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Aldermen Address Traffic Jams on Howe Avenue

Shelton's Street Committee passed a new ordinance prohibiting the blocking of downtown's main intersections.

If you've ever driven along Howe Avenue during rush hour, you know what a headache it can be. Which is why Shelton's Street Committee passed a new ordinance prohibiting the blocking of an intersection.

At the Board of Aldermen's regular meeting, held Feb. 9 in , the members nearly unanimously passed the motion. President John Anglace, Jr. said it represents a concerted effort by alderman Eric McPherson and the Street Committee to address the traffic congestion downtown.

"We need to put this into effect regardless of possible flaws," Anglace said. "But in order to make it work we need public support, not punitive action like signs and painted road markings." Such strategies are largely ineffective, he said.

As the ordinance stands right now, only downtown's main intersections will be affected by the "no block" rule, including Howe Avenue at Center, Bridge and White streets.

Nearly a year ago, Shelton Patch columnist Kaitlyn Carroll . "Poor traffic light timing and impatient drivers lead to daily tie-ups on Howe Avenue," she said in March 2011.

"With the problem ongoing for years, it is evident drivers are not going to cease blocking the intersection out of simple common sense," Caroll said. "As such, something more needs to be done to prevent an accident from occurring in the area."

Residents seemed to agree, then and now. "The lights definitely need to be timed differently," said Shelton resident Susan, who commented on Carroll's article. "I travel this road home from work daily and sometimes it takes 7-10 minutes to get from Center Street to the corner by the bank and - I've actually timed it!"

Mayor Mark A. Lauretti was the single Board member to vote against the ordinance last Thursday night. He said he was not in favor of it because he does not think it will do anything to solve traffic problems.

"They're [the traffic issues] are far more reachable than anything this ordinance will do. I want to be on record saying this is an effort in futility," Lauretti said.

Bill Wood February 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM
I try to avoid the area at all cost's, the traffic is deplorable as we all know. I agree with Mr. Lauretti, something more than an "ordinance" has to be done. What would it take to adjust the timing of the traffic light's ? And why hasn't this issue been addressed sooner.
Jeff February 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Isn't either law or basic common sense to not "block the box" in the first place? I agree with the mayor and go further to say this is a political effort in lip service and it insults the intelligence of the public. What messes up the traffic often times are people using the crosswalks at a single intersection where the others continue on their regular cycle. ALL lights need to be simultaneously timed to each allow a limited time to cross, a limited time for the turn arrow to be lit, and then all at the same time be green or red in the same direction. The other annoyance is that somebody who wants to take a left to go to Derby doesn't move over enough to let cars pass around to go straight by Mr. Butts. Eliminate the parking slot right there then that compounds that problem. Hey at least everyone has a little extra time to say hello to the Liberty Tax Statue of Liberty. Lol.
John Szczesiul February 14, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Make Howe Avenue ONE WAY northbound and Coram Avenue ONE WAY southbound. Most cities have ONE WAY major streets. Years ago roads around Huntington center were made ONE WAY.
thomas harbinson February 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Unfortunately, it is a lesson in futility as it stands thus far. 1) Public Act 09-171 allows municipality to designate intersection by ordinance that shall not be blocked by vehicles (ok to this point). 2) It requires notice to vehicle operator via signage and marking the boundary of the intersection with 1ft wide lines, and diagonal lines through the entire intersection, also 1ft in width (the "punitive" actions stated in the patch article to be ineffective, are in fact required). 3) The Public Act says that It can not apply to those making a turn (such as Center Street left onto Howe Ave, or those on Howe Ave turning left onto White St., which are mostly the issues in downtown area), 4) Local ordinance or law has no impact unless enforced: infraction is recognized, written up and fine imposed (downtown graffiti being one example that needs similar improved enforcement), 5) the intersections of concern are controlled via State DOT devices of poor signalization (out of local design / mgmt). A solution to downtown traffic flow must be found. Improvement will not be found in managing the current state of design, but rather in changing (in some cases drastically) the entire downtown layout. One suggestion: http://g.co/maps/pzeuy
Danielle A. Elwood February 15, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Yet they refuse to address or do anything about the traffic, speeding and dangerous situation on Coram Road. EVEN after a POLICE OFFICER was HIT by a car in the same area...
Jeff February 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM
John I'm not sure how that would work if Howe Ave is a state road with point A being lets say Howe at Route 8 and Levenworth leading up to White Hills. The southbound situation you propose would be a zig zagging disaster would it not if coming from White Hills? Thomas, that map link is unclear to make out. Could you explain what all the color lines mean?
thomas harbinson February 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Jeff: Just because it is a state highway doesn't preclude Howe Ave (Rte110) from becoming one way if it is an improvement to flow overall. Rte108 is one way as it goes around Hunt Green, and also as it splits from White Street toward the library, vs the library toward Echo Hose. Making any 2way road a 1way would require at least one of the directions to an alternative, and making the core of downtown a center to rotate around, a rotary design or "roundabout" traffic method would move counter clockwise, and thus the southbound Rte110 would rotate (not quite zigzag). The benefit is that it could remove all signalization from every intersection in downtown. The map from previous link is a marked up google map. zoom in as is normal, and click on any of the markups to see descriptive bubbles.
Walt February 15, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Re-open Wooster St to bypass downtown to Derby, that was a mistake to have closed it.
Jeff February 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Thomas it makes sense on paper but there are several issues. I can't see how you can eliminate signals because you have 2 high volume head to head issues and that's at the corner of Howe and White in front of Mark's of Design and Center St and Howe by Liquid Lunch. I think it's unrealistic to think there are going to be cordial interactions of people merging into rotaries. I think you're asking a lot of tractor trailers to make all those turns some of which are very tight. You also are making residential areas where residents park their cars into major routes. I think also without signals and a more rapid flow of traffic, at least that being the premise, it's going to discourage people from partaking in the retail offerings downtown.
thomas harbinson February 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Wooster Street from Plumb to Howe was abandoned and property split to adjacent property owners. From Howe to Canal is under construction and will eventually reopen. Jeff: Never a head to head as all turns or straights have their own lane and then merges occur. Howe south traffic stacks at White due to limited flow at Bridge on traffic turning left, and Center south traffic stacks at Howe. Both are due to not enough capacity on Howe, and that's only improved by creating more traffic lanes, and that's achieved by eliminating current parking. Howe Ave North across from Marks Design has a straight lane that stacks 3 cars, and those passing that way have to jog from the left turn lane (which backs up) and into the curbside lane, only to jog back away from curbside due to parking in front of Pizza jt. Yes tractor trailers were thought of, and all turning radius is more reasonable (consider the current Center to Howe left, or How to Center right. Residential parking from White toward Plumb is already the Rte108 route and making it one way improves safety factors beyond what exists. Goal is not "rapid" traffic flow, but "steady" flow. Current flow is start/stop effected by signal lights, and give way or yield interactions improves that. Heavy volume rotaries can utilize signal lights to balance the flow within the rotary, but there is never a stopping of traffic so that vehicles can "cross" traffic because that is a flow "interruption".
Jeff February 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I think all this plus the elimination of parking on Howe and downtown retail becomes a ghost town and puts an end to the concept of downtown revitalization. Shelton will be unfortunate to not be able to have their cake and eat it too. Just my opinion.
Walt February 16, 2012 at 03:57 PM
If they take away about three feet of the sidewalk area along Howe, that is the area of brickwork and trees, this will allow for continued on street parking as well as true two lane traffic through the center. The traffic lights MUST still be better synchronized in order for traffic to flow through.

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