Citing an ongoing need for traffic improvements at Route 106 and Carter Street, Selectman Kathleen Corbet this month called for a group of public works, safety and parking officials to reconvene their regular meetings.
The ‘Traffic Calming Work Group,’ whose members in the past have included the public works director, police deputy chief, fire chief and representatives from emergency response and parking, and “been in place for a number of years” before discontinuing its public meetings in the summer of 2020, Corbet said during the Board of Selectmen’s most recent regular meeting.
“I think over COVID that sort of work has still been going on, but sort of the formal meetings that we’ve had on a monthly or every-other-month meeting, I’d like to recommend that we reinstitute so that there is more public participation,” Corbet said during the Oct. 5 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
She referred to a work group that last met July 13. During that meeting, as it intermittently for a number of years, the group discussed problems at the intersection where Canoe Hill Road and Carter Street come into Silvermine Road, which doubles at that stretch as state Route 106.
New Canaan has petitioned the state in the past for a stop light or four-way intersection there three or four times, and those requests have been denied, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
Corbet flagged the problem at a selectmen meeting last month, and since then the intersection has seen two more crashes, she said. The town is now in talks with traffic engineer Michael Galante regarding alternate solutions such as improving sight lines and re-configuring the Carter Street approach to 106, Mann has said.
Corbet said she has talked to Mann about “the re-formation of the traffic calming committee, which I think is a good source and opportunity for people to share their concerns about both pedestrian and vehicle safety.”
In the past, Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico has taken input and discussions at meetings of the Traffic Calming Work Group and brought recommendations to the Police Commission, which is New Canaan’s local traffic authority, as defined by state statute.
As he had last month, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan described the intersection of 106 and Carter as not dangerous.
“For the record—you like to say ‘for the record,’ right?—I have had one email in three-and-a-half years, from John Sheffield’s daughter—12-year-old, 8-year-old daughter—about that intersection,” Moynihan said, referring to Williams in part of his statement. “So I have not seen the evidence. The Police Department indicates that they don’t consider it a high dangerous intersection as far as Carter Street. So I have not seen it. Kathleen apparently gets emails form people.”
Williams asked Moynihan whether he has driven to the intersection itself.
Moynihan replied, “I’m around town a lot more than you are, Nick. So but I would ask you to share those with me. Anything you receive, share with me.”
Corbet indicated that she already had shared her concerns as well as other people’s concerns, and said she would continue to do so.
Williams said, “I literally used to live a couple hundred yards away from that,” referring to the intersection.
Moynihan said. “That’s different than the police saying it’s a dangerous intersection.”
The first selectman added, “I consider a dangerous intersection at Elm and Weed, right? And I voiced that concern. Because we have a lot of people walking to Irwin Park now that almost get run over.”
Moynihan has said in the past that the intersection of Elm and Weed Streets is an “obvious” place for a four-way stop—according to Google Maps, the Elm Street condo complex where Moynihan resides is located 492 feet from the intersection—even though police have said installing additional stop signs there would be dangerous, unnecessary and otherwise problematic.
Police and traffic officials two years ago told a resident of the area who proposed installing stop signs at Weed and Elm that accident data doesn’t point to a safety problem at the intersection, that it’s dangerous to try and use stop signs to slow down traffic, and that residents who enter Weed Street from Woods End Road object to installing a stop sign for southbound motorists because it would back up traffic past their street, making it difficult to get out.
Williams noted during the Oct. 5 meeting that Corbet had raised the problem of 106 and Carter a full month earlier.
“In fairness to Kathleen she brought this issue up, which I agreed with” Williams said. “And then I think we had two crashes there.”
Moynihan said, “And I wasn’t aware of that. No one brought it to my attention. But I would appreciate you informing me because otherwise I don’t know.”
Williams said it’s “always been a dangerous intersection.”
“We’ve kind of just lived with it,” he said. “Maybe we shouldn’t just live with it now.”