Police Commission Needs To Address Traffic Problems Beyond Queen St.

To the Editor:

Comments by a resident of Main Street complaining about increased traffic and speeding on Main Street at the recent Police Commission meeting seems to have solved a mystery. We now know where the over 1,700 automobiles and truck diverted as a result of the five Queen Street speed tables went. They went on adjacent streets, specifically the residential section of Main Street. 

The Newtown Bee editorial published on Thursday, July 18, 2013, a year ago, summarizes the issue very clearly.

“A year and a half ago, in this space we encouraged the Police Commission and municipal planners to work with their regional and state counterparts to come up with a comprehensive strategy to address traffic problems in the center of town as outlined in the 2006 ‘Queen Street Area Traffic Improvement Plan.’ While the plan did suggest the installation of a ‘speed reducing table’ (bump) at the entrance of the middle school and countenanced the consideration of other similar devices on southern Queen Street, the main thrust of the study’s conclusions and recommendations was not the creation of obstacles and impediments. It recommended improvements to the flow of traffic and pedestrians along roads and through critical intersections at the flagpole, Church Hill/Queen, Glover/South Main, and Queen/Wasserman. Better traffic signalization, parking configurations, and new sidewalks were prescribed to move traffic quickly and safely through the area….

“With traffic congestion getting worse year by year in Newtown’s central commercial district, there is a great desire among struggling Newtown motorists to speed the progress on traffic improvements. The construction of obstacles on Queen Street designed to slow things down and divert traffic to other overtaxed routes and intersections seems like an inauspicious start. We are eager to see Newtown’s traffic improvement efforts move beyond Queen Street.”

That local streets would bear the brunt of the 1,700 diverted vehicles should not have been a surprise as routes to avoid Queen Street are limited. The commission failed Newtown by solving one street’s problem by creating new or expanded issues on adjacent streets. In fact the commission ignored the issue of traffic diversion before and after placing an excessive number of speed tables on a single road. The Vollmer Traffic Study, conducted some years ago, presented many suggested solutions to pedestrian safety, yet only a few, notably speed tables on Queen, were ever addressed. A crosswalk safety plan was created but apparently not acted on. The commission approved crosswalk pedestrian activated warning lights which were strongly recommended by the Director of Public Works, but the BOS never approved the small cost and the  commission didn’t pursue their own recommendation. Numerous residents from streets all around Newtown have come to the commission complaining about speeding on their roads, but little or no action has resulted.

When will the Police Commission address the issue of pedestrian safety and vehicular speeding on more than one of Newtown’s streets?

Bruce Walczak

12 Glover Avenue, Newtown                        August 26, 2014

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