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Board denies request to remove 5 traffic islands

Cedarhurst Drive fixtures interfere with plowing

By Scott Bellile

The New London Board of Public Works denied a citizen’s request to the city to remove five traffic islands from Cedarhurst Drive.

Board members on March 4 reviewed Pinewood Court a resident’s complaint that the installations in the center of the road interfere with city snowplow drivers’ ability to clear off the street in the winter.

City officials suggested the resident, who is not a plow driver, circulate a petition and return it to City Hall if he finds there is widespread concern among neighbors over the issue.

“I would kind of like to hear more from people over there before we rip them out,” board Chairman and Third District Alderman Mike Barrington said of the traffic islands. “I mean, it’s going to be expensive to take them out.”

“It’s not only going to be expensive,” Mayor Gary Henke said, “but what if all of a sudden then we start getting complaints about people speeding through there?”

Cedarhurst Estates residents asked for the traffic islands in hopes they would force passerby to slow down, according to Barrington.

They were installed in 2005 along a stretch of Cedarhurst Drive between Cameron Street and Brynwood Trace.

Five years earlier, in 2000, Cedarhurst Estates residents unsuccessfully petitioned the city to close Cedarhurst Drive to traffic altogether.

Residents told city officials at the time more reckless drivers were zooming through their neighborhood since the new high school opened nearby in 1999.

The city placed four stop signs at the Pinewood Court intersection to deter speeders before installing the traffic islands in 2005.

Barrington said he opposed removing the traffic islands at the request of one person. He suggested the city survey the public first.

City Administrator Kent Hager disagreed.

“I say this is almost a complete waste of time on behalf of our staff to go and do a poll,” Hager said. “If he can get a majority of the people to sign a petition, to come in and say, ‘We want them to be removed,’ then we consider it. Otherwise they stay.”

First District Alderman Robert Besaw said the city should at least research the cost of removing the traffic islands and repaving those sections of the street, “instead of just blowing a person off.”

In a memo to the board, Public Services Director Chad Hoerth acknowledged the traffic islands cause problems for Street Department workers and people parking in front of homes.

“Our snowplowing staff did indicate the islands make it difficult to plow the street,” Hoerth wrote. “The lanes get somewhat narrow when the snowbanks build up on the sides of the street. They also stated that over the years they are guessing they have replaced 15-20 sign posts on the islands from cars hitting them. Personally I have noticed they make parking difficult during times like trick or treating or city wide rummage sales.”

Hoerth added the two traffic islands near Pinewood Court may be unnecessary because of the four-way stop.

The Press Star contacted the resident to ask for his insights on the traffic problems, but he declined to speak on the record and asked not to be named.

He said he will not circulate a petition because he believes city officials would not act on the issue.

The resident previously asked the board of public works to remove the traffic islands in 2008 but was unsuccessful.

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