The Queen Street Area Traffic Improvement Plan currently under review by borough and town officials is a 29-page draft report that outlines $1.89 million in traffic improvements to Queen Street, Glover Avenue, and Main Street. It is a testament to sq
The Queen Street Area Traffic Improvement Plan currently under review by borough and town officials is a 29-page draft report that outlines $1.89 million in traffic improvements to Queen Street, Glover Avenue, and Main Street. It is a testament to squeaky wheels: all the wheels (squeaky and otherwise), that roll along Queen Street much to the annoyance of the residents there; and those same persistent residents who have voiced their complaints with greater vehemence and urgency than have the residents of other neighborhoods with similar problems.
The title of the plan is an indication of just how much influence those residents have had on the process. The traffic problems addressed in the plan are problems that arise from Queen Streetâs proximity to a much busier and far more hazardous street, Main Street. Yet the Main Street crux of the problem becomes just a precinct of âThe Queen Street Areaâ in the report addressing traffic problems in the center of town. The emphasis of this effort has been clear from the outset: Queen Street is the main area of concern.
Perhaps the best evidence of this is the proposed creation of speed bumps, or âtraffic calming tables,â on the southern, residential portion of Queen Street. Unlike similar constructions proposed for the street in front of the middle school and the Meadow Street intersection on Glover Avenue, which seem to address pedestrian and motorist safety issues, these traffic impediments are not near crosswalks or intersections and are solely intended to slow traffic down, probably to the point of diverting it onto the already overburdened Main Street. These speed bumps will clearly identify Queen Street as a favored neighborhood, especially to the residents of Toddy Hill Road, or Boggs Hill Road, or Huntingtown Road, or any of the other winding cut-through residential roads rife with speeders. While these other roads have more blind turns and are frankly more dangerous than Queen Street, it is Queen Street that gets âtraffic calming tables.â Speeding on these other streets will be addressed byâ¦ what? Potholes? If we are serious about addressing Newtownâs worst speeding problems, we should probably take a wider view than a snapshot traffic study of âThe Queen Street Area.â
Traffic congestion and excessive speed should not be trivialized in Newtown. Too often, the two combine with lethal results. Some of the proposals included in the report by consultants Vollmer Associates, LLP, of Hamden, offer practical suggestions to quell the vehicular mayhem, especially at crosswalks where pedestrians venture into the fray and near the middle school where kids join the mix. But the proposed major transformation of Main Street in the area of the flagpole, where long established parking areas will disappear and an elongated stiletto-of-a-traffic island will be carved into the pavement at the base of the flagpole like a permanent shadow extending north, seems like gross overdesign. Traffic engineers, like all engineers, place a premium on innovation, and in the context of their training and expertise, this may look great. But as the saying goes, when the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Town and borough officials, in conjunction with the Police Commission, the townâs traffic authority, need to spend some more time thinking outside this particular toolbox before they commit the townâs aesthetic and treasure to this kind of innovation.