Petition article seeks to slow down Isaac Frye traffic
WILTON — A petition article for this year’s warrant was submitted in the hopes of calming traffic on a section of Isaac Frye Highway, down to 5 mph in one section. But the article has several issues that may not hold up under state and town law, even if approved by voters, according to the Select Board.
Resident Donald Sienkiewicz lives on the section of Isaac Frye Highway between Badger Farm Road and Blueberry Lane, the focus of the article. He submitted the article to the Select Board at its Monday meeting, with the required 25 signatures of registered voters. The article contains six different sections, all drafted with an eye towards slowing drivers down.
But although by law the article will be placed on the warrant and discussed at Town Meeting in March, in its current form it could not be enacted, according to the Select Board. Sienkiewicz said he would be willing to offer floor amendments at Town Meeting to adjust the article to align with town and state regulations.
The article calls for the paving of the unpaved section of Isaac Frye Highway between Badger Farm Road and Blueberry Lane. The article further asks that the town identify three 50-yard sections of that stretch of road, and to only pave a 10-foot width of the road, effectively creating one lane. This would require cars to slow down, stop and take turns passing on that section, said Sienkiewicz.
“My kids walk and bike up that road, and cars zoom by,” Sienkiewicz said. “We’ve had a couple of really close calls. We need to figure out how to slow down traffic in that area, and the only way to make them slow down is to make them feel like it’s not safe to drive faster.”
The move would be counter to some steps the town has already taken in that area to help improve road safety, said the town’s Road Agent Steve Elliot at the meeting. The town has spent time and money in the past to widen unpaved portions of Isaac Frye Highway.
Select Board Chair Steve McDonough said he couldn’t approve three sections of narrowed roadway, but he might be prepared to support one section. “I may be in the minority, but I would support that, because I know what you’re trying to do,” he said. “But I couldn’t support it as it is,” he said of the petition article.
His fellow Select Board members disagreed, however. Select Board member Bill Condra suggested putting sidewalks on that section of road, but both Sienkiewicz and Elliott were of the opinion that they would be too expensive to maintain and not fitting with the rural character of that section of road.
Condra said resigning that section of road to warn for curves and children playing ahead would be more in-line with what would be acceptable for him. “I’m sorry, I can’ get behind something like this,” he told Sienkiewicz.
Select Board member Dan Donovan pointed out that narrowing the road might cause more problems, not alleviate them. The road would still have a wide shoulder, he said, and cars could attempt to pass each other by pulling off onto the unpaved portion of the road.
Another section of the article called for the same stretch of Isaac Frye Highway to have a posted speed limit of five miles per hour.
Condra told Sienkiewicz that it would not be possible, even if the amendment passed, to set such a low speed limit on a public road. Unless specially zoned, he said, the minimum speed limit is 25 miles per hour.
The first four sections of the article would adjust the road design standards and specifications, allowing for roads to be as narrow as 14 feet wide for two-way street, or 8 feet wide for one-way roads . Currently, finished common drive surfaces must be at least 16 feet, with two-foot shoulders, which would disqualify the article’s suggestion of narrowing sections of Isaac Frye Highway. New roads cannot be narrower than 20 feet. The Select Board told Sienkiewicz that these sections of the article would be amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance, and the deadline for such petitions has already passed, they said.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.