Town Petitions State for Speed Limit Reduction on Route 123


Route 123 at Lakeview Avenue/Little Brook Road. Streetview

Town officials are petitioning the state to change the speed limit on Route 123 to 40 mph throughout its entire stretch in New Canaan.

As it is now, the speed limit is 45 mph from New Norwalk Road to East Avenue, then 40 mph to Michigan Road and 45 mph from Michigan to the New York state line, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.

Residents of upper 123 have asked Mann to request a reduction in the speed limit which at 45 mph “is a little bit excessive given the amount of traffic that is there,” he told members of the Police Commission at their April 20 meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department and via videoconference.

The request for a change in the speed limit on a state road such as 123 must come from the town’s designated “local traffic authority,” which is the Police Commission.

Chair Paul Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and member Shekaiba Bennett voted 3-0 in favor of the request for a reduction. 

Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico supported the request, saying the neighborhoods near 123 are often “densely populated.”

“It is radically inconsistent to go from 45 to 40 and 45,” DiFederico said. He added that even though the northernmost stretch of 123 in New Canaan is wide and straight, the road narrows again just over the state line. 

Officials also said enforcement of the speed limit will be easier if it’s just one number throughout all of 123, and that it could make it easier for drivers to grasp how fast they’re supposed to travel.

With that said, “Just because you are going to reduce the speed limit doesn’t mean people will behave,” Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said, “We don’t want unreasonable expectations.”
DiFederico said he also would like the town to petition the state to eliminate the passing zones on Route 123, saying that it’s a serious safety hazard for people with driveways located in the passing lanes of those zones.

“I just don’t understand how you are supposed to get out of your driveway,” he said. “To me it’s just incredibly dangerous and I don’t know how it is we’ve never had an accident.”

The officials decided to petition now for the speed limit change and circle back to the passing zones at a future date. 

8 thoughts on “Town Petitions State for Speed Limit Reduction on Route 123

  1. This does not seem like a good idea. CT-123 is an interconnect between NY-35 and CT-15 (Merritt). Slowing it down to 40mph and eliminating the 3 passing zones only makes it more frustrating for drivers stuck behind the landscape truck doing 30mph or the grandma rushing to her breakfast with friends at a paltry 35mph. More frustration will lead to more illegal passing and potentially more accidents, especially around train departure times. This seems like an unfortunate fix that slows down commuters even further.

    • I must respectfully disagree. Traffic on Rte 123 is dangerous. The scariest accidents reported on this website occur on that road, especially near the 45 mph zone. If it is frustrating to be “stuck behind” drivers traveling at the speed limit or even — heaven forbid — slightly below it, then leave your house a little earlier so you can stay calm.

      • The accidents that you mentioned were at the 123 and Michigan intersection and were related to limited sight lines due to the rock outcrop south of the intersection. That problem has been rectified with the demolition of the outcropping.

  2. They just need to enforce existing speed limits when to do so would have a beneficial effect as a deterrent. At this point the police seem to be intent on winning popularity contests by not enforcing the law. People driving significantly above the speed limits coming into the downtown area, school zones and areas with blind spots should be a priority. Also pedestrians using the roads for exercise as well as bicyclists could hopefully walk closer to the curb so as not to make it necessary for traffic to be held up. And the overuse of the pedestrian crossing signal activators holds up traffic usually for 30 seconds or more. That should not be automatically invoked by pedestrians when the traffic does not warrant it. Looking both ways when there are not aggressive drivers around should be enough for safety.

  3. I agree with the points made by Avinash Phillips. I think the mostly 45 MPH speed limit is fine and would not change it or would make it uniformly 45 MPH. Routh 123 is the only fairly straight road with good visibility in New Canaan and serves as a vital connection to Vista, Ridgefield, etc. Please don’t mess with it.

  4. First try to enforce the speed limits that exist before kowtowing to a few. The majority of driving incidents on 123 that I have read involve drivers under the influence. You can set any limit you’d like but that population isn’t going to adjust to speed limit changes. And Deputy Chief DiFederico, don’t worry about the narrowing of 123 over the state line. That’s a New York issue and they’re not paying your salary.

  5. Passing zones are great and speed limit is just fine the way it is – use the passing zones at least 1 time a month when stuck behind a car going 25mph

  6. I’d also like to point out that there is no passing lane on Rt 123 in NY. Removal of passing lanes in CT will lead to a 12-13 mile section of unpassable 40mph road.

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