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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.”

Joe Locke October 12, 2011 at 06:21 PM
you should see how fast the cars travel down Meadow St.
Emily Charles October 12, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Thank God for this article. I live off of Pine Orchard Rd and the stop sign between Pine Orchard and Damascus is a nightmare! People blow the stop sign all the time and get angry at me when I come to a full complete stop. Someone almost hit me because they were doing 45-50 mph and didn't stop, I swerved and thankfully they missed me, they skidded all the way across the street and almost went over the curb. If they hit me it would have been on the driver’s side and I would probably be dead right now. I am looking to have children someday soon and the thought of this happening with a child in the car is terrifying. I love driving through Stony Creek, they have signs that say “Drive like your children live here.” Or something along those lines. It's almost like people forgot the rules of a stop sign. Or they just don’t care and only have their needs in mind. People used to follow the rules and have manors…it’s like humanity is gone. Is getting home 2 min faster worth your life or the life of someone else? I just don’t get it. Oh, and the stop sign near the Armory is an even bigger nightmare. I would rather have cameras at stop signs then risk losing my life because of someone who is in a “hurry.”
Maggie October 12, 2011 at 07:03 PM
I agree with Emily's comment, as I have also had horns honking when I come to a complete stop at both of the stop signs she mentioned. I live on Indian Neck Ave, which is like living on I-95! Not only do we have cars speeding up and down the road, we have beer trucks, tractor trailers that won't find under the train bridge on So Montoweese, and the trucks that go over to the sewage treatment plant! I cannot tell you how many times I have had to jump onto my front lawn when getting my mail! Stop signs along the way aren't the answer... I think traffic circles would be the answer... old fashioned rotaries! Drive down Woodward Ave in New Haven and see how much the traffic has been slowed by adding a round-about. I'd even be willing to give up a few feet of my lawn if one were to be built near the Toole Dr/Fairlawn/Indian Neck Ave intersection, as well as other intersections in town!
Bill Fasula October 12, 2011 at 07:14 PM
I second the round-about idea rather than stop signs or traffic lights, these just cause more frustration and speeding. All 4 way stops should be replaced with round-abouts. They are widely used in Europe and used to be more prevalent in this country as well. It's a simple rule the car in the round-about has the right of way.
Patrick Sweeney October 12, 2011 at 08:53 PM
The speed of traffic on Indian Neck is indeed an issue - not to mention other reckless behaviors. On more than one occasion cars have run school bus stop signs, nearly hitting children boarding or exiting the bus.
Anthony Paecht October 12, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Simply stated...this is the most necessary article in Branford as of yet. I started jogging again this past Spring/Summer and the speeding is outrageous. Bare in mind...I too drive fast myself and am not passing the buck, however there is an enormous breaking of the normal parameters of the towns speed limits. Just yesterday I actually yelled out loud to a speeder and almost felt that I myself should be the towns enforcer. lol. It has been getting out of hand. But...me being me...I will most likely be the first person pulled over for doing 28 in a 25. That's the problem with enforcing laws. Where do YOU draw the line?
Anthony Paecht October 12, 2011 at 09:00 PM
No cameras. Big Brother is way to involved these days. :)
Nicole Ball October 12, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Anthony, these are great questions! I'm glad you are happy that this issue is being discussed. It's a serious one for sure. I too started running again after a long hiatus and the speed in Branford can be a lot to combat. To avoid it all together, I used to run to Foote Park and do laps there – it's a pretty park and at least most of my run would be safe. This brings up another subject... more sidewalks...
TB October 13, 2011 at 12:44 PM
I agree with RB Leetes Island and the 4 way stop at the intersection of Stony Creek Rd and Leetes Island is AWFUL! Cars don't stop, they ride right through on the butt of the car in front of them. I have had many many close calls there, and the people are bicycles are worse. I think they feel they don't have to stop and and obey the rules of the road. I live on Bowhay Hill, a dead end with a L curve in the road and the traffic and speeding on that road is just as bad. We complained time and time again. Finally we got 10 MPH speed limit signs, no results. We have called the police and complained. They did some radar on the road and still no results. I realize the police have much more important things to do than sit on a dead end road so what is the solution? On that little dead end road i have seen many very close calls on the corner. We have small children playing in their yards that I worry about because if a car loses control they will land right in the yard. Why do you have to speed, where are you going in such a hurry on a road that is less than 1/2 mile long?
ted Aub October 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Not only do people have a total disregard for an in-town secondary road speed of twenty five mph,they also use a touch and go method at stop signs and flashing red lights.Between our school children,elderly,and emergency vehicles this creates a new dimension that is unhealthy for the community.A good example for a motor vehicle disaster is School Ground Rd culminating with the intersection of Rt 139 with its tractor trailor and heavy equipment mix with automobiles and for the grand finale come by at rush hour.Rt 139 as a contributor has vehicles at highway speeds and if you dare go the speed limit they crowd you like a drafting move in a nascar race.ABS brakes and other vehicle options do not make the driver more intelligent or courteous or even help their reaction time.Throw in a cell phone,a kindle reader,and an eyeliner brush for openers and one has the complete package for an accident.I used to love to go for a drive but now it seems like mortal combat.Good thing we have some talented body shops in the community.
Nancy Hirsch October 13, 2011 at 01:18 PM
I recently witnessed a black SUV coming from behind me on Pine Orchard Rd. going about 60 mph, blowing through stop signs. I mentioned it to an officer at a road work site and he said it was probably a volunteer firefighter. Every day I see drivers ignoring stop signs, including Branford town vehicles. It's truly dangerous & irresponsible.
Lori Fogler Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 02:17 PM
There are no sidewalks out here in Pawson Park and I've jumped onto people"s lawns numerous times while walking my dogs to avoid being hit. Being driven to distraction seems to be a sign of the times and tailgaiting is so out of control that I was tempted to have a bumper sticker made that read "Any closer and you'd be a polyp" Unless your a surgeon racing to the hospital to save a patient I'm pretty sure whatever you're doing thats causing you to speed won't matter a hundred years from now and is just not that important. Driving rudeness has surely escalated along with speeding and aggresive behavior. Maybe we're just too full of ourselves to follow the speed limits or treat other people in the community with respect. I think its a cultural/self centeredness issue and not something that will be easily fixed by a police speed indicator.
thomas kroll October 13, 2011 at 02:26 PM
definitely short beach and shore drive. people taken the back road from east haven and branford fly through that area and seriously tailgate when the road is not open for them.
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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