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New Police Commission Faces Continuing Traffic Concerns



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New Police Commission Faces Continuing Traffic Concerns

By Andrew Gorosko

Several residents concerned about longstanding local traffic/pedestrian safety issues attended the Police Commission meeting this week to emphasize the need to make safety improvements at three hazardous areas — Queen Street, the Main Street flagpole intersection, and Key Rock Road.

Those residents explained on January 3 that they consider it a appropriate time to emphasize their longtime concerns, when considering that three of the five members of the Police Commission are newly elected to the panel. The Police Commission serves as the traffic authority for the town and the borough.

In response, commission members said they would consider the residents’ comments and seek solutions to the traffic safety problems.

Resident Dan Shea told commission members that he has lived at 44 Queen Street for the past 44 years.

“I remember when you could walk on Queen Street safely. This is no longer the case,” he said.

Mr Shea explained that he has attended commission meetings several times to make his concerns clear about motorists who speed on Queen Street.

Mr Shea noted that a section of Key Rock Road recently had broad speed bumps, known as speed tables, installed by the town to hold down traffic speeds. He added that such speed tables are an effective deterrent to speeding on Edwards Street in New Haven, near Whitney Avenue.

Mr Shea urged that the town install speed tables on Queen Street to hold down vehicle speeds there.

Queen Street has been the subject of two traffic studies during the past decade, said Police Chief Michael Kehoe. The subject of Queen Street safety has been thoroughly discussed, he said.

However, it appears that nothing ever changes for the better in terms of Queen Street safety, Mr Shea said, terming it a “gridlock situation.”

Several years ago, a child who was on Queen Street, near its intersection with Borough Lane, nearly died after suffering serious injuries due to a hit-and-run accident, Mr Shea said. The offending driver was never found.

Also, Mr Shea observed that installing sidewalks along Queen Street, as has been proposed by the town, would not be a good idea. The presence of sidewalks along the street would, in effect, invite people to walk in what is a hazardous place for pedestrians, he said.

“There’s going to be a tragedy…Something has to be done,” Mr Shea said of the potential for a pedestrian fatality on Queen Street. “No one’s been killed yet. It’s just a matter of time,” he said.

Mr Shea said he has been complaining about Queen Street safety issues for the past 30 years, adding that no steps have effectively been taken by the town to address his concerns.

“It’s a horrible situation. It has to be addressed,” he said.

Police Commission member Brian Budd noted that the town has a set of procedures posted on the police department’s website concerning “traffic calming,” which residents may pursue in seeking to improve traffic conditions in their areas.

It was through such procedures that speed tables were installed on Key Rock Road, Mr Budd said.

Chief Kehoe said town officials are considering various steps to improve the traffic situation on Queen Street.

“Obviously, you don’t consider this a serious issue,” Mr Shea responded.

Police Commission member Joel Faxon said there are a number of roads in town where high speed traffic poses public safety problems.

Police have been vigilant about enforcing traffic laws on Queen Street, he said. “You can’t catch everybody all the time,” he said.

Mr Shea said he attended the January 3 commission meeting because the commission has three new members and he wanted to make his views known to them.

“There’s an urgency…What do we have to wait for?…I hope you give this serious thought,” he said.

“I will talk to my friends on Queen Street and we will come back,” he said.

Police Commission Chairman Paul J. Mangiafico said that he agrees with many of Mr Shea’s comments about the Queen Street traffic problems. He added that his friends who live on Queen Street often complain to him about speeding problems there.

“This [issue] is not going to sit idle…I don’t think we can afford to say this is going to go on for another ten years,” he said.

Police Commission members will develop a solution for the problem, he said.

“I hope you guys act with your hearts and do the right thing,” Mr Shea said.

Mr Shea said he could bring 40 people with him to a Police Commission meeting to demonstrate public support for Queen Street traffic safety improvements.

Flagpole Intersection

Resident Ed Miklaszewski of 4 Chimney Swift Drive urged Police Commission members to have the town conduct a two-month test at the hazardous Main Street flagpole intersection during which a traffic control agent would direct traffic there for the sake of safety and improved traffic flow.

Mr Miklaszewski had made similar urgings to the commission last October, but such a test did not occur.

“It should have been done a long time ago…Just try it,” he said.

Mr Miklaszewski said he does not want traffic signals installed at the five-legged intersection.

Mr Budd said that posting a traffic control agent at the flagpole would create a safety issue for the agent, when considering the heavy traffic at the intersection.

Chief Kehoe said the flagpole intersection is a difficult, dangerous, complex intersection where it would be hazardous for a traffic agent to work.

Mr Faxon observed that while traffic signals at the flagpole may be a safe way to address the traffic problems there, such a measure likely would be publicly unpopular for aesthetic reasons.

Mr Mangiafico said the traffic issues experienced at the flagpole are no different today than they were ten years ago. If anything, traffic conditions there have worsened in the past decade, he said.

“It’s not getting any better, and it’s not going to go away,” he said.

Mr Mangiafico said he does not expect that having a traffic agent at the flagpole is the solution to the problem.

In the past the state had offered to install traffic signals at the flagpole intersection, Mr Budd said.

But there was public opposition to it, Chief Kehoe added.

The state has jurisdiction over that intersection.

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Mr Mangiafico said, adding that the commission will continue to seek a solution for the problem, including contacting state legislators on the matter.

“Time is not going to make it better. If anything, time is going to make it worse,” Mr Mangiafico said of the flagpole intersection traffic problems.

Mr Miklaszewski urged that a solution be found.

Key Rock Road

Also, resident Richard Huisking of 31 Key Rock Road asked Police Commission members to reconsider the placement of one of the two existing speed tables on Key Rock Road.

Mr Huisking noted that after motorists cross over the two speed tables on that street, they tend to speed up again. The road has a 20-mph speed limit.

Mr Huisking asked that the town reposition the northern speed table, which is located near the swamp, to another location on the street to make it a more effective device to control speeding. He said he does not have a problem with the location of the southern speed table, which is located near North Branch Road.

Chief Kehoe told Police Commission members that he would prepare a reference book for them providing them with information on various traffic issues.

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