MERIDEN — The City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday voted against adding a stop sign on Bradley Avenue, despite several residents voicing concerns about speeding.
Police Chief JeffryCossette said he will be increasing enforcement in the area. He also said that stop signs are not intended to deter speeding and could pose a liability to the city if installed unnecessarily because they increase the chance of rear-end collisions.
The stop sign was proposed for Bradley Avenue at Harvard Avenue.
During a public hearing before the vote Wednesday, several Bradley Avenue residents told councilors speeding is a serious problem in the area. Richard Pepe, who has lived on Bradley for 35 years, said his dog was killed by a driver.
“(Speeding has) been going on for years and decades and it’s only gotten worse,” Pepe said.
Neighbor Irene Tomassetti said she believes traffic studies don’t reveal the extent of the speeding problem. She was worried about kids who skateboard or walk to school.
“I wish that a police officer would come and sit in my driveway in an unmarked vehicle for about a week to get the real picture,” Tomassetti said. “Something needs to be done about the speeding and it should be done now before we have a tragedy.”
Cossette said federal guidelines do not warrant placing a stop sign. Traffic studies showed an average speed of 32 miles per hour through the intersection, with 85 percent of drivers at or below 39 miles per hour. Radar placed in the area did record an object traveling 149 miles per hour, however, Cossette said that was likely a low-flying plane. The second highest speed recorded was over 70 miles per hour.
Thirty-seven speeding tickets were issued on Bradley Avenue between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, Cossette said.
Additionally, a traffic study conducted over 12 days in October showed an average of 1,293 cars passing through the area a day, significantly lower than the federal recommendations which call for signs in areas with 2,000 cars per day.
Public Works Director Bob Bass agreed that an unwarranted stop sign could increase the city’s liability.
“Stop signs are not meant to control speed. They do increase rear-end accidents and we’ll end up with an increase in the potential for liability,” Bass said. “I’m not in favor of putting a stop sign up. I think it would be a very bad position for all us.”
Councilor Brian Danielswasn’t as concerned, saying “statements about municipal liability on stop signs are being overstated here. I think municipal liability is extremely hard to establish in any case."
Cossette said enforcement would be the best way to reduce speeding. The police department plans to continue monitoring speed in the area.
“Once the message gets out that speed is not going to be tolerated in that area and were cracking down that will bring it down,” he said.
Councilor Miguel Castro disagreed, arguing a more permanent solution is needed.
“Once the enforcement is out the area the speed comes back,” Castro said.
A vote to add the stop sign failed to pass with Councilors Larue Graham and Michael Cardona voted to add the sign and Councilors Brian Daniels, Joseph Carabetta III and Bob Williams voting against it.
Tomassetti expressed disappointment at the decision.
“We’re not happy,” Tomassetti said. “They’ve done speed studies before. It goes back to a couple years. It sounds like stall.”