Resident opposes activation of traffic signal

Paul Degener of Portland Avenue says he and his neighbors are opposed to activating the traffic signal at the intersection of Portland Avenue/North Main Street and Route 107.

He said there is no need for the light to be working there since the former Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment project has not yet gotten off the ground.

“The light was for Gilbert & Bennett to ameliorate traffic. It is inconvenient for people living there,” he said.

While town officials have indicated it is a state Department of Transportation decision as to whether the light should be activated, Mr. Degener believes the town’s legal traffic authority, which is Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, has a say.

“Once the state accepts a project, the state is responsible for traffic signals,” said First Selectman Natalie Ketcham. While Mr. Degener believes the town can request the state not to operate the signals, it is a state decision, she said.

“I’m willing to have a dialogue with DOT, but pedestrian safety is the factor that has to be assured,” she added.

On Tuesday, Chief Fuchs said this traffic light and  another at the intersection of Routes 107 and 57 are there for two reasons — for traffic flow and to make the use of the pedestrian crosswalk safer between the Gilbert & Bennett side of the street and Georgetown’s Main Street.

“We made the crosswalks visually appealing and distinctive enough for people to see them,” he said.

The DOT liaison is checking with the department’s electrical maintenance department to see if there is any flexibility in the operation of the signals, Ms. Ketcham said. “If there is, then we’ll decide how to proceed. If there isn’t, that’s that.”

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