Police: ‘Block the Box’ in Shelton and be fined $117

The "Blocking the Box" requirements now have completed at several intersections in downtown Shelton, and enforcement will begin, according to Shelton Police Department officials.

Four intersections  have been painted with the anti-gridlock box design:

— 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)

— Center Street and Coram Avenue

In addition, signs that state “Do Not Block Intersection — Subject to Fine” have been posted, making the intersections compliant with the pertinent state statute and local ordinance.

Motorists now should be prepared for police enforcement at these intersections. Violation of the law is an infraction with a $117 fine.

Hope for ‘voluntary compliance’

"The purpose of this law is not only to help with the flow of traffic, but also to allow emergency vehicles to get through the intersections safely,” Shelton Police Chief Joel W. Hurliman said.

“We hope to have voluntary compliance with the law rather than issue tickets," he said.

Hurliman said while he knows that drivers can get frustrated trying to make it through these intersections, having vehicles get stuck in the “box” area can threaten public safety. “If the box gets blocked, then police, fire and ambulances can’t get through,” he said.

The chief said he also hopes the traffic lights at these intersections can be better synchronized to further benefit traffic flow. Howe Avenue, Bridge Street, Center Street and Coram Avenue (toward the Plumb Library only) are all state roads and therefore the red lights are controlled by the state.

Traffic congestion

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.

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

‘Blocking the Box’ state law

Below is a copy of the state law on Blocking the Box”:

Sec. 14-250b. Obstructing intersection. (a) No operator of a motor vehicle, other than a tractor-trailer unit, as defined in section 14-1, shall proceed into an intersection that has been designated, posted and marked by a municipality in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, except when making a turn, unless there is sufficient space on the opposite side of the intersection to accommodate such motor vehicle without obstructing the passage of other vehicles or pedestrians, notwithstanding the indication of a traffic control signal that would permit such operator to proceed into the intersection.

(b) Any municipality may, by ordinance, designate one or more intersections within that municipality to which the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply. The municipality shall, (1) post signs at each such designated intersection indicating that blocking the intersection is prohibited and violators are subject to a fine, and, (2) mark, in white paint, the boundary of such intersection with a line not less than one foot in width and the area within such boundary line with parallel diagonal lines not less than one foot in width.

(c) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall have committed an infraction.