer and fewer cars in the area. A night and day difference from before the sign was put into place. I also take issue with a reference to a pre-existing issue presented as a new development. The quote “Police say that Old Norwalk Road now is backing up regularly during rush hour all the way to the Marvin Ridge intersection”—I have personally witnessed this as far back as spring of 2018. There have been numerous mornings where I have headed to downtown New Canaan via Marvin Ridge due to the Nursery Road traffic and found Old Norwalk Road backed up well past Marvin Ridge Road. 

The “No Left Turn” sign was put in place as a six-month test as an attempt to reduce the excessive transient commuter traffic exiting the Merritt Parkway and passing through our roads each morning. By that measure it has been a resounding success. To reverse course after just a few weeks would be a short-sighted mistake that would re-open the flood gates of navigation app guided traffic from the Merritt Parkway though our roads. This would have an immediate effect of compromising the safety and reducing the quality of life of the residents who live along the 1.2 mile route winding its way from Marvin Ridge Road to the entrance to the Merritt Parkway east of South Avenue. We, as a community, cannot allow this to happen. 

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