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.

Town Fields Complaint of Northbound Traffic on Ponus Ridge Running Stop Sign

Town officials say they’ll place additional markers at a heavily trafficked three-way intersection after receiving complaints about cars running a stop sign there. Northbound traffic on Ponus Ridge isn’t seeing the stop sign on the far side of the bridge over the Merritt Parkway, at the intersection of Jelliff Mill Road, according to a complaint fielded by Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico. One reason may be that since the road was resurfaced, a ‘Stop’ bar that had been on the pavement itself hasn’t been repainted. During a meeting last week of the Traffic Calming Work Group, DiFederico said he told the complainant that the stop sign “is kind of unnatural, given the intersection, and people are not anticipating it therefore seemingly go through it.”

“But I told him we would work on getting the stop bar repainted and perhaps look into painting a ‘Stop Ahead’ on the road or something to see if we can get some more attention drawn to the stop sign for northbound traffic,” DiFederico said at the July 13 meeting, held via videoconference. 

Public Works Director Tiger Mann said he would consider putting a marker on the pavement next to a ‘Stop Ahead’ sign south of the overpass. 

“And maybe the sign needs to be enhanced,” Mann said. “We can take a look, see if the reflectivity is gone and if we need to replace it.”

DiFederico said the stop sign at the intersection itself is visible from the north “but it’s not very high in the air.”

“Maybe get it a little bit taller, get it up in the air a couple more feet might help,” he said.

Town Fields Request for Additional Stop Sign ‘South of the Y’

Town officials said last week that they’ll study traffic at an intersection in the “South of the Y” neighborhood that’s become busier during the morning rush as a result of New York City-bound motorists seeking back-road shortcuts. 

New Canaan Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico said he received a request for an additional stop sign at Conrad Road and Whiffle Tree Lane. As it is, only motorists on Whiffle Tree have a stop sign as the approach the intersection. 

“That area does get quite a bit of cut-through traffic, at least Conrad Road does, particularly in the morning, that traffic trying to avoid Gerdes and the traffic light [at South Avenue],” DiFederico said during a July 13 meeting of the Traffic Calming Work Group. The team of police, fire, public works and parking officials field requests for traffic calming and make recommendations to the Police Commission. “It is a very wide intersection, too, so I don’t know what we could really do there,” DiFederico said at the meeting, held via videoconference. “We may just kind of have to evaluate and put traffic counters out there and see what we have for volume.

Sight Line Improvements Underway at Route 123 and Michigan Road

More than one year after local public safety officials raised the problem with the state, work is getting done to improve sight lines at a notoriously dangerous intersection. 

Trees already have been cleared from the east side of Smith Ridge Road below Michigan Road, and the rest of the project should be finished by Saturday, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The intersection of state Route 123 at Michigan—site of serious motor vehicle crashes in recent years—long has offered poor sight lines for motorists southbound on Route 123, and those traveling on the state road northbound have poor sight lines for those trying to enter it. Mann said during Monday’s meeting of the Traffic Calming Work Group—an administrative team of public works, police, fire and parking officials that fields requests for traffic calming—that workers had “cleaned up the whole area” and removed dirt from a large rock along 123. The plan is “to work the week and hopefully be done by Saturday and have that whole thing dressed up and cleaned up,” Mann said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

Following two serious crashes at Smith Ridge and Michigan Roads in early 2019, traffic officials requested that the Connecticut Department of Transportation conduct a study of the area. Two months later, two people were taken to the hospital following another major collision there.