‘People Are Just Not Stopping’: South School Crosswalk To Get Pedestrian-Activated Flashing Beacon

Saying the leadership at South School has flagged a safety issue for kids, town officials on Wednesday approved the installation of a second set of pedestrian-activated flashing beacons on Gower Road. The Police Commission about one year ago approved a set of “rapid rectangular flashing beacons” or “RRFBs” for a crosswalk leading from a Douglas Road neighborhood pathway to a playground at South. 

During its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Commission approved another set of RRFBs for a crosswalk located further east, near a parking area at the school. Public Works Director Tiger Mann, in seeking approval from the appointed body, said the new request came from both New Canaan Police School Resource Officer Shane Gibson and South School Principal Matt Kascak. Though the first set of RRFBs has been helpful is slowing Gower motorists, “the problem still is that cars are not stopping for kids as they want to try to come through the crosswalk,” Mann said. “And this is probably the major artery for walkers to South School to come down Gower Road and cross this intersection,” he said at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.

Police Commission Takes No Action Following Sight Line Concern at Farm and Main

Saying the intersection works as-is, members of New Canaan’s local traffic authority will take no action in response to residents’ call for changes at the Main-Old Norwalk-White Oak Shade-Farm Road four-way. The Police Commission in December received at least two letters from residents voicing concerns about a picket fence recently installed atop a stone wall on the south side of Old Norwalk Road, at the intersection. Obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request, the letters note that the fence appears to violate two sections of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see pages 154 and 161 here). In a Dec. 6 letter to the Commission, Peter Cooley notes that the fence atop the rock wall is taller than allowed and also in a public right-of-way.

Town Pursuing Traffic-Calming Measures on Conrad Road

Responding to traffic and safety concerns from the neighborhood, town officials say they’re asking the state for permission to make changes in the area of Conrad Road. Officials are asking the state Department of Transportation whether Conrad—a cut-through between Gerdes Road and South Avenue for motor vehicles seeking to get onto the Merritt Parkway at Exit 37—could be designated as a “no thru traffic” street, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The town also can ask the state whether the timing of the light at Gerdes Road and South Avenue could be adjusted in order to release more motor vehicles from Gerdes onto the Merritt, Mann said, though that “would be very difficult to enforce.”

“We would just be shifting it back to Gerdes one way or another,” Mann said during the Police Commission’s July 19 meeting, held at police headquarters and via videoconference. The DOT’s Office of State Traffic Administration or OSTA “might not have a problem because it would be intra-town not inter-town, but it might be a problem with enforcement,” he added. In addition, the state’s “primary concern all the time is traffic on their road,” Route 124/South Avenue, Mann said.

Commission Approves Crosswalk for Elm Street at New BOE Offices

Officials this month approved a midblock crosswalk downtown to ease pedestrian passage between the new Board of Education offices and a local business. The Police Commission during its May 18 meeting voted 3-0 in favor of installing a crosswalk at 220 Elm St., connecting the New Canaan Public Schools offices to Walter Stewart’s Market. Some students who attend programs at the Board of Ed also work at Walter Stewart’s, prompting the superintendent of schools to request a crosswalk for safe pedestrian passage, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “They have a kind of a working relationship,” Mann said at the meeting, held at New Canaan Police Department headquarters and via videoconference. Commission Chair Jim McLaughlin, Secretary Shekaiba Bennett and member Paul Foley voted to approve the crosswalk.

‘We’re a Little Frustrated’: State Denies Request to Change Speed Limit on Route 123 

One year after the town formally requested that the state make the speed limit along Route 123 in New Canaan 40 mph throughout, the Connecticut Department of Transportation issued its denial, officials say. Citing safety concerns, the Police Commission last April backed the town’s request to convert two 45 mph zones—at the southernmost and northernmost stretches of the state road through New Canaan—to 40 mph. The state “took over a year to analyze it and came back and basically said they’re not going to change anything,” Police Chief John DiFederico told members of the Police Commission at their April 19 meeting, held at police headquarters and via videoconference. “They agreed to extend the 45 mph zone a little bit further south of the Lakeview area but that was it,” DiFederico said. “They are not going to change it.”

He added, “This is all residential areas, all residential roads.