Neighbors Bristle Over Speeding Traffic on Almira Drive

At the spring meeting of the Pemberwick-Glenville Association (PGA), Almira Drive residents voiced concerns about speeding traffic and school bus stop safety.

Almira Drive, which includes a steep hill, is a popular cut-through from Pemberwick, and even Westchester, to Weaver Street’s office parks and Route 1. At the PGA meeting, residents said given the choice of following Pemberwick Rd south to get to Rte 1, drivers opt for the Almira-to-Weaver Street route to avoid the Carvel traffic circle on the state line where gas station queues spill out into the circle.

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In recent years, families with young children have been moving to the Almira Drive neighborhood, which is zoned multi-family. Their children take the bus from the stop at Almira and South Hawthorne to Glenville School.

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View of truck fishtailing on snow on Almira Drive. Photo, Henry Tejada

Almira Drive resident Henry Tejeda, who has a six-year-old and a 1-1/2 year-old, said he is fed up with speeding cars.

“They gun it to get up speed to make it up the hill, especially in the snow, and at the top of the hill where it becomes a straightaway, they’re going really fast,” he said, adding that drifts of snow in winter and piles of leaves in fall make the bus stop walk treacherous.

On the morning of Friday, May 8, as children made their way to the bus stop, streams of cars and trucks, many with New York license plates barreled up Almira’s steep hill and toward the bus stop, most reaching speeds of about 45mph or faster.

Though school bus signs and speed limit signs were posted on Almira a year ago, a group of a half dozen parents waiting at the bus stop on Friday said the situation is as dangerous as ever.

“They play chicken every day,” said Charles Juergens, a father of a kindergartner and first grader at Glenville School and a preschooler, after gingerly walking all three across Almira and toward the bus stop.

There are no sidewalks and residents park along the north side of the street, making it narrow for two cars passing in opposite directions.

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With cars parked along the north side of Almira, it’s a tight squeeze for speeding cars passing in opposite directions, never mind pedestrians. There are no sidewalks. Credit: Leslie Yager

 

Reached by phone, Greenwich senior engineer James Michel explained his hands were tied in terms of installing stop signs.

“We’ve done a study of the area with traffic counters a couple times to obtain traffic data,” he said. “We look for the number of vehicles going in each direction. The volume of cars on Almira does not justify a stop sign in that location,” he said, adding that stop signs cannot be installed just to slow traffic.

Michels referred to the MUTCD, a federal traffic manual for traffic control signs, which he said “dictates requirement for placement of stop signs we call ‘warrants,'” adding, “That manual can have minor modifications by the State that make it more restrictive, but not less,” he said.  In Connecticut there is an added rule that against placing stop signs with the intent of slowing people down.

“The problem with doing that it becomes more dangerous because people don’t expect a stop sign to be placed there and it creates a false sense of security for people traveling there. Or people wind up getting rear-ended, because drivers think of it as a not-warranted stop sign,” Mr. Michel explained.

Reached by phone, Janice Domiziano, who is in charge of school buses at the Board of Education, said a decision was made back in November to move the bus stop onto Almira from side street South Hawthorne, because people on the north side could walk along the edge of the road and wait for the school bus to stop, flash its lights and extend the arm with the stop sign attached. “It serves as a stop sign,” she said.

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On Almira Drive, children board the school bus to Glenville School. Credit: Leslie Yager

Two Close Calls Leave One Mother Anxious
Inez Silva of Rockland Place said her 8-year-old son Diego has nearly been hit twice despite her escorting him to the bus stop on Almira.

“Once by a driver who seemed to be coming to a stop and then accelerated, and once by a driver passing the stopped school bus,” said Ms. Silva. She said the driver passed the stopped school bus despite its flashing lights and Stop sign extended from the side of the bus the car sped by, which she said happens often.

“It was really close. I was crying and shaking the whole day,” she said. “It stayed on my mind all day.”

Mrs. Domiziano at the Board of Education said there had been no report of the incident involving Ms. Silva’s son and encourages parents to note the license plate and make a report if they see a car fail to stop for a stopped school bus. The fine for passing a stopped school bus is $460 for the first offense.

Tom Havelka who lives at 36 Almira said he’d been raking leaves in front of his house and had his back to the street when he was struck by car’s sideview mirror. And, he said, “I am tired of having to dodge cars speeding down the curve when I walk my dog to the park.”

“I bought one of those yellow plastic signs shaped like a person with a red hat and a red flag,” Juergens recalled. “It kept getting hit and dragged down the hill. Finally it got stolen,” he laughed.

Almira Drive neighbors shared copies of a petition to the Board of Selectmen asking for a three-way stop at Almira and South Hawthorne, which included many handwritten comments including this one from 94-year old Theresa Bria of 32 Almira drive who has lived on the street for 61 years. “Hope you can do something to make these beautiful young children safe,” Bria wrote.

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Richard Lambertson of 25 Almira wrote in the margin of his petition, “Will it take death like Pemberwick Road for two-way stops before we get action? In my mind it’s too big a price for action. I mean; how much will a three-way stop cost, or what is a LIFE WORTH?”

Mr. Michel acknowledged that Almira Drive is very narrow and said they are considering eliminating on street parking, but acknowledged that probably not be embraced by residents either.

“We provided a report back to the neighborhood in Dec or January and offered to discuss this with them, but we had not heard back from them up until the recent (PGA) meeting,” Mr. Michel said, adding that he planned to make another visit to Almira Drive during school bus pick-up time.

See also:

Concerns Raised by Pemberwick-Glenville Association: Speeding Cars, Lack of Sidewalks

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  • ScottRAB

    ITE.org has information on traffic calming.
    mini-roundabouts might work well at internal intersections.
    Standard modern roundabouts to replace the traffic circle would make it safer and reduce delays.

  • Melissa Evans

    There is so much more to this story than what was printed – instead of guessing at the speed of the cars why not actually obtain the recorded speed information from the Town? Or actual reported accidents, which can be obtained from the Police Department? Of course that would have proven these few neighbors wrong…

    • Almira Resident

      I agree with Traffic Coordinator, Melissa Evans, there is more to the story. Melissa mentioned reported accidents. Inez Silva, who’s son Diego was almost hit by a car, said she told Melissa Evans of the near accident. Melissa, when Ms. Silva told you about her son almost being hit by a car, did you report what she told you to the town police? Don’t you think it was your moral obligation to report what Ms. Silva told you?

  • Charlie

    I believe the conditions on Almira Drive will eventually kill someone if nothing is done, however, speed is just one part of the problem. When a street has no sidewalks, no crosswalks, is used as a cut through by NY residents and the cars can go in excess of 50 mph, you now have a true recipe for disaster. You have a bus stop with no crosswalks and no sidewalks and elementary school children have to navigate all of this to get on a bus on Almira Drive? There should be stop signs at the corner of Almira Drive and Hawthorne South because there is a bus stop and the children who take the bus on Almira Drive deserve to be safe!

  • Henry

    Almira drive is one of the most challenging location in Greenwich. It has all sort of elements that make it hard to walk and drive through. In its current state its very dangerous for anyone to walk on Almira drive as cars pass you less than 1 feet. Mr. Michel is correct its a narrow street but he failed to mention it does not have sidewalks. Not sure why his department has not done something sooner to control the flow of cars and protect neighborhood residents that WALK on Almira to take their children to the bus stop or WALK them to pemberwick park. Data does not show or prove what is already known by many residents and town officials, to drive in Almira drive is very dangerous due to a steep hill and has many blind spots. Not even town school buses are allowed to drive down the hill as per the bus company.Data does not prove people being hit by cars that use Almira as cut through street to Route 1. Nor does it collect how many people WALK on Almira drive. It’s very disheartening to see other parts of town that get the attention with sidewalks,making streets one way, speed alert signs or stop signs but Almira residence are being deprived of such. Also sad to see parents WALKING their children on strollers and dodging cars down the hill. After several petitions it feels like some town officials are working for the cars rather than the safety of current and future Greenwich generation. I guess they are awaiting a fatality to do something about an already known dangerous situation.