WETHERSFIELD - A group of residents at Morrison Avenue is calling for a second stop sign where the road intersects with Orchard Street.
The absence of a stop sign on Morrison Avenue for cars going eastbound presents a significant safety risk, say proponents of such a measure. There is a stop sign for traffic going westbound from the Silas Deane Highway.
“The people coming off Tifton don’t have enough time if a car is coming from the eastbound direction,” said Morrison Avenue resident Gus Colantonio. “It’s not safe.”
Colantonio, who frequently argues his case at Town Council meetings, is leading the push.
“There’s about 45 kids that cross Morrison Avenue [going to school every morning],” Colantonio said. “I’m afraid that somebody is going to get killed.”
His argument is that Morrison Avenue was not meant to receive through traffic from the busy Silas Deane Highway when it was originally constructed. Colantonio points to Hillcrest Avenue, which runs parallel to Morrison Ave. A 2007 police traffic study reported an average daily traffic count of 441 cars for Hillcrest. Monitoring of Morrison Ave. over the course of one 24-hour period saw 730 vehicles pass through.
The residents have been waiting for an additional stop sign at the intersection of Orchard Street since 2006, and they may be waiting a lot longer.
That’s because the Wethersfield Police Department can’t put another one there--even if it wanted to. State guidelines, which align with Federal traffic control regulations, can put a stop on stop signs. A set of specific standards dictates the conditions under which one can be erected, according to Lieutenant Andrew Power of the Wethersfield Police Department.
“The biggest mistake towns make is they put up stop signs that are very difficult to enforce, so if a stop sign were up there, Gus would be sure to call and say people are blowing it,” Power said.
One of the complaints surrounding the issue is the speed that made up the 85th percentile of the traffic study--cars in that category were going 31 mph or less. The speed limit on Morrison Avenue is 25 mph.
“One of the things it prohibits is putting up a stop sign for speed,” Power said.
The traffic volume argument, in this case, does not hold up either, Power said. The conditions outlined by the Federal government stipulate that a minimum of 300 cars must pass through a major street per hour for an eight-hour period for a stop sign to be permissible. For minor streets, it’s 200.
A more recent 2012 study of Morrison Ave reported an average amount of 33 vehicles per hour at the highest, Power said.
Under the guidelines, the intersection would have to see five accidents that could have been prevented by a stop sign within any 12-month period to warrant the need for a stop sign, according to Power.
“If a guy pulls out of his driveway and hits a parked car, that doesn’t count,” Power said.
The intersection at Orchard and Morrison Avenue has not seen any accidents, according to Power.