Will more Wilton parents driving kids to school cause traffic jams? Police say no

Traffic builds at the four-way intersection of Route 106 and Belden Hill Road at 10:15 a.m. on Aug. 21.

Traffic builds at the four-way intersection of Route 106 and Belden Hill Road at 10:15 a.m. on Aug. 21.

Jeannette Ross / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — While most parents have said they intend to drive their children to school, police say they don’t expect too many traffic jams when classes resume on Aug. 31.

For one, parents are being asked to drive their children to school in waves. Secondly, with a hybrid opening, only half the student body will be in school at any one time. Half the students will attend Monday and Tuesday and the second half will attend Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be devoted to remote learning for everyone.

“With the hybrid plan, we’re hoping that alleviates excess volume issues,” Capt. Rob Cipolla said last week. Nevertheless, police officers will be out the first week monitoring the situation.

“We will have one officer at each location,” he said. “The main objective is to see where the buildups are, if anything is readily identifiable. Hopefully, it all runs smoothly. That first week we will get an idea.”

If there is a problem and police are there, they will try to assist, he said.

Classes at Cider Mill School on School Road begin at 7:40 a.m. Parents will drop their children off in six-minute intervals beginning at 7:20. Buses will also begin arriving at 7:20, as is usual.

Miller-Driscoll, with driveways on Wolfpit and Belden Hill roads, begins class at 9:05. According to the school’s website, morning drop-off by car will begin around 8:30. Buses will arrive when most of the car drop-off is complete.

Middlebrook did not respond to a request for its parent drop-off plan.

Overall volume down

According to Cipolla, overall traffic volume in Wilton has been considerably lower than usual since the coronavirus pandemic hit hard in March.

Belden Hill Road is a popular bypass for Route 7, and traffic can back up quite a bit at the four-way stop with Route 106 (Wolfpit/New Canaan roads).

“We haven’t observed it to be the kind of issue we’re used to,” Cipolla said. “In terms of congestion, we will see once school is back in session.”

Another choke point is the left-hand turn from Route 7 north onto School Road, which provides access to both Cider Mill and Middlebrook schools.

In past years, Cipolla said, “that has always been a topic of discussion. We are hopeful that on a day-to-day basis we will see half the school population on any given day.”

Ironically, Cipolla said one means of reducing traffic volume around schools is to have more children ride the bus.

“We’re in a different world right now,” he said. “We’re encouraging people to drive themselves or be driven to create more room on the buses.”