‘No Parking’ Signs Installed To Improve Safety at Marshall Ridge and Richmond Hill Roads

Town officials have installed new parking signs in a residential neighborhood just south of the downtown following concerns from residents there that increased on-street parking has created a safety hazard. At the recommendation of the Traffic Calming Work Group, ‘No Parking Here To Corner’ signs have been installed toward the northern end of Marshall Ridge Road, where it intersects with Richmond Hill Road. 

An administrative team that includes members of the Police, Fire, Parking and Public Works Departments, the Work Group fielded a Marshall Ridge Road resident’s request for traffic-calming following what she described as a car crash during the morning school and work rush. According to Dawn Belles, a vehicle traveling eastbound on Richmond Hill Road at about 8:10 a.m. on a recent morning struck a vehicle with a mom driving her son toward school as that car tried to exit from Marshall Ridge. “Its very lucky kids weren’t around crossing to get to the bus stop on [Marshall] Ridge,” Belles wrote in her email to traffic officials, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. With motorists, possibly commuters, parking on both sides of the road in the morning, that end of Marshall Ridge becomes dangerously narrow, to the point where school buses sometimes have difficulty getting through, Belles said in the letter.

Resident Voices Traffic Safety Concerns at Weed and Elm

Town officials say they’ll see whether it’s possible to move the line instructing motorists to stop at the top of Elm Street closer to Weed Street, following concerns from a longtime resident of the intersection that limited sight lines risk serious car crashes. Mike Field told members of the Traffic Calming Work Group at their Sept. 17 meeting that Elm Street’s westbound motorists “feel obliged to stop short because that is where stop sign is, but you absolutely not see anything from there.”

“So what happens is, people coming along going southbound on Weed, they think they have right of way over all that space between that stop sign and the area in front of it,” Field said at the meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department. “And a lot of people don’t slow down, and a lot of the screeching and breaking and swearing comes from the fact that somebody is trying to creep forward, and somebody else who is not really visible until they get pretty close to the top of the hill there starts blasting their horn.”

Composed of members of the Police, Fire, Parking and Public Works Departments, the Work Group is an administrative team that fields requests for traffic calming and advises the Police Commission. 

Field suggested installing stop signs for Weed Street traffic at Elm, saying “that would stop people who are barreling down Weed Street trying to get to work or coming into town and I don’t see anybody slowing down.”

Yet there are already stop signs the Frogtown Road intersection nearby, and it’s dangerous to try and use stop signs to slow down traffic, according to Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico, a member of the Work Group. “The problem with putting a stop sign where it really doesn’t belong is that it gives people a false sense of security,” he said.

Town Recommends Reducing Speed Limits to 25 mph Throughout Three Local Roads 

Town officials last week voted to recommend lowering the speed limits on three local roads so that they’re 25 mph throughout. 

The Police Commission voted 3-0 at its June 19 meeting to establish the new speed limit throughout Old Norwalk Road, Wahackme Road and Weed Street. “They should be uniform,” Chairman Sperry DeCew said during the regular meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department. “Almost all of them [local roads] are 25 [mph].”

Commissioners Paul Foley and Jim McLaughlin also voted in favor of the change. The change is meant to create more uniformity among local roads, which would then be 25 mph throughout New Canaan. (State roads such as Routes 106, 123 and 124 allow for higher speeds.) After residents of Silvermine Road complained about the 30 mph speed limit there, the town lowered it to 25 mph despite warnings from police and others that doing so would not change motorist behavior.

Traffic Calming: Town Considers ‘Rumble Strips’ To Alert Inattentive Motorists

Town officials are considering whether to place raised strips along the centerlines of some New Canaan roads in order to warn inattentive drivers drifting toward oncoming traffic lanes. The state would need to sign off on a proposal from New Canaan to install “rumble strips” along specific stretches of Routes 106, 123 and 124, according to members of the Traffic Calming Work Group. The administrative team—which includes members of the Police, Public Works, Fire and Parking Departments—fields requests for traffic calming in New Canaan and makes recommendations to the town’s local traffic authority, the Police Commission. Rumble strips derive their name from the alarming sensation of driving over them, and experts say they can reduce the number of crashes that result from motorist inattention. Local drivers are already familiar with rumble strips, which are installed along edge lines of the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 95.

Town To Keep ‘No Turn on Red’ at Farm and South

Saying it makes the busy intersection of Farm Road and South Avenue safer, officials determined recently to preserve the ‘No Turn on Red’ signs there. 

Prompted by a New Canaan High School student who observed that about 40 percent of motorists before and after school turned right anyway at the stop lights at Farm and South, Public Works Director Tiger Mann had asked state transportation officials to study the intersection to see whether it might make sense to remove the signs.  Ultimately, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (South Avenue is a state road, Route 124) recommended keeping the signs, as more than 3,000 total vehicles move through the intersection daily at peak times, and more than 75 pedestrians and cyclists, mostly school-aged, walk across some part of the intersection on weekdays. “It was noted that there were more pedestrians crossing the intersection that did not make use of the pedestrian signals, particularly during the afternoon peak hour,” DOT Transportation Engineer Catherine Watras told the town in an email summary of the state’s findings. “These are the peak hours for vehicles, and the turning movement counts indicate even more pedestrians during the peak times for school aged pedestrians due to the elementary, middle, and high schools in the immediate vicinity with requirements for all students residing within certain distances to walk. The intersection falls within those distances for all age groups. Even though the Town authorities have indicated that a policeman is posted at the intersection during the morning and afternoon peak school pedestrian hours, the staggered times for school start and end times already span 45 minutes, resulting in less coverage for either the high school students that begin the school day earlier or the later younger elementary school students.”

Though a three-year crash history of the intersection shows no crashes involved right turns, that’s with the ‘No Turn on Red’ signs already in place (which they have been since 1978), Wattras said.