A proposal to turn Old Mill Road into a cul-de-sac has hit a dead end. Instead the Police Commission has approved a variety of enhanced measures to improve safety on the road.
Approximately 25 Old Mill Road residents who attended the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, May 8, were hopeful the commission would consider making the road a dead end to deter speeding and prevent accidents. However, after a discussion with Town Attorney Pat Sullivan, the commission decided there were too many risks to go forward right now with the cul-de-sac proposal.
Instead, the commission approved the creation of a “zone of safety” by removing trees and adding diagonal yellow lines and a traffic cone by the Cobb’s Mill Inn. It also agreed to enhance traffic enforcement on the road, which is narrow and twisty in parts.
In February, following a recent car accident, residents asked the commission to consider putting speed humps on Old Mill Road to slow down traffic. They complained that because of speeding, the road was dangerous for buses, schoolchildren waiting at bus stops and for residents trying to get in and out of their driveways and get their mail.
Old Mill Road crosses into Wilton, where it becomes Cobb’s Mill Road. It is often used as a cut through for commuters who wish to avoid Route 57 (Weston Road).
At the commission’s February meeting, Town Engineer John Conte said he was opposed to speed humps in general, and believed the twisty and turny nature of Old Mill Road would be particularly dangerous for speed humps because sightlines are poor in areas. In the past, the commission has also opposed speed humps, noting they can do more harm than good.
At the commission’s March meeting, Mr. Conte proposed making Old Mill Road a cul-de-sac, ending the road at the Wilton line where it becomes Cobb’s Mill Road. Residents were supportive of the cul-de-sac proposal, as was the commission, who agreed to have town counsel review it.
On May 8, Ms. Sullivan said she had several concerns about the proposal to make Old Mill Road a cul-de-sac.
Procedurally, she said the plan would have to go before the Board of Selectmen and be approved by Town Meeting. She said the town of Wilton would also have to approve the plan because its roadway would be affected.
She said anyone who was an “aggrieved” party could appeal the decision in court. Unlike in land use, where an aggrieved party is an abutting owner or neighbor, Ms. Sullivan said an aggrieved party in this case need only be someone with an issue of “common convenience” regarding the road. “It’s a very low standard,” she said.
She also said the proposal would require an 8-24 approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission. “There are a lot of hurdles to this,” Ms. Sullivan said.
Because the road is so narrow in spots, she said there may be safety concerns about emergency vehicle access. “Roads usually have two access points,” she said.
She was also concerned that Old Mill Road might be too long for a cul-de-sac. “Shorter would be better,” she said.
Mr. Conte said in light of Ms. Sullivan’s concerns, there were other things that could be done to improve the safety on the road. He said the vertical line of the road could be improved and some trees could be removed to improve sightlines.
Commissioner Bill Brady asked if Connecticut Light and Power could possibly take down some trees, and Mr. Conte said that might be possible.
Commissioner Peter Ottomano asked if it would be possible to put speed humps on the road. Although in the past the commission opposed them, since there were speed humps already on the Wilton end of the road, in this case it wouldn’t be out of line to put them on Old Mill Road, Mr. Ottomano said.
Mr. Conte said it would take a lot of work to get the road in suitable shape for speed humps and he wouldn’t recommend it.
“As a board we cannot do nothing. The road is getting worse and worse,” Mr. Ottomano said.
Commissioner Jeff Eglash asked if traffic enforcement could be increased on Old Mill Road, and Police Chief John Troxell said it could be but it would require sufficient manpower to put officers on duty there. The posted speed limit is 15 miles per hour in Weston, and 25 miles per hour on the Wilton portion of the road.
Commissioner Jess DiPasquale recommended creating a safety zone by Cobb’s Mill Inn with diagonal lines, a traffic cone, and a speeding box. “It’s just a temporary solution, but it’s something we can do right now,” Mr. DiPasquale said.
Brian Jaworski of 26 Old Mill Road asked if an additional stop sign would help. Mr. Conte said it would depend where the sign was located, but Commission Chairman Rick Phillips said he didn’t think a stop sign would do much good.
Greg Reilly of 38 Old Mill Road said he thought additional traffic enforcement and giving out speeding tickets was a good idea.
“The key to enforcement is doing it, stopping it, then coming back to it. It will take money and overtime,” said Commissioner Beth Gralnick.
Ali Farsun of 37 Old Mill Road called Old Mill Road “dangerous” and “hazardous” and said a breaking gate at the end of the cul-de-sac could be used by emergency vehicles if needed for another entrance or exit.
The commission authorized Mr. Conte and Chief Troxell to discuss Old Mill Road and various proposals with the Board of Selectmen. The selectmen meet next on Thursday, May 17.