The Department of Transportation (DOT), at the request of First Selectman Bill Brennan, has made modifications to the intersection of Route 7 and School Road, which Brennan and the Board of Selectmen felt to be unsafe.
But sentiments from Brennan and Interim Police Chief Robert Crosby suggest that although the modifications have been made, whether or not they will work to fix the problem is still to be determined.
At its meeting on Aug. 3, Brennan expressed that the Board of Selectmen has “been concerned over the last year or so that the turning lanes at that intersection didn’t really line up.”
“If you were facing northbound,” he explained, “and you were in that turning lane, it appeared that when the traffic was coming down it was going to land right in your lap.”
Though it would seem from Brennan’s words as though the problem has been pressing for a while, the recent initiative was prompted by an accident just south of the intersection on June 30 in which Ross Hand, a driver with Dial-A-Ride, narrowly escaped serious injury in an accident with a distracted driver.
“So after that accident,” Brennan said, “we got DOT down here very quickly; we met with them; we pointed out the problem; we sat them in the turning lanes and they got the picture. They came back, and within four days they had suggested temporary lines.”
At that point in time, Brennan, together with Crosby and Lt. Thomas Conlan, reviewed the temporary lines and approved the change.
“It was definitely an improvement, so they went ahead and they striped it early last week ... It’s much better. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.”
“We’ll see,” Brennan said. “I think they did a good job.”
According to Crosby, the DOT ground away the old lines and painted new ones about 18 inches to the west.
He said that now, if a driver is southbound, he or she will be forced more toward the right, keeping him or her further away from oncoming traffic.
“I think it’s a much safer intersection now,” Crosby said.
Having said that, however, he pointed out that although the initiative was made urgent by an extreme accident, that accident was caused by a distracted driver, and there is no guard against that.
“No intersection is safe if people aren’t paying attention,” he said.
Everything being taken into account, Crosby’s opinion on the modifications was similar to Brennan’s.
“Is it the end-all? Time will tell. What we discussed they did adequately,” he said.