Northwestern redirects traffic

WINSTED — Hoping to create a safer intersection for student and adult drivers alike, Northwestern Regional High School has altered the traffic pattern along Battistoni Drive to eliminate left turns at the end of the school’s driveway.

The change, which includes new signage and repainted traffic lines at the site, officially took effect on Wednesday.

The decision to only allow right turns from Battistoni Drive came after several accidents occurred at the intersection of Route 44 and West Hill Extension, according to Region 7 Superintendent Clinton Montgomery.

West Hill Extension is the short road across from West Hill Road that connects Route 44 to Old New Hartford Road.

Montgomery said the intersection is confusing, and drivers sometimes rush across traffic, resulting in frequent near misses.

In addition, motorists have had some close calls at the intersection of Old North Road and Route 44, a little farther down Old New Hartford Road, he said. Neither of the problem intersections has a traffic light.

“Left-hand turns are a big problem these days,� Montgomery said, referring to the continued increased traffic flow in the area over the last several years.

And so, school officials requested a meeting with the state Department of Transportation — as well as Barkhamsted town officials and the state police — to find a way to make the intersection a safer one.

Through the meeting, Montgomery said, a collective decision was made to alter the exit from Battistoni Drive so that all traffic would only be allowed to turn right out of the school. East-bound traffic will be required to travel to the end of Old New Hartford Road and take a left at the light onto Route 44.

The transportation department has changed the timing of the stoplight at that intersection, extending the green light to provide more time for buses and cars to exit at the end of the school day.

Although school officials are aware that the change will result in an inconvenience for some parents and students, Montgomery said, the district’s main concern is the safety of students and staff members who must “try to negotiate these left turns as traffic moves faster and heavier along Route 44.�

Montgomery added, however, that for those who live in the immediate area and need to travel east on Old Hartford Road, the district is considering the possibility of making a limited number of “passes� available to permit left turns out of Battistoni.

The passes would be issued on a case-by-base basis, he said.

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