Dangerous Route 7 intersection sparks petition
Claiming Ashbee Lane’s intersection with Route 7 is the most dangerous meeting of two roads anywhere in Ridgefield, residents from that neighborhood are petitioning the town and state to address the situation.
“Do you see the car traveling 55 mph heading southbound on Rt. 7 as you are making a left hand turn? No, you can’t, because there is a dip and a raised roadbed blocking your view,” James Russell of Richardson Drive wrote to the First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
“Now imagine three to four feet winter snow plowed high along this grassy knoll, further blocking your view.”
Russell signed the letter as coordinator of a neighborhood petition from 30 residents of Ashbee Lane, Richardson Drive and Kingswood Place.
The neighbors have proposed a solution.
“We have gathered signatures from our neighborhood from the Ridgefield people who drive and use this intersection at least twice a day, including a US postal carrier,” Russell wrote. “They all agree: Rt. 7 has to be re-graded to improve the line-of-sight looking north, as there is a dip and a slight hill which hides oncoming vehicles headed southbound.
“We will present this petition to the state of Connecticut Department of Transportation, asking them to improve the line-of-sight,” he wrote to Marconi. “We request your support, and whatever help you can offer to make this possible. The matter is urgent.”
Marconi brought the matter up at the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 4 meeting.
“They want to shave down the road. I said it might be better if they raised Ashbee a little bit,” Marconi told the board.
“The state is going to say it’s the town’s problem,” he added.
Marconi told the board he’d ask Police Chief Jeff Kreitz to collaborate on a study of the problem, and the potential cost of fixing it.
“I’ll get some numbers,” Marconi said. “...See if it’s realistic to do anything.”
“There could be other roads in town that are similar,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark.
“There are roads — Maureen, you are exactly correct — all through town,” Marconi said.
The neighborhood petition addressed to the state says, in part:
“We the undersigned formally request the state of Connecticut Department of Transportation do an urgent safety investigation and make improvements at the intersection of Rt. 7 and Ashbee Lane in Ridgefield, CT, in order to improve sight-lines (looking north on Rt. 7).
“The problem: The north-looking view of approaching southbound Rt. 7 traffic is impeded by a dip/incline on Rt. 7, which hides vehicles until it is too late. Further, a small grassy hill of Ashbee Lane impedes this view, blocking it entirely in winter with snow-plow accumulation.”
To the state, Russell and the petitioners propose two potential solutions:
“1. Re-grade Rt. 7 to remove the dip/incline to the immediate north of Ashbee Lane (possibly also re-grade and lift end of Ashbee Lane) in order to vastly improve traffic sight-lines when looking north.
“2. Remove/cut back the 30’x 4’ grassy knoll to the left of Ashbee Lane; paving it would make a safer, right-hand turn lane onto Ashbee, preventing rear-end collisions from fast moving southbound traffic.
“By doing the above,” Russell told the state, “you will greatly increase the safety for our neighborhood and the 28,000 cars and trucks traveling daily on the Rt. 7 corridor.”
In his letter to the town, Russell described a crash that took place Aug. 29 at the intersection.
“...a northbound vehicle making a left turn on to Ashbee was ‘T-boned-crashed’ into by a vehicle traveling south on Rt. 7. It was 2:30 p.m., and the slow northbound Rt. 7 traffic was stopped bumper-to-bumper — as it usually is in rush hour — and the southbound lanes were clear and traveling very fast,” Russell wrote.
“This is the accident I never want to happen again,” he said. “No one was injured — this time. Let’s not wait for the next tragic accident: Tell the Connecticut Department of Transportation we’ve had enough!”