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Article Published July 27, 2021

Town Officials to Address Traffic Safety Issues in Chester

By Elizabeth Reinhart/

A resident of Chester has brought to the attention of town officials the issue of pedestrian safety at a site in town where a sidewalk ends, on a curve across from Jennings Pond on West Main Street.

“Pedestrians are forced to use the wider section of berm across the road and cross a blind curve to reach, or leave, the sidewalk on the other side of this busy state road,” said Kenneth Younkin of West Main Street, in a letter to town officials.

Younkin said that he has observed several “close calls” for motor vehicle accidents during which a vehicle is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross.

Younkin has asked town officials to make a request to the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) for a painted pedestrian walkway and to install a pedestrian sign with a flashing yellow beacon at the end of the sidewalk on West Main Street.

Younkin’s request, and several other traffic issues, were discussed at the town’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting on July 14.

Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister reiterated Younkin’s concerns related to pedestrian safety on West Main Street.

“There is not enough room to walk where the guardrail is on the south side of the road and if they cross the road there on the curb, depending on which way the traffic is coming, they may or may not be seen,” she said.

Any request for safety improvements at the site would need to go through the DOT, since it is a state road.

“I don’t know what the DOT would or would not be willing to do,” said Gister. “I do know that when they talk about putting signage or signals on a state road, it ends up going to the [DOT] Engineering Department at Newington and that can be a long process.”

Gister said that she has spoken to Chester’s resident state trooper and that they plan to discuss the suggested safety measures with officials in the DOT’s Haddam office before sending a formal evaluation to the DOT’s engineering office in Newington.

Other traffic safety issues in town are related to speeding, running stop signs on Cedar Lake Road, and increased traffic on Railroad Avenue.

“We always have bigger problems with traffic and traffic safety in the summer because of the lake, because of people coming in from out of town on vacation, the state forest, etcetera,” said Gister. “But we have some specific areas that we’ve had a lot of complaints about, that we have a lot of public concern about.”

To address concerns related to speeding, Gister said that the town’s police services will be taking action.

“They are moving the ‘your speed is’ signs around. They are stepping up just traffic patrols and speed traps and things like that, as much to make people aware and just notice, as to give tickets,” said Gister.

“I mean the whole point is not to give tickets. The point is to get people to slow down,” she continued.

Cedar Lake Road will be a particular focus, with increased signage and more of a police presence, in addition to the installation of removable rubber speed bumps.

Railroad Avenue is another area in need of attention, according to Gister, especially with the opening of a new restaurant at Chester Point Marina in June.

“The residents on Railroad Avenue are very concerned about what they perceive, nobody has done a traffic count, what they perceive to be more traffic because of the restaurant,” said Gister. “I assume there is more traffic because obviously there are more people using the end of the road.”

Parking is one of the more pressing issues at this location.

“When the restaurant parking gets full, people are parking wherever they want including at the turnaround, at the public seating area…the marina,” said Gister. “The police have been called several times. I’m trying to work on that with our police officers and also our fire marshal and zoning.”

Railroad Avenue is listed as one of the top 10 roads for motor vehicle crashes in Chester, according to the University of Connecticut’s Crash Data Repository from Jan. 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021.