At its Oct. 28 meeting, the Derby Public Schools Board of Education got a first look at an agreement with the city to develop a new traffic signal at Derby High School.
With the goal of decreasing congestion and accident risk during drop-off and pickup hours, the signal would be placed at Rock Road and Pinion Road – about halfway between James Street and Madison Avenue.
The existing signal just north of that intersection would be removed.
The main goal of the project, Squires said, is to create a more efficient entry to the high school off Rock Road, which he hopes will help reduce traffic around James and Madison.
“While [the high school] was originally constructed with a nice access point to Rock Road, that access point is not very efficient – not very constructive,” Squires said. “It’s just hard to get in. There are not enough gaps in traffic on Rock Road to allow people to make left turns into that entrance point.”
“The result of that is that turns are prohibited, so during the morning and afternoon peaks, left turns into the site are prohibited.”
As the school is laid out now, Squires said the vast majority of drivers at DHS are entering through James or Madison, rather than Rock, which causes traffic to back up at both spots.
Part of the district’s end of the deal is improving the perimeter road at the high school so it connects directly to Rock Road from the parking lot near Madison. Right now, the perimeter does not have a direct path to Rock Road from that lot, meaning exiting drivers have to loop back around to Rock or find an exit elsewhere. A connecting drive will be added as part of phase 2 of bond projects at Derby High School.
Those improvements also include renovations for the road leading onto Rock Road from the school, such as additional turning lanes.
A crosswalk will also be added just north of the Rock and Pinion intersection.
Board members were mostly pleased by the proposed traffic signal.
“Looks great, and I’m sure that’ll help things quite a bit,” Board Member Matthew Joyce said. “The school ought to do their part about communicating to make sure people start using that as more of the main entrance and exit.”
Board Member Matt Hoag suggested that a school zone be added to a portion of Pinion from Ridgecrest to Rock. That road leads toward Tanglewood Elementary School.
“I’m just thinking that is going to get crazy busy with this change,” Hoag said.
“[A school zone is] something we can certainly look into,” Squires said. “There’s not a lot of advantage to an increase in traffic on Pinion.”
The Derby City Council approved their part of the agreement in October, which includes covering 80 percent of the project’s $250,000 price tag. As part of the agreement, the district is only responsible for 20 percent – or $50,000.
Speaking at the board’s meeting, Dan Squires, the city’s director of planning and engineering, said he had faith in the project’s design, which was created through a $32,000 contract with TranSystems.
Once in place, Squires said the new signal should redirect about 70% of DHS traffic to the intersection at Pinion and Rock.
The school board will vote at its Nov. 11 meeting whether to approve the agreement with the city.
Squires said the city hopes to complete the project in time for the beginning of the school year in August 2020.