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'I Don't Think They Care About Us'

Neighbors who would be affected by a roundabout proposed at the intersection of routes 110 and 111 were invited to a public information meeting Tuesday night, but no officials showed up.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is proposing to construct a of routes 110 and 111 as a way to slow traffic, but keep it going in a steady flow. All with no left turns allowed. That poses a problem for residents living in the Hurd Avenue neighborhood, who would no longer be allowed to turn left while going home via Shelton Road (Route 110).

On June 19, Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein sent a letter inviting residents of Hurd Avenue, Lois Circle, Ruth Street, Jeannette Street, Stillmeadow Circle and Shelton Road to a "preliminary design information meeting" to be held on Tuesday night in the Council Chambers of Monroe Town Hall.

"Abutting property owners and/or other interested individuals are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the proposed plans and provide some early input regarding the treatment of Hurd Avenue," wrote Schatzlein, who is also the town land use director.

But the 22 residents who showed up for the meeting Tuesday were greeted by a darkened room. No officials from the town nor the DOT showed up at all.

"I don't think they care about us," Andrew Amalfitano of Hurd Avenue complained.

"Not at all," another man added.

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David "Rocky" Davin, a Highway Department crew leader who lives near the proposed road project, made phone calls to find out what happened, then told the crowd that the town engineer was not ready for the meeting, extended his apologies and would reschedule it.

"Can you ask him why he didn't come in person to apologize," one woman asked angrily.

"I think it's pretty wrong," Donna Colaiacoma of Lois Circle said. "They're the one's who made the date. You feel like they don't care." 

Rather than going home, the neighbors decided to hold a meeting of their own.

History & Concerns

Amalfitano, a Hurd Avenue resident of 56 years, recalled how it used to be a dirt road with Hurd Airport. When Ben Hurd decided to sell all of his lots, the adjoining streets were named after his daughters, including Ruth Street, Lois Circle and Jeannette Street, according to Amalfitano.

Amalfitano said that Ben Hurd took his plane out on a trip with his son and a friend, but that all of them died tragically in a plane crash in upstate Connecticut.

The Hurd and Whitney families both owned large portions of land from Moose Hill Road to Whitney Farms Golf Course, according to Amalfitano.

Some of the current residents attending Tuesday night's meeting expressed concerns over how a roundabout would affect school buses and emergency vehicles. But most agreed that something should be done to improve safety there.

John Brooks of Lois Circle shared stories of other drivers blaring their horns at him as he slowed down on Route 110 to turn onto Hurd Avenue going home. Others complained about safety hazards of backing out of driveways on Route 111.

Colaiacoma talked about drivers speeding on Monroe Turnpike (Route 111).

"They come flying down that hill from St. Jude," she said. "They need a light."

Of the DOT's interest in improving the intersection, Brooks said, "I'm for it if they can come up with a way that doesn't impact the property owners there. Maybe make it a real intersection with a light and get rid of that ridiculous island."

Dot Lenart, a Hurd Avenue resident since 1951, said, "Know what the problem is? The elders in the town, they don't want change. I'm an elder, but I know we have to change. They don't want that green touched."

One thing that concerns Lenart is how a roundabout could impact the trucks coming out of the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department on Route 110.

Gerald M. Gaynor August 01, 2012 at 10:46 AM
If I was one of the "geniuses" from DOT who proposed a roundabout at the intersection of two busy state highways, I would have looked for a way to duck the meeting as well. Even the most casual observer of Connecticut drivers would conclude that they don’t do well with roundabouts. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the mess we will see when an eighteen wheeler enters the roundabout and is suddenly confronted with someone edging into the circle in a panic. One has to wonder why the state “engineers" and “traffic flow consultants” rejected the idea of a T intersection with a traffic light. This overlooked notion would have managed traffic during peak hours and also served to slow traffic as it moved into and out of the commercial section of 111. No doubt the same crack crew that held up traffic on Route 25 for months to slightly lower the road and maintain two lanes contributed to the “solution”…
Rt25 August 01, 2012 at 12:04 PM
How more rude can you be, Mr. Town Engineer and Land Use Director. And, what kind of disciplinary action are you going to take against your administrator, Mr. Vavrek?
Geezer August 01, 2012 at 12:44 PM
seems to me that the traffic flow change ( and impact during construction ) will affect everyone who travels along this area of 110 and 111 not just those invited to the meeting - article title says it all
Karen G. French August 01, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Why does this surprise anyone? This town administration operates by it's own rules and citizens be damned. I've lived across the street from an abandoned house for over 5 years, still nothing. Roads suck. Still our taxes continue to increase while paying an apprentice $60 bucks an hour to oversee the town hall upgrades!!! Remember all this in November when you ALL SHOULD VOTE!!!!
Greg Bruno August 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM
We don't need another light on 111.It already takes 15 minutes to get from Monroe Center to the 25 /111 intersection.
Karen G. French August 01, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Still waiting since 2009 for the repairs promised by Mr. Baker (no longer dept head) to my driveway the town plow truck damaged too!
Mitch Beck August 01, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Mr. Gaynor... I went to the first meeting that they had about this & entered it much like you, very much against this project for a LARGE number of reasons. But, I listened to what they had to say & read over the information they provided & asked some very tough questions...as did many others...I left in full support of doing this project. I don't know if you were there or not, & I'm going by the assumption that you weren't, but the State guys who were there answered all of the questions put to them without any filter, or quite frankly any BS. They demonstrated evidence as to why a T intersection won't work nearly as well as a roundabout. One of the key factors is the number of accidents...MUCH higher for T intersections as opposed to roundabouts. In fact there was almost no difference between what is there now. Another key factor (and exceptionally important concern for me) was who would have to pay for its construction & maintenance. The town would NOT pay for the roundabout, the state & feds would, but if we went with a T, we would. I am going by memory here & I might be wrong, but if memory serves, I believe the cost to Monroe taxpayers was in the neighborhood of $1.5M (that might be low) versus free for a roundabout. Just something to think about. As for their not showing up...that was REALLY rude & disrespectful. I wouldn't go so far as some who took it personally & say, "they don't care about us..." I don't think it was personal...just HIGHLY unprofessional.
Robert Martin August 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM
For years the master plan included making that a 4 way intersection with a light. You would cross directly from route 110 to Lord Road and continue over to Church street. When the developments and St Jude's church were approved the right of ways set aside were adequate to allow this would be done. The reasons for this was a 4 way intersection would be much safer, through traffic would not have to drive through the town green to get to Church street and while it would take a small corner of fireman's field it would dramatically improve traffic flow. A circle there is a terrible idea and probably take far more space. Who is preventing the 4 way intersection from being considered, St. Judes Church? Bob Martin
Alex August 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Sadly you'll be waiting awhile. Plow knocked down my mailbox during the bad 2010-2011 winter and cut a large chunk out of my front lawn abutting the street. I guess I attributed the mess to the amount of snow on the ground and that its hard for plows to know where the road ends and your lawn starts...
jim laguardia August 01, 2012 at 02:01 PM
how sad that no officials showed up, might i suggest that if the round about does go through and get built they erect some sort of statue in the middle of it in honor of the officials who do not seem to care.... maybbe just the rear end of some horses??
jim laguardia August 01, 2012 at 02:04 PM
we waited a year for the town to replace the mailbox (they seemed to take out about 25% of the boxes on our road that year) that they came and filled out paper work and said our box was within specs and they would replace it.... needless to say i replaced it on my own last year
PlumbBob August 01, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I don't care if a traffic circle would be free to the town, it just isn't needed here. Was there sufficient evidence that this intersection is any more dangerous than others in town? More so than most major intersections? Why is this being proposed for this location instead of others? I wish I had known about the previous meeting because I have some concerns I would like to have brought up. What effects will a traffic circle have on vehicles traveling up or downhill in slippery/snowy/icy roads have? I see some potential problems here. A straight road, as we have now, would not pose as much of a problem and vehicle momentum could be maintained. There would be no need to steer around a circle, potential causing a vehicle to swerve and loose control on a slippery grade. Would the circle be built with a grade to it or would the surrounding area be graded level first to prevent this? That's a lot of fill if so. Regardless of what the presentations may suggest traffic circles are foreign and unfamiliar to most drivers and I see this as a big distraction while navigating one. I'd rather know oncoming traffic has to stop or that I am responsible to stop then enter when clear. That's what we are all taught while taking or drivers test. I don't like the fact that anytime one enters a traffic circle they are putting the drivers side of their vehicle towards oncoming traffic. If an accident were to occur, a traffic circle would always place the driver at a higher risk of being injured.
Alex August 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I ended up fixing mine too Jim (Can only have a 5 gal bucket mailbox for so long before it looks bad to the neighbors). I added a foot tall and wide concrete and steel bracket base around the mailbox now though. The plow will be in for a rude awakening if they hit it this time around :).
JoAnn Toth August 01, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Look....... just put a freekin traffic light there! I am SO sick and tired of slamming on my breaks because some idiot chooses to toy with my life and fly out in front of me when there is no one behind me till next Tuesday! So much time wasted in disgussing it and nothing being done to solve it. Typical....... sickningly typical. Let's just keep score of the accidents at that intersection. That should be lots of fun, huh?
QWERTY August 01, 2012 at 05:18 PM
No wonder why this state, after raising taxes, is still in debt. $5 mill (?) to put a round-about in Monroe?! How about expanding the lanes on rt. 111 first?
chumbadumba August 01, 2012 at 05:25 PM
No more lights!! Losers.
Lani August 01, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Please remember that they are not proposing the old fashioned type of traffic circle but the new modern ones. They function quite well, have two full lanes and are very easy to use as a driver. I have driven them in Massachusetts many times, in far larger city areas than here. No issues.
Tman August 01, 2012 at 11:14 PM
should also put a light at Monroe El. it is a nightmare trying to take a left out of the school
Bill Bittar (Editor) August 02, 2012 at 01:53 AM
For anyone who only saw this story, the town apologized this morning: http://patch.com/A-w8pZ
Chief Waldo August 02, 2012 at 02:02 AM
They could solve the problem with paint and relocated signs. It's real simple: All traffic heading from Route 110 to 111 could go to the north side of the island. What are now two way traffic lanes, would become right and left turn lanes. All traffic from Route 111 onto 110 could go to the south side of the island. What is now a separate, two way traffic pattern would become the turn lanes from north and south bound 111 onto 110. New line paint, and relocate one stop sign. Done deal, with MANY tax dollars saved.
kay inderdohnen August 02, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I travel through the intersection of 110 and 111 every day, some days many times. I use courtesy and a little patience,and take the time to look both ways carefully,and mission accomplished. I see a problem with a traffic light in winter weather. Drivers headed north on 111, stopping at a red light, would have difficulty trying to accelerate uphill once the light is green. Drivers headed south might have difficulty stopping at a red light when the road is slippery. How about we tell the State that we want to make our own decisions about our own town, thank you very much!
Wolfe August 03, 2012 at 10:28 PM
What about getting an ambulance down onto Rte. 110 or from say Masuk to a hospital? Then there are the fire engines. If my house were on fire, would I want the BEST fire trucks that we have stalled in a traffic circle? NO!!! I would want that ambulance and that fire truck to get to me as quickly as possible!! And a traffic circle will NOT allow that.
Steve Kirsch August 04, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Roundabout in action (live): http://www.ourston.com/resources/webcams/halifax.html

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