‘People in This Town Don’t Like To Walk’: Officials Advise Commission To Leave Loading Zone Unchanged

New Canaan shouldn’t relocate or otherwise alter a frequently abused loading zone on Main Street, police said this week, because doing so would only move the problem elsewhere and risks an exacerbating intervention by the state. 

Instead of making the loading zone at the East Avenue intersection shorter—or moving it, or changing the times at which non-truck-driving motorists are fined for parking there—the town should do all it can to notify drivers that it’s trucks-only from 7 to 11 a.m., authorities said during Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Police Commission. The loading zone itself does get used sporadically throughout the day, New Canaan Police Community Impact Officer Kelly Coughlin told the appointed body. “It does get busy on that upper half of Main Street,” Coughlin said during the meeting, held via videoconference, referring to Main between East and Locust Avenues. 

“So I do notice that parking fills up, but the other thing I’ve noticed is the other half—the lower half, south of that intersection—there are quite a few spaces right by Connecticut Muffin, in front of Gofer, on both sides. A lot of those businesses aren’t open until 11 o’clock or in COVID times, even 12 [p.m.] or later, but a lot of people don’t seem willing to cross over the crosswalk or go a little bit further. People want the convenience of parking right in front of the store.

‘It’s Busier Than People Think’: Officials Re-Examining Main Street Loading Zone

Municipal officials say they’re collecting data to help determine whether to change the parking rules or configuration in a long-discussed area of downtown New Canaan that’s seen a rise in recent years in service-oriented businesses. Members of the Police Commission are asking an officer assigned to the downtown beat to observe the area of Main Street just north of East Avenue in the mornings. Officer Kelly Coughlin will gather information for police and parking officials so they can better understand how heavily a 7 to 11 a.m. loading zone there is used by delivery trucks, and whether those seeking to patronize businesses in the immediate vicinity have ample on-street parking spaces further up Main Street or across it, in front of Town Hall. The main focus is a two-hour window from 9 to 11 a.m., when parking enforcement officers are patrolling downtown New Canaan and several businesses that front the loading zone—including greenology and StretchLab—are open and busy serving customers and clients. “It’s busier than people think,” Coughlin told the Commission at its Jan.

Three-Week Road Closure Planned for Downtown

Parts of Locust Avenue and Main Street will be closed at night as part of a three-week project slated for April, officials say. Eversource’s work on Locust from the area of Forest up to Main, and then down Main to East Avenue, is expected to start around 9 p.m. and continue until about 5 a.m., according to Project Manager Charlie Frangis. “Since it’s at night it will be less of an imposition but we just want to detour traffic, including trucks, either through or around the construction site,” Frangis told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting, held Jan. 20 via videoconference. 

The state requires a letter from the town’s local traffic authority (the Commission) for Eversource to do its work. Commission Chair Paul Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and member Shekaiba Bennett voted 3-0 to approve the necessary road closures and detours, contingent on including New Canaan Fire Department officials being included in the planning.

Town Officials Urge State To Delay Route 123 Project Until Spring 2021

Saying they’re concerned about starting a construction project so close to a major holiday as well as the date that asphalt plants shut down for winter, town officials voted Wednesday night to urge the state to put off a bridge replacement along Route 123 to next spring. As it stands, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s replacement of a box culvert just north of the state road’s intersection of Glen Drive would start Oct. 12 and continue for an estimated three weeks. The work will require closing Route 123 in both directions. 

Yet the contractor on the job has itself asked for a delay because the materials for the culvert now won’t be available until Nov. 2, meaning any bad weather will delay the project into December, according to New Canaan Public Works Director Tiger Mann.

Police Step Up Traffic Safety Efforts Near Schools As Academic Year Opens

Saying they expect to see more kids riding bikes to school and for motorists to grow impatient amid increased morning traffic, police are hiring additional officers for the start of the academic year. For at least the first two weeks of school, which starts Monday, additional officers will be positioned at intersections near schools to ease motor vehicle traffic and help direct both pedestrians and cyclists, according to Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico. Though morning school traffic means vehicles will be forced to travel more slowly, “people do get impatient, so I am concerned about bike safety and people trying to get to where they are going as fast as they can, even in traffic,” DiFederico told members of the Police Commission at a special meeting, held Aug. 26 via videoconference. “So I am a little concerned about having extra kids on bikes,” he said.