Traffic talk raises concerns of backroad congestion, speeding

Backroads, and the drivers who use them to get around heavy traffic on Route 7, was the focus at a public traffic talk on June 23.

About 25 to 30 townspeople showed up to the Saturday morning talk, which was organized by the Ridgefield Republican Town Committee.

Bob Cascella, the committee’s treasurer, said residents of backroad communities spoke at length about drivers dangerously speeding down narrow streets.

It gets worse as traffic from state roads filters into Ridgefield’s seldom-traveled back roads, Cascella said.

“Evidently Rockwell Road is the new place to speed,” he told The Press.

He noted that the Police Commission is looking for funding for a traffic study to take another look at the town’s backroad congestion.

As soon as Route 7 gets backed up, townspeople told Cascella, traffic begins cutting through the backroads.

First Selectman

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he had heard similar complaints about rush-hour traffic. “What’s happening is that all these vehicles are getting off of 84 and they’re seeking alternate routes,” he said.

He also disputed concerns raised by some residents that a state plan to revise Main Street — which includes lining up the Prospect Street intersection on Main Street with the CVS shopping center driveway by Ballard Park — would hurt downtown businesses by pushing traffic through too quickly.

“It’s an improvement, but you’re not going to blip through,” he said. Drivers, he said, would not be “going through Main Street at 40 miles per hour.”

‘Waze’ around

Cascella said he thought the backroad backups might be due to smartphones navigation apps like Waze, which re-routes users around heavy traffic.

That puts additional pressure on narrow roads that don’t often see a large amount of traffic, Cascella said.

The situation is compounded by an average speed limit of 25 miles per hour, Cascella said.

According to Cascella, residents from several different neighborhoods showed up to speak at the meeting. Most of the crowd were middle-aged, he said, though a handful of younger residents and senior citizens participated in the discussion.

“Somebody brought up the point that if somebody were to build something, then they should have to pave the road or build a fire department to help with the impact,” Cascella said. “Unfortunately in Connecticut you can’t force someone to make offsite improvements.”

Ultimately, the meeting did not result in a vote or action, since it was mainly intended for public feedback.

“It was more of a discussion. I think we’ve opened up a dialog now,” Cascella said. “We probably raised more questions than we answered.”