Painted boxes designed to fight downtown Shelton gridlock

Anti-gridlock boxes have been painted into the asphalt surfaces of four main intersections in downtown Shelton, where traffic frequently backs up.

The white-colored boxes are designed to get drivers not to enter the intersection at times of congestion unless they are certain they can make it to the other side before the light turns red.

The intersections with the anti-gridlock boxes are Howe Avenue and Center Street, Howe Avenue and Bridge Street, Howe Avenue and White Street (near the Webster Bank and Marks of Design jewelry store), and Center Street and Coram Avenue.

The intersections are at state-controlled roads (Howe Avenue is Route 110, Center Street is Route 714, Bridge Street is Route 712, and Coram Avenue west of Center Street — or toward the Plumb Memorial Library — is Route 108).

The anti-gridlock boxes were put in at the same time Center Street and much of Bridgeport Avenue are being repaved by the state. The repaving will require new striping of lanes and crosswalks on Center Street in downtown.

‘Don’t Block the Box’ fines

Anti-gridlock boxes are used as traffic-controlling measures to try to prevent excessive congestion, when vehicles begin to block intersections out of drivers' frustration to try to get to the other side.

They often are implemented with stepped-up enforcement, including fines for motorists whose cars become stuck inside the box.

A common expression used by law enforcement to try to get people to avoid blocking intersections is, “Don’t Block the Box."

Downtown traffic congestion

Shelton Police Chief Joel Hurliman has mentioned in the past that the anti-gridlock boxes would be installed at some downtown intersections to try to improve traffic flow.

Traffic in the downtown area can become particularly bad during the afternoon commute, from about 3:30 to 7 p.m., leading to blocked intersections and frustrated drivers. Most of the congestion is on Howe Avenue and Center Street, in the Bridge Street and Coram Avenue areas.

Mayor Mark Lauretti has said while certainly frustrating for drivers at times, the congestion also can be viewed as a sign that people want to live, work, shop, dine and pursue other leisure activities in Shelton.