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Stats Show Queen St. Speed Bumps Diverted Traffic… But Where?

To the Editor:

I have been alerting Newtown residents for years that the objective of Queen Street residents was, in addition to speed control, significant traffic reduction. However when the Police Commission installed two, then three, and then five speed bumps the public was lead to believe that traffic diversion and reduction wasn’t significant.

Now under the Freedom of Information Act we have learned the opposite. Traffic on Queen Street has been diverted by almost 1,800 vehicles per day. The tests showed a reduction of 12 percent after only two speed bumps were installed. The commission failed to test the diversion after three permanent spend bumps were installed, and proceeded to install another two. Those results were available on November 4th yet were not made public. The Police Commission did not discuss these dramatic diversion results according to Chairman Mangiafico. He said he did not see any reason to be concerned.

Traffic data reported on November 4th indicated that of the 1,800 reduced vehicles on Queen, none appeared diverted to Glover; in fact the report claimed that traffic on Glover was also reduced by 500 vehicles. So a total reduction and diversion of over 2,400 vehicles a day, and the commission has no idea where they have gone, nor have they asked or seem to care.  So as the children’s books asks “Where’s Waldo.” It is clear the Police Commission does not care as long as they achieved their objective of reducing traffic on Queen Street by diverting 35 percent of its traffic to neighboring streets.

After three speed bumps were installed one Police Commissioner said that their objective of speed reduction had been met, yet two more bumps were installed. The Police Commission clearly had the data to predict that massive traffic diversion would occur. It is clear that speed was not the only objective, dramatic reduction and diversion of vehicles was a primary goal.  Queen Street solved their problem by forcing almost 1,800 drivers to take alternate routes to get into and out of the center of town.

It is time for the commission to reverse course, fix the problem they created and focus on ways to manage speeders without diverting traffic to other residential street. Three years ago the former Police Commission chairman had budgeted money to have a consulting firm study how speed could be calmed without diverting traffic. Instead the money was used to engineer five speed bumps with no concern about traffic diversion.

Most resident know by now that some very prominent political appointees live on Queen Street. They have lobbied the Police Commission, the first selectman and other elected officials for these changes and now they must ask the Police Commission and first selectman to fix the problem they created. (Unless that was really their original objective.) Reducing vehicle speed is one thing, diverting traffic to neighboring streets is another!  All residents deserve equal and fair treatment, not just Queen Street residents.

Bruce Walczak

12 Glover Avenue, Newtown                        January 29, 2014

Comments

Is there any Accountability when a traffic calming effort fails?

So if I understand correctly, the Police Commission did another traffic study on Queen Street and learned that its effort to "calm" Queen Street traffic, the five speed tables had actually diverted nearly 2,000 vehicles from the road. It's no wonder it took a citizen's Freedom of Information request to find out. Unless the data is not accurate, the Commission's traffic calming effort has gone terribly wrong, if we are to believe the Commission's own statements that the objective was not to divert traffic, only slow it down.

From the Commission's own minutes in August 2012........

"Commissioner Sachs asked if the increase to five speed bumps would divert traffic. He noted that the two temporary ones diverted him a couple of times and questioned what five would do.........Chief Kehoe responded that it was not a study per se as they would give the engineer the data they have already collected. In addition, he noted that the engineer would have to understand what speed the Board wants to target for that road. The Chief noted that typically speed bumps are designed for vehicles traveling 15 mph to 20 mph. He added that THEY DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT SO (SLOW) THAT THEY DIVERT TRAFFIC. Commissioner Faxon suggested that if the average speed was only 3.6 mph over the speed limit – they have achieved their goal."

So giving them credit for trying even if I disagreed with their methods, what now? Is this another case of Newtown failing to hold itself accountable and hoping its residents simply pay the bills and forget the record?

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