Fire officials worry about accidents at Route 110 intersection

The Shelton Fire Department likely will need more than the $8,000 previously allocated to improve firetruck safety at the intersection of Route 110 and Maple Avenue, near the White Hills Shopping Center.

That is because an engineering study will need to be done as part of an effort to prevent accidents at the four-way intersection, close to the White Hills Volunteer Fire Company firehouse on School Street.

Sight lines can be a problem at the intersection, and road improvements made a few years ago have not completely solved the issue. “They’re still not good enough,” Shelton Fire Chief Fran Jones said of the sight lines, speaking at a Board of Aldermen committee meeting.

A firetruck was involved in an accident with a car at the intersection in 2011. “We’ve had a lot of close calls — they occur just about every day,” Jones said during an interview.

The White Hills fire station is a quarter of a mile away, off East Village Road, and firetrucks frequently must go through the intersection to answer calls. Route 110 also is called Leavenworth Road in this area.

‘Pre-emption’ system

The department would like to get a “pre-emption” system, which means the firetruck could control the traffic light so it turns green as the truck approaches and goes through the intersection when responding to an emergency call. The traffic signal in the other three directions would be red.

Now, if the light is red for a firetruck as it approaches, the firetruck must stop at the intersection and conduct “due diligence” before proceeding, Jones said. A pre-emption system would be “safer,” he said.

May lead to more needed work

The engineering study might cost from $3,000 to $4,500, Jones said, and the pre-emption system might cost slightly more than anticipated.

If the intersection should need to be redesigned based on the results of the study, that could involve an added expense for the city. Jones said it was important to “forewarn” city officials that the engineering study may lead to more recommended work.

“That intersection is a bigger problem than just putting pre-emption on it,” Jones said. “We may need to make other improvements.”

The engineering study is required if any changes are to be made at the intersection.

Aldermanic reaction

Alderman John P. Papa, Public Health and Safety Committee chairman, said fire officials should provide information on all needed improvements at intersections so they can be presented to Mayor Mark Lauretti.

Papa said the mayor then could be told, “We’re looking for some help.”

In response, Jones said, “This one is probably the most urgent at the time.”

Alderman Jack Finn said some of the previous road improvement work done at the Route 110/Maple Avenue intersection appear to have made the sight line problems worse by changing road elevations.

Finn suggested that Jones proceed with the engineering study and then, based on the findings, the Board of Aldermen could provide more funds if needed.