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.”