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Cops vow to turn tide against beach area traffic complaints

Genevieve Reilly, Fairfield Citizen-News
Published 3:20 pm, Friday, September 16, 2011
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Police are assuring residents living near Fairfield's beach area that the department's recently organized traffic-safety unit is there to help.

Sgt. Robert Kalamaras, who leads the eight-officer unit, spoke to members of the Fairfield Beach Residents' Association at the group's annual meeting Wednesday at Penfield Pavilion.

Kalamaras said the unit's goal is not just enforcement, but also education.

"Some of our biggest complaints in town are speeding and traffic-related offenses," he said, and the beach area "is going to be a focus of ours for the near future," particularly because of the recent death of a bicyclist hit by a pickup traffic in the neighborhood.

Residents said drivers often speed down the roads that run from the beach to the Post Road, adding that many of those speeders are younger drivers and the college students who live in rental properties on Fairfield Beach Road. Suggestions were made not only for enforcement, but also education, perhaps using one of the trailers that carry electric signs to remind motorists of the speed limit.

The neighborhood group spent $15,000 of its own money over the past year to hire a professional traffic engineer to study traffic problems in the area. Proposals based on that study were presented to the Police Commission.

"We actually didn't get the things we all were hoping to do," said FBRA President Paige Herman. Those recommendations included a roundabout at Penfield Pavilion, raised medians at Beach and Reef roads, traffic lines painted on the road's shoulders, crosswalks, sidewalks and more stop signs throughout the area.

The Police Commission did approve shoulder lines to reduce the travel lane width in order provide designated areas for pedestrians and bicyclists in several areas. The panel also approved additional stop signs on Edwards Street and Birch Road.

One neighborhood resident asked Kalamaras what the department's stance is regarding signs or cones put in the street by homeowners, such as the "Children Playing" signs that have become popular.

"It's actually illegal and you can be fined for it," Kalamaras said. "You have to keep the roadway clear."