The town and state could improve safety at a sharp curve on Old Stamford Road/Route 106 by installing roadside radar speed signs and “rumble strips” along the double-yellow centerline, according to a traffic engineer hired to review the area.
The town also should paint hatched pavement lines in the wide paved shoulder of the curve near 93 Old Stamford Road, according to Michael Galante, director of traffic at Norwalk-based Hardesty & Hanover.
“This section of Old Stamford Road is not illuminated with street lights and, therefore, further reduces the visibility of a motorist traveling through this curve,” Gallante added in a Nov. 8 report obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request.
“The accident study indicated that 67 percent of the accents occurred at night, as well as all three fixed object accidents occurred at night. Therefore, it is recommended that the Town work with the Utility Company to install light fixtures on existing poles, located on the easterly side of Old Stamford Road, north of Old Studio Road (northerly intersection) and the vicinity of the [Bristow] Park.”
The recommendations come as town officials say they’re working on a plan to improve safety at a dangerous curve on state Route 106 where serious crashes involving teenage drivers occurred in September.
The town hired Gallante to review the area of the sharp curve between the northern intersection of 106 and Old Studio Road and Bristow Bird Sanctuary—to see “if any improvements can be made,” according to New Canaan Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico.
“Obviously it’s a state road, so we need a traffic engineer to do that,” DiFederico told members of the Police Commission during their Oct. 20 meeting, held at NCPD headquarters and via videoconference.
DiFederico’s comments came during a general update to the Commission on traffic-related matters.
The Commission is expected to discuss Gallante’s recommendations at its next scheduled meeting, on Nov. 17.
According to the Galante’s report, the posted speed limit on Old Stamford Road is 30 mph with a recommended speed limit of 25 mph in the area of the curve. Using traffic data collected between 2016 and 2021, Galante concluded that motorists regularly exceed that speed limit—for example, the 85th percentile speed during four days in July 2016 was 38.77 mph for 2,840 vehicles.
The stretch of Route 106 between Oak Grove Place and Old Studio Road saw six crashes in the three-year period ending Oct. 31, 2021, Gallante said in the report.
He said in the report that beyond the recommendation ended short-term solutions, “any modifications to Old Stamford road must be reviewed and approved by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and implemented by CTDOT.”
“Although CTDOT installed a series of ‘curve warning’ signs for both directions on this section of roadway, there have been recent accidents due to potentially motorists traveling at a higher rate of speed than is appropriate for the roadway conditions or curvature of road,” the report said. “Motorists have traveled off the road and hit fixed objects typically located on the west side of the roadway in the curve, had a sideswipe-type accident with a motorist traveling in the opposite direction and in one case an actual head-on collision.”
Municipal officials have been trying to improve pedestrian and motor vehicle safety in the area for at least eight years. Several families with young children, including South School students, live on Old Studio Road, and many of those kids walk to school by using a crosswalk at the intersection of Route 106 and Gower Road, though there’s no sidewalk on the western side of the heavily traversed state road there. (The state has not yet approved the town’s plan to install a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon at the crosswalk.) The town recently installed sidewalks on Gower Road closer to South School.
Gallante noted in the report that the town as part of its long-term planning for the area is considering installation of a sidewalk on the western side of Old Stamford Road, from the area of Bristow Park to Gower Road.
“The concern is that if a sidewalk is constructed along the westerly side of Old Stamford Road and through the curve described above, additional physical restraints should be installed to separate the pedestrian walking along the side of the road and a motorist traveling both northbound and southbound on Old Stamford Road in the vicinity of the curve,” Gallante said in the report.
The town and state may consider installing a guiderail separating the sidewalk from the roadway, though “it would be appropriate to remove the wide paved shoulder within the curve on Old Stamford Road so that a sidewalk and guiderail are provided and maintained within the State right-of-way,” Gallante said. “A reduction of the width of the wide paved shoulder, installation of a guiderail, sidewalk and possibly a curb could further reduce speed and act as a traffic calming measure.”
Police Commission Chair Paul Foley told DiFederico during the October meeting that he has heard from some residents of the area and that they’re “very appreciative of your showing up and being there” to discuss their concerns.
DiFederico said, “We recognize that there needs to be something done there. And hopefully we’ll come up with something.”
The deputy chief had served in the past on what was called the Traffic Calming Work Group—an administrative team of police, fire, public works, parking and emergency management officials that used to meet publicly to discuss requests for traffic-calming measures in New Canaan. Citing traffic safety concerns at Route 106 and Carter Street, Selectman Kathleen Corbet last month called for the group to reconvene its public meetings.