Saying it would improve safety for walkers, including many schoolchildren, town officials last week voted in favor of installing pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at a crosswalk near South School.
The mid-block crosswalk on Gower Road, connecting the Douglas Road neighborhood to the playground at South, currently has “the normal pedestrian signs with the down arrows and ‘Pedestrian Crossing Ahead’ signs for this crossing,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told members of the Police Commission during their Jan. 18 meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department and via videoconference.
Parents have come to the town asking for upgraded signage there, he said.
“Given the fact that we are trying to promote more foot traffic to the school and more pedestrian traffic in the area, they requested that we upgrade to a rapid rectangular flashing beacon,” Mann said. “So I wanted to bring that to your attention and request that approval. I think given the fact that it’s a school zone, given the fact that we are asking—this gathers students from Douglas, and Orchard, that entire area, Park Place, Fairy, toward the school—I think it’s a very good upgrade for that area. So we wanted to make you aware of the request and ask to upgrade the signage. I think it’s a very good thing to do.”
Police Commission Chair Jim McLaughlin, Secretary Shekaiba Bennet and member Paul Foley voted 3-0 in favor of the installation.
The project will cost about $10,000, Mann said, and there’s funding for it in the Department of Public Works budget. The “rapid rectangular flashing beacons,” which have been located at several crosswalks throughout town, alert motorists to pedestrians using crosswalks with flashing signs at either end.
Danielle McRedmond, a parent in the neighborhood who attended the meeting via Zoom, thanked the Commission.
“ A lot of the students in Douglas-Orchard-Fairty don’t get the bus and so a lot of students are walking and using that crosswalk, so I think it would be a great improvement to the safety of our students,” she said. “Thank you for considering it. It’s greatly appreciated.”
Mann noted in addressing the Commission that the town recently installed a new sidewalk along the southern edge of South School, to Southwood Drive, “and that brought this crosswalk into a finer light.”
Police Chief John DiFederico said it was an appropriate improvement for the heavily pedestrian area.
“We did receive a request from the school principal earlier in the school year for the same thing, to improve that, and it makes sense,” he said. “There’s a lot of walkers in that area, a lot of kids that don’t take the bus, that either go to South School or Saxe or New Canaan High School. But it does concentrate the inter-school walkers in that area, so it makes sense.”