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. People pulling out of their driveways into traffic. And on the northern end they’re pulling out into a 45 mph passing zone, which is incredibly dangerous. But unfortunately the state only looks at motor vehicle analytics and if there’s no accidents, they don’t want to do anything. So we’re a little frustrated with the outcome.”
“There’s really no recourse for us,” DiFederico said.
Commissioner Paul Foley voiced his displeasure.
“I’m just glad they took a whole year to decide this,” he said dryly. “I think it’s a wonderful use of time.”
When Foley said, “So if we have enough accidents then they’ll change their mind or review it again, I guess?” DiFederico responded, “Maybe.”
Foley then said, “Gotta love ‘em.”
Public Works Director Tiger Mann said the state may have taken even longer to respond to the request had it not been for the diligence of Jennifer Mardorf, administrative assistant to the chief of police.
“I would get a phone call from a resident, they would call Jen and she would push the thing along,” Mann said. “Without that extra push I think it would have taken longer.”
There’s no appeal process for the town, Mann said.
DiFederico said that at the time state officials came to New Canaan to review Route 123 traffic he asked whether police could assist by providing information, but the DOT declined that help.
“They did come out and visit and I asked them, ‘Why didn’t you ask us to go with you to give you some local insight as to what we’re experiencing?’ and they said they don’t do that because they don’t want it to bias the outcome of their review,” DiFederico said.
Mann noted that the state did ask for DiFederico’s view on the matter at some point. However, the chief said, that was after the state “basically already decided” to deny the request.
Perhaps the Town should lobby the state of install speed cameras on Rt 123 to at least keep people to the 45 mph posted limit. This is not quite as effective as reducing the speed limit, but would improve the margin for driver error by slowing down those going 50 mph or faster.
Reducing the speed to 40mph and taking away the passing zones will only slow down people even more. America is littered with 55mph roads that have driveways and allow passing. Stating a safety issue when an accident has never occurred is like saying driving can be dangerous. Between slowing down the roads and slowing down the trains, a commute to NYC has increased from about 80 minutes when I moved here in 2008 to about 105 minutes presently. Keep in mind that there is no passing from the north intersection of 123 and 35 to the New Canaan border. This straight and clear mile is the best chance for drivers who wish to pass grandma or the landscaping truck.
Double down. Ask again for 35 mph, like we have on portions of 124/South.