Coventry residents complained about the "raceway" their roads have become and urged the Traffic Calming Council to work on solutions for traffic congestion problems throughout the town during Monday's meeting in Town Council chambers.
Residents expressed their concerns and frustrations about the increased number of vehicles traveling through their neighborhoods and the dangers they are posing to their families and neighbors.
The intersection of Arnold Road and Johnson Boulevard has become an ongoing area of concern, according to Coventry Police Chief Bryan Volpe. “We have set up traffic cars and pulled over many, many vehicles,” he said. “We issued 16 citations during the second week of May and there has been a lot of speeding there. So that people continue to get the message, we will be telling the officers on traffic details that we will continue to have a zero tolerance to speeding.”
Bob Stewart, of Colonial Road, was looking for a solution to the dangers of speeding. “It is like a raceway," he said. "There has also been a proportionately high percentage of motorcyclists, many with no mufflers or exhaust systems."
Some suggested installing new traffic lights or other measures to slow speeders, but Department of Public Works Superintendent Dennis Smith said it is cumbersome to work through the legal process for such measures. “There are 11 warrants of criteria that have to be met before we could approve a light. In 1996 when those warrants were run (for Arnold Road and Johnson Blvd.) , they all failed," Smith said.
Agreeing there has been a marked increase in traffic since then, CTCC members decided to look into hiring a traffic official for a study. “The study should not cost over $5,000,” Smith said.
There was much discussion about Williams Street, being used by an increasing number of motorists to avoid the traffic light at Togue Ave and Sandy Bottom Road. There is a heavy volume of traffic there, especially involving cars accessing the CVS Pharmacy there, according to CTCC member Anthony Filo. “We found out there is an average of 17,000 to 23,000 vehicles per day from Sandy Bottom Road to Tiogue Ave.," he said.
Adam Blessing, of Williams Street, between Sandy Bottom and Tiogue Ave., is “looking for a permanent solution” for his family and others on the small street being used as a cut-through by motorists to avoid lights and congestion. “There are nine kids and nine dogs on the street and three dogs have been killed (by traffic),” Blessing said. “In a half-hour one day, I counted 174 cars going both ways. Maybe it could be a one-way or a dead-end.”
CTCC members agreed to look into the problem. “If we were to consider it to be a one-way, we would first need input from the fire district,” said Smith.
Arbor Drive continues to be under surveillance due to several complaints in recent months. “We have received no further complaints since the last meeting,” said Volpe. “But we will have a continued presence in the area.”
CTCC members said that installing stop signs or speed bumps is not always the answer to slowing down traffic on Arbor Drive or elsewhere. “We don’t want to set a wrong precedent by constructing speed bumps,” member John Goward said.
In other old business, the CTCC agreed to look into two more matters: the installation of a flashing light near the Hopkins Hill Elementary School , to be facilitated through the School Department; and a more "advanced" safety area, involving a cross walk and sign on Station Street, which could be constructed and upgraded by as early as the end of July.
Tiogue Avenue construction has not yet impacted the area, Volpe said. “The whole project will be done in stages,” he said. “The main digging will be done in the fall. But it will be slow going later, so plan ahead."
Committee members said they will consider having some streets temporarily made one-way to cope with increased traffic around the construction area, something that will involve more research and input and likely involve Town Council approval.
Having police trailers in some spots has been useful, according to the chief. “The data gathered from these trailers is input into a computer to give a clearer indication of how fast and how many people are traveling in that area,” he said.
Ted Jendzejec, CTCC and Town Coucil member, said it might be time to go a step further. “We have been looking into the Community Speedway Program,” he said. “It gets citizens involved in certain issues of speeding such as taking a course on how to use a hand-held radar or laser gun.”
“Citizens trained in using radar guns would be in a stationary position and record how fast someone is going and would have to take down a person’s registration and provide other descriptions,” Chief Volpe said, expressing “some reservations” about using residents. “This would not be a ticket or citation. Information would be sent to the department, an officer would log in the complaint and a letter would be to the offender saying they have been tagged. But this would involve a slow vetting process to put the right type of person in the right locations at the right time of day. We don’t want confrontations.”
In new business, Jendzejec said he received a number of emails with suggestions for stop signs and speed limits and other measures. “Reducing speed and relieving congestion is our main concern,” he said.
The committee agreed on a timeframe to respond and act on resident complaints, with a minimum of 60 days to respond and 120 days on what measures to take. “It doesn’t mean that we will wait that long to act and respond to complaints,” he said. "We have already been working on some complaints tonight. We just don’t want to get too bogged down.”