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Branford Drivers: What’s Your Need for Speed? (POLL)

A concerned resident on Damascus road sparks a larger conversation among the Police Department's Board of Police Commissioners about speeding on all Branford’s secondary roads.

The speed limit on Damascus Road is 25 mph but there’s a good chance that most drivers don’t adhere to it. Police Commissioner Kurt Schwanfelder is on a mission to find out why.

Recently, a resident contacted the Branford Board of Police Commissioners’ Traffic Committee to complain about speeding on Damascus Road between Featherbed Lane and . The resident said she walks along Damascus Road daily and finds the speed of vehicles to be an issue.

Detective Dan Travisano, head of the Traffic Division, was deployed to the area to observe the speed with radar and he issued several tickets to residents during the initiative explained Police Chief Kevin Halloran. At this time the exact number of tickets issued was not available.

“Speed has been an issue,” Schwanfelder said. “I think it would be a lot more prudent to look at the rudimentary [reason] of why we have speeding issues.”

Schwanfelder names Route 1 and the frustration it causes drivers as the number one reason he thinks drivers speed on secondary roads.

“What we need to look at,” he said, “is who we are pulling over and why.” Are they young drivers, he asked? Are they people using cellphones? Are they frustrated?

The next move, the group agreed, is to place the town’s speed trailer in the area as a deterrent; however it is temporarily out of service and in need of repair.

Halloran was tasked with finding out the cost of both fixing and replacing the trailer – an amount that can become costly as the 10-year-old trailer’s manufacturer is no longer in business. The department will also focus on data collected from the area to determine if there's really a speeding problem on that road.

Using the speed trailer, in Schwanfelder's eyes, is a "band-aid."

Speaking in general about the bahavior of speeders and their frustrations with Route 1, Schwanfelder added that the timing of the traffic lights, specifically the one at the intersection of Ivy and North Main streets takes 23 seconds to change. “If you get in a line of 10 cars,” he said, “you are waiting several lights.”

Halloran assured Schwanfelder that the timing of the light is a known issue but lamented that the State Department of Transportation is the one responsible for fixing it; the town cannot touch state traffic lights.

Police Commissioner Jon Grossman said he finds it alarming, the number of people in the neighborhoods where complaints come from, are the cause of speeding. Further, Halloran noted, that though residents might view a driver as speeding, that’s not always the case. The plan said Halloran, is to utilize a computer device that tracts the behaviors of cars, i.e. size and speed, in the Damascus Road area to make a better analysis of the situation.

As far as he’s concerned, Damascus Road and similar roads like Windmill Hill Road and Featherbed Lane, have speed issues said Schwanfelder. As a former resident of the area, he said his kids “almost got dusted” when trying to get the mail. The issue became so bad, he said, that he moved the mailbox further onto his property to keep his family and the mail carrier safe.

While Branford analyzes the speed issue on Damascus and other secondary roads through the use of technology and feet on the street, the only other solution brought on the table at the traffic committee meeting last night came from Police Commissioner Robert Gott. He said East Haven uses stop signs as a speed reducer; anyone who has driven along Coe Avenue knows that. The issues is, he said, there’s a state statute that says you can’t use stop signs as speed reducers.

For now, the speed trailer, should it be fixed and redeployed, will at least be a temporary speed deterrent. Gott noted, “It always reminds me of what I’m doing.”

Kathleen October 13, 2011 at 03:00 PM
In Guilford, River Road, is a residential area it posts 35 mi speed. Seems fast for the area. I use it often and find it a comfortable speed and don't exceed the limit. Drivers traveling from Guilford to Branford are so used to the road with it's curves must feel confident and comfortable driving it faster than than posted. However, I don't think they take into consideration the possible dangers, for instance, going thru Medlyn's and past Sawmill Road, Flat Rock Rd. Ext. and the 4 way stop as danger zones. I like the sign in Guilford before the RR Bridge slow down to alert cars about bike riders.(although the bikes need to obey the stop signs and stay in a single line, many bike's abuse their right to the road). I live on Bowhay Hill Rd. and agree with Tina about the 4 way stop on Leetes/Thimble Isl Rd. Stop and then go don't roll thru. AND Bowhay Hill has been an issue forever (I'm here 39 years) when my kids were little we put 2x4's across the road and it slowed the cars. Why can't we have a rubber summer speed bump that can be removed when the snow arrives? Recently I took a safe drivers course and it's amazing how my driving habits changed to be more alert and careful. Maybe people should take a safe drivers course. By the way if you pass you may get a discount on your auto insurance. Check it out!
ted Aub October 14, 2011 at 05:34 AM
sounds like a townwide concern,maybe a public hearing would be appropriate
Ryan October 16, 2011 at 04:40 AM
pretty much every one drives over 25 in this day and age if you are the one following the speed limit you are actually causing more of a hazard because of all the people behind you tailgating or you are just going to get passed. There is no way to monitor every street to enforce speed limits unless we hire alot more cops or put cameras on every road. As a person who drives on Stony Creek and Damascus road daily 25 is ridiculous to be honest a bike/walking lane would be better for the people walking and biking and make the limit 35 that way people won't need to speed to try and get through that long road before getting stuck behind the many seniors and that one blue Prius that drive 20 or under on the road all day long. I also agree that if route 1 was straitened out and either widened or somehow make it so the traffic every day is slower that driving the back roads you will have alot less people using the side streets as a major through-way. another idea would be a south bound 95 exit 53 so that all the people that are going to that section of town could use the highway because getting off 54 is a major inconvience so people just will continue to speed down Damascus.
Ryan October 16, 2011 at 04:42 AM
Actually a south bound 95 exit 53 would solve almost all the problems it would take drivers off those secondary roads as well as route 1 and put those people doing 50+ where they should be on the highway.
bernadette October 26, 2011 at 04:41 PM
I drive home from work every night down windmill hill to damascus to pine orchard road. I am the only one doing 30 mph. People are crazy and impatient! It's a residential neighborhood! As far as the intersection where the armory is, there is so much more traffic now than there used to be, and they may need to re-think this intersection. I had a crazy woman follow me for miles, due to road rage because "she" was rolling through the stop sign without stopping and my daughter said lady there's a stop sign, your supposed to actually stop. She followed us for at least two miles, then when we got on route one and we were at a stop light, she jumped out of her car and was screaming and yelling at my daughter through the window like a lunatic. I should have drove to the police department instead. This behavior is due to that crazy three way stop sign intersection at Montowese & Pine orchard road, that was fine when Branford did not have as many people driving around! We need a better solution for that area. I have more stories for that intersection as I travel it daily to get to and from work. All the stories have to do with people rolling through the sign and road rage! Not a safe place to drive anymore!

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