Police: Route 123 Closure Has Tripled Traffic on Canoe Hill Road

Traffic volume on Canoe Hill Road has tripled from 500 to 1,500 cars daily due to the state’s temporary closure of Route 123 due to a culvert replacement, police said last week. Officials also are finding that a “significant amount” of motorists are not using the Department of Transportation’s designated detour route on the east side of 123, and are instead using Parade Hill Road, Oenoke Ridge, Lambert Road and Country Club Road on the west side, according to New Canaan Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico. “That’s not the designated detour route but it’s kind of a de facto one, especially with people who are familiar with downtown and know how to get through and around the construction site,” DiFederico told members of the Police Commission during their regular meeting, held April 21 via videoconference. “So they did put a few more signs in those locations to assist with motorists. I have put out speed counters and we have seen, obviously, an uptick in traffic volume.”

The comments came during an update to the Commission on road construction.

Town Plans Additional Pedestrian-Activated ‘Flashing Beacons’ at Crosswalks in New Canaan

Town officials say they’re hoping the state will consider funding installation of three pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at busy crosswalks in New Canaan. The three pedestrian crosswalks in question—at South Avenue and the YMCA, Old Stamford Road and Gower Road, and Oenoke Ridge and the Nature Center—do not meet state Department of Transportation criteria for speed limits and traffic volume, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. Yet the state may still cover the $16,000 cost for installing each “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon” or “RRFB” if the town resubmits the locations as “honorable mentions,” Mann told members of the Police Commission at their most recent regular meeting. “We don’t have any that meet the criteria right now but we can at least put them on the list and, if you are amenable, go forward at that point,” Mann told the appointed body during its March 17 meeting, held via videoconference. “Each one of these that is requested has been requested by the residents or by our engineering staff, based on what we are looking at and the proposed sidewalk extensions that we are looking at doing throughout town.”

Mann added, “If we can’t get approval from the state, we are planning to extend the sidewalk on Oenoke Ridge to Parade Hill [Road] this year, once we get a DOT permit, and I would like to be able to install that one with town funds if I can’t get DOT funds for it.

‘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.