Traffic island proposed to improve safety at Fairfield intersection
FAIRFIELD — There have been 68 accidents in just five years at the intersection where Black Rock Turnpike meets Jennings Road.
It’s not a typical four-way intersection. To continue south on Black Rock Turnpike, drivers must make a slight left, and a small island separates those making a right onto Jennings Road, though there isn’t a right-turn lane. But southbound motorists trying to make a left onto Jennings are most at risk.
Thirty-nine of those accidents involved a southbound car making that left turn, and 11 of them involved injuries.
“Our accident investigators brought it to our attention that they were investigating several accidents involving injuries at that intersection,” police department spokesman Lt. Robert Kalamaras said. “When we looked at the statistics, we found overwhelming evidence that there was possibly an engineering issue that needed to be looked at.”
The fix being proposed is a new island, this time on Jennings Road. Vehicles making a left onto Jennings from Black Rock would be required to stay to the right of the island — improving the line of the sight, and making it more of a true left turn. It would also slow down the velocity of the cars, according to police.
“The statistics showed that many of the collisions were involving the same conflict between two vehicles,” Kalamaras said. “While driver error is ultimately the root cause, sometimes sight lines are contributing factors in accidents.”
William Hurley, the town’s engineering manager, agreed the proposed island should help, even though sight-line issues will remain.
The improvement, he said, is the island reduces the diagonal left turns of southbound traffic and bypass maneuvers of northbound traffic. Hurley said it will also provide traffic calming measures by reducing speed through the intersection as a way to reduce accidents.
While Black Rock Turpike is a state road — Route 58 — Kalamaras said the department does not need to get state approval for the change because the new island will be built on Jennings Road. However, he said, the Police Commission, which supports the recommendation, has asked that the proposal be reviewed by the state Department of Transportation.