Harwinton to crack down on speeders

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Copyright 2006 Republican-American

HARWINTON -- A slew of resident complaints about speeding traffic on local and state roads here has town leaders on a mission to find a way to slow drivers down.

First Selectman Frank J. Chiaramonte said Tuesday that the Board of Selectmen, which acts as the town's traffic authority, will research methods to achieve the goal.

"More than anything, I get complaints about speeding -- on Route 4, Route 222, Harmony Hill Road and Wildcat Hill Road -- all over town," Chiaramonte said.

The decision to take action comes after the state earlier this year refused to reduce the 30 mph and 40 mph speed limits on Route 4 through Harwinton's center, Chiaramonte said.

"Without the state's help, we have to think of other ways to do this," he said.

So far, Chiaramonte said, the town has asked state police to station several troopers, in addition to the town's two resident troopers, along various sites in town twice a month.

Last month, during the first of what Chiaramonte said he hopes will be continuing speed traps, 37 speeders were ticketed during one day, he said. The drivers stopped were mostly commuters passing through town on Route 4, not residents, he said. Route 4 runs through Litchfield County into Hartford. The highway is curvy and hilly through Harwinton, but the terrain doesn't deter speeding drivers.

Chiaramonte said the town this week is taking out ads in local newspapers to try to attract part-time constables who would work when the town needs them, such as during rush-hour or large events, like the Harwinton Fair.

The constables would be mainly responsible for ticketing drivers.

Chiaramonte said $30,000 has been in the budget for several years for constables for this purpose, but no one has ever filled the job.

"Still, we can't patrol all the time. At this point, it's treacherous," Chiaramonte said.

"We've got all these big trucks coming through town. ... I'd hate to have an incident like the Avon Mountain crash here," he said.

In July 2005, an out-of-control dump truck hurtled down Avon Mountain on Route 44 Avon, another major commuter route, killing four drivers and injuring 13 others.

Chiaramonte said selectmen are considering requesting from the state increased the amount of signs along Route 4 to alert drivers slow down when they're approaching Harwinton's center.
Chiaramonte also said crosswalks at the Route 4-South Road and the Route 4-Harmony Hill Road intersections will be considered.

"If you go up even to Hartland, they have a big sign telling drivers to slow down at their center," he said. "We don't even have that."