Shelton police stepping up ‘Don’t Block the Box’ enforcement

Shelton police officers are expected to begin stepping up enforcement of Don’t Block the Box violations at downtown intersections.

“We’re going to make a push for that now that vacation season is over and schools are open,” Police Chief Joel Hurliman told a Board of Aldermen committee earlier this week.

Hurliman said enforcement activities are likely to center mostly on the two intersections —  Howe Avenue and Center Street, and Howe Avenue and White Street — where there appears to be the most violations. “We’ll concentrate on them,” he said.

In effect at four intersections

This summer, the Don’t Block the Box painted traffic grids were put in at four downtown intersections — with the other two being Howe Avenue and Bridge Street, and Center Street and Coram Avenue.

The city also installed “Do Not Block Intersection: Subject to Fine” signs at the four intersections.

The white-colored painted grids and accompanying signs are intended to lessen gridlock in the central business district, which can be particularly bad during weekday evening commutes and during the day on Saturdays.

They were put in after the city passed a local ordinance to comply with the state’s Don’t Block the Box law, which allows for the issuing of fines. The fine for blocking one of the Don’t Block the Box intersections in Shelton is $117, as allowed by state law.

Fines will bring ‘common sense’

Alderman Eric McPherson said he thinks once officers begin handing out tickets to violators, fewer people will find themselves stuck in the intersections.

“When people realize they will get nailed for $117, common sense will come into play,” McPherson said.

Hurliman said increased enforcement will involve having at least two officers at an intersection to be effective.

Emergency access and congestion

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.

The 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.

A main purpose is to ensure the intersections aren’t blocked in case emergency access is needed by police, fire or EMS vehicles, Hurliman stressed.