Norwalk ‘lucky’ falling traffic lights didn’t hurt anyone

Traffic lights lay in the road at the intersection of Wall and Main Streets Saturday in Norwalk.

This story was updated Monday night with a comment from the Norwalk Police.

NORWALK, Conn. – Traffic lights rained down on Wall Street on Saturday evening when a traffic light pole collapsed, NancyOnNorwalk readers say.

A fallen light pole shows obvious signs of rust Saturday in Norwalk.

NoN got photographs from two readers. One shows a light pole that appears to be rusted at the bottom. The other captures a scene of chaos, with at least eight traffic lights lying in the intersection of Wall and Main Street. The photo was taken at 8:33 p.m. The reader said he had spoken to the police on scene, who told him the light pole simply collapsed.


Norwalk Police Sgt. Terry Blake confirmed that account.

“An officer in the area investigating a motor vehicle accident heard a crash and then located the pole down,” Blake said Monday afternoon. “It appeared to have fallen over, based on the officer’s report.  The report indicates that the traffic lights at the intersection of Wall/Main were the only ones downed.”

Neither Mayor Harry Rilling nor Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord answered Sunday emails on the topic. Rilling has been on vacation.

Traffic light signals weigh up to 28 pounds each, according to ask.com.

“We are lucky that no one was injured in the traffic light pole collapse at Wall & Main Street over the weekend,” said Norwalk Center Task Force Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield in an email. “The visible rust on light poles, and traffic signal poles along Main Street suggest that there is a serious issue in the area, which I hope to work with DPW and the Mayor’s office to address immediately. With the recent explosion on Main St, visible cracks along the Wall Street bridge sidewalk and now this, the safety of area residents and businesses is at stake. While it is premature to outline what actions need to happen next, at minimum an engineering assessment of all poles of the same vintage should take place asap.”

She said he wasn’t positive that an accident had not precipitated the event. “You can see dents on the other poles so I know they do get hit,” she wrote. “This one was taken away before I got back to Norwalk. I don’t think there was any report of an immediate impact prior to the pole going down.”

A source said there have been complaints about rusting poles on Main Street for years.

“Luckily no one was under this light when it collapsed but it could have easily killed or injured anyone unlucky enough to have been under it, in a car, on foot, or on a bicycle,” said Bike/Walk Task Force co-Chairman Mike Mushak. “The city dodged a bullet on this one.”

It’s part of a pattern of neglect, he said, adding a more pithy comment.

“It was one of the most effective traffic calming measures the Department of Public Works has ever come up with,” Mushak said. “They finally came up with a solution using existing infrastructure. It was brilliant, a brilliant traffic calming measure – it totally stopped traffic.”


35 responses to “Norwalk ‘lucky’ falling traffic lights didn’t hurt anyone”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Were the fiber optic lines and the fancy new traffic cams affected too?

  2. TLaw

    It’ll be a great opportunity for Mayor Rilling to pose for photos when they replace the lights!

  3. Suzanne

    Seriously, this could have been a disaster that badly hurt people. That it did not, well, Norwalk just received a stroke of luck. A rusted pole? Or? If it had received impact before from an accident, would not it have been inspected for damage? If not, why not? Is there no schedule for checking this part of infrastructure either in the Town of Norwalk? No check list of the endless variables that are part of DPW or….? And no schedule with which to review what needs to be done? If this existed, then perhaps Mr. Alvord could get an applied budget to real time tasks instead of worrying about the documents tracking software that is used as an excuse time and again for oversights. If this was not a DPW responsibility, whose is it? Could not DPW have a protocol in place for contacting the entity that is responsible? This is sad, potentially catastrophic and so reminiscent of the Norwalk bridge. Infrastructure is melting all over and, just like the proverbial needed stop sign at a dangerous intersection, I guess the City will have to wait for a fatality before anything constructive is done – after the fact.

  4. Ken

    We spend way too much money on areas of this city and people of this city which contribute zip to it. While we see Bob Duff and the Mayor and other big shots bragging about wasting millions of tax dollars improving and expanding the projects on Water street because it gets votes, we don’t see them often addressing things which effect the TAXPAYING population of this city. Its time we stopped focusing on housing projects and attracting people who need help and focusing on what those who pay to live here need. We obviously cannot afford both. Needing to apply for a grant should be shameful, instead they brag about it, as if a grant to build new ghettos will improve the quality of life foe the city in general. Wouldn’t it be better to reduce state taxes and take care of the parts of the city that actually contribute to it being a safe quality place to live? The sad fact is neither the state or the city cares much about taxpayers, they care about LOOKING good, and if their lack of focus causes issues thats our problem. Their answer will be they NEED MORE money, instead of admitting that the decades long liberal wasteful policies they defend so much are too big a burden for the taxpayers to bear. We have plenty of funding, we just need better people involved to see it goes to the right place. $30,000,000 going to a housing project is NOT the right place, especially if we have traffic lights collapsing. Itys time to get our priorities straight. Taxes pay for governmental operations, people support themselves. If you cannot make it here leave, thats what many productive citizens do because of taxes driven up by non productive people sucking up money living in projects. We need to ask ourselves WHO we want to stay here, taxpayers or those living off of tax dollars. Until we answer that question things will continue to degrade while elected and appointed officials collect big checks and pose with each other in front of future centers of violent criminal activity.

  5. Taxpayer Fatigue

    I can’t wait to hear the cya explanation for this from DPW….should be highly entertaining!

  6. Mike Mushak

    Ken, here’s a simpler solution. Look at where our DPW spends its precious resources. We have a new traffic light, total cost about $300,000, at Fort Point and Van Zant Street. There was a 3 way stop before, that worked just fine with little backup or complaints, and was safer for cars and pedestrians. Now you have to wait for the light, creating more backups and adding pollution and wasting fuel, and adding to speeding as folks race to make the light.
    No one I talk to thinks that light was a good idea, or was needed. How many new poles could that $300,000 have paid for in our existing traffic light infrastructure that is obviously in dire need of attention?

  7. One and Done

    We should double the state grants for elections to $70 million this year, so the candidates have more money to campaign against the neglect of our infrastructure. $35 million (as reported by the hour today) is clearly not enough to fix our problems. We could have shored up the rotted base of that pole with Elect Duff bumper stickers. What a photo op that would make too.

  8. Mike Mushak

    Nancy, your statement that traffic lights weigh up to 28 lbs. each sounds way too light for the steel and glass fixtures shown that are about 3 feet tall. I would guess them at more like 280 lbs each. Either you missed a zero or got some bad information off the internet. A 28 pond fixture would also sail around in the wind like a Chinese lantern, so I would think weight is an important component to keep them stable in high winds.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Mike Mushak

      Here’s the link: http://www.ask.com/question/how-much-does-a-traffic-light-weigh

      I thought they were heavier, too, but other links corroborated this one.

  9. Don’t Panic

    Ahhh, but Mr. Mushak, that new light was made possible by “free money”, so it must have been a good idea. The feds gave Norwalk $3.5mm to do install 15 traffic light along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, North and South Main streets, and at the intersection of Washington and North Water streets, with all the fancy computerized controllers. Of course, the remaining 73 signals had to be upgraded, and a few more added for good measure. How much has been spent by the city on Traffic Signal improvements with state of the art fiber optics and computer controlled traffic cameras/signals since that time (for a city of 85,000)?

  10. spanner

    Its great we have task force members on the ready to cut deep into how the city is running I will sleep well tonight.

    As a amateur observer I realize anything I have to add is nonsense and no one needs it.But Norwalk police case number 32453 where a car hit a light pole there the other nght around 1 AM during a unrelated bar distrurbance where our boys in blue had to use city resources to correct crime in our run down part of the city I’m wondering if that was the light pole?The car if I’m not mistaken was destroyed and towed.Police reports and police arrest were published.

    Yes it shows rot similar to Norwalks politics making it hard to draw a line to the corrupt highway dept and the fact the accident during drinking time in Norwalk was actually seen by reporting officers to the usual bar fights Norwalk enjoys,

    Task force members in Norwlalk seem to shoot from the hip and hit nothing maybe they are right this time.

    Cardboard cut outs of task force members may be used for traffic calming a lot less money than Hals verson and no study has to be done saving the city thousands.Maybe an art grant can pay for such creativity.Task force members holding a school slow sign.

    Now everyone has the ability to look this up and see there was an accident,there was evading and there was also a bar distrubance as usual on wall st around 1 am.An arrest of the driver may be the reason no one is talking its an on going court case…..DAHHHHH

    Maybe everyone is silent to let our task force members do what they do best and not break a pattern of silence when it comes to the ills of Norwalks very fine drinking holes.

    Its ok I won’t be looking for a grant for my research work I may be wrong wouldn’t want to fleece our city or State coffers.More importnant things to spend money on.My only example of waste are those bags on trees in liberty sq the new trees show slight signs of deprived vegetation could someone water them and see if its just hydration and not some chemical leaking from Vets park?

    I hate to defend anyone I don’t care for nor take away credibility to those I cant stand.So for what I can contribute no thanks is needed.

    If I simply thank jACKIE and mIKE for all they do in Norwalk that would be out of character and could be taken as a caustic and abrasive post.

    Mikes observance of the traffic light is good but the amount of deaths and injuries at Vets parks entrance that has no light and the work of Deering at that intersction Moccia had done may be the issue.If not mistaken that was election time work Deering did.I also have a picture of about 15 state and city officials at a light on water st when those lights were decided on.New lights went in replacing functional ones so maybe the investor of the boat yard didn’t have to foot the expense when construction starts.(prove that wrong)

    Many funtional lights were done on water st also the fort point one maybe a detailed post on all of them may have more impact on waste in the future.

  11. spanner

    a Peter Falk moment,didn’t the city notify clmp on the light pole and if they did is it still Norwalks responsibility?

  12. Paula

    Does anyone know why the Burnell Street bridge project is not including the infrastructure extension onto River street? The new fencing ends at the corner or Burnell and River streets. The old fencing, which rises approx ten feet, is completely rusted out with old rusted and snapped retaining bolts broken, just laying there, on the sidewalk. One good wind gust or push and the whole rusted junky fence contraption will topple over. Its another accident waiting to happen, so someone, can put in claims. Seems like, since construction is ongoing, that replacing that part of the fencing on River street wouldnt be that costly and if you just look, is a no brainer. Maybe its scheduled for replacement at some future point of the project but it doesn’t appear so. Anyone know what the deal is with River street?

  13. Jlightfield

    @Paula the fence is awful. There is another project scheduled to replace the “bridge” on River. It is scheduled to start after the Brunnel Blvd project. I will check to see what the fence status in that is.

  14. Paula

    Thank you Jackie, good to hear that there is a plan to replace that section also. If someone posts a pic its obvious that it needs to be addressed before someone gets hurt.

  15. EveT

    There is also a century-old water main adjacent to the Burnell Blvd bridge that is being replaced.

  16. potaxpayer

    @ Suzanne, the city or country would have the money to fix up the infrastructure, but we are spending billions on the illegal invading lawbreakers you love so much, and the country is so far in debt to china, get used to as you call it the infrastructure melt down. maybe we can get a 30 million grant and build housing for the illegals crossing the texas border today.

  17. Colin G

    I was wondering what all the temporary stop signs were doing down there on my ride to work this morning. I for one would like to see a trial perhaps 6-9 months where they left the stop signs and see if $200 worth of signs can do the job of $1M in oversized ridiculous traffic lights that belong on a Nascar starting line. Maybe this could guide future traffic “improvements”.

    As a frequent cycle commuter to my job in SoNo from my home by Stew Leonard’s I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of traffic queue during my commute this morning and evening. Also with the temporary measures there was much more awareness between all users of the intersection, a welcome change for myself, as my quick jog through downtown from High St to Commerce Via Wall St. Is a typically a miserable experience. Mostly because there are 3 lane shifts in about 100′ and previously horrible light timing. The stop signs kept everyone moving at a much more humane speed with more awareness of other users. As a result I felt much less threatened using this part of town as a cyclist and was able to flow better with traffic while following the rules.

    To quote an ad:
    One giant traffic light $300,000
    Several inexpensive stop signs $300
    Finding out that you can spend less on infrastructure while improving the lives of residents and being able to meet your other financial obligations…priceless.

  18. Suzanne

    poor potaxpayer, so misinformed and so not on topic.

  19. Mike Mushak

    Colin G, brilliant! I had the same experience today, as I stopped at that 3 way stop and enjoyed a more civilized exchange with my fellow drivers an dpedestrians instead of all that waiting and waiting in long lines, only to floor it when the light turned green so you wouldnt get stuck yet again. The tragedy of our current DPW is that we now have shelves of studies costing taxpayers millions that say we should consider lost of alternatives to lights including modern roundabouts (with pedestrian signals) that move traffic smoothly and calmly. This would have been a perfect solution for West Ave and Ct Ave, in front of Mathews Park, instead of that death trap that we got after spending millions to “improve” that intersection.

    There are near head on collisions every time the light changes, as folks leaving Mathews Park who have the right of way going straight are nearly hit by folks coming down the hill who think they have the right of way because of the strange angle on the intersection. While serving on Zoning, and discussing an expansion of Stepping Stones, I brought this issue up. The response from DPW was “we see no issue here”, when every driver every day sees the issue quite clearly as they nearly get hit head on!
    This was just a couple of years after a design workshop of the Connectivity Study, when I agreed with the consultant how cool a roundabout would be there. It would have fit without taking any private property actually. I envisioned a huge flag pole in the center that would be a focal point up West Ave. Hal Alvord’s response was simple and direct: “We will never have a roundabout in Norwalk.” So we spent millions on a traffic light that actually is dangerous and backs up traffic for a full block at peak times.
    Imagine how amazing Norwalk would be with visionary leaders in charge of P and Z and DPW! We can dream, can’t we?

  20. Casey Smith

    Actually, after Hurricane Sandy, the City of Stamford discovered that using a stop sign outside of Stamford Hospital worked much better than a traffic light, to the point that they never bothered to replace the traffic light and everyone is much happier with it.
    Personally, I was much happier with the three way stop sign at the intersection Tierney and Strawberry Hill than I am with the “new design” of the intersection and the traffic light. Apparently, those sharp curves are now the “best practices” for traffic calming these days. I don’t like them at all.

  21. EveT

    Speaking of the intersection of Tierney and Strawberry Hill, what would it take to get a street sign so people know it is Tierney Street? You have to drive all the way from Strawberry Hill to City Hall before you see a street sign telling you you are on Sunset Hill.

  22. Jlightfield

    @coling I’ve been noticing the improved traffic flow with the stop signs too. I think it is worth trying out for awhile. Btw I finally got around to reading the CT DOT traffic signal requirements and no where does it state that we have to use this ginormous poles and masts. In addition they aren’t supposed to be located on sidewalks! I’m looking forward to pursuing this to the inevitable recommendation to DPW.

  23. Suzanne

    EveT, We were warned by neighbors in New York before we moved here that there would be no street signs at intersections except for the street you were on. That was actually true for a long, long time. No GPS then and maps were not all that helpful. I think I spent the first three years here lost.

  24. spanner

    Just in stone wall falls into street in Norwalk….. Devine has been contcted for cement advice!

    It just doesn’t stop from board rooms to NON Norwalk has had enough experts to last the city a lifetime.

    Pick a subject that your all good at and leave Norwalk alone.

    So far we still have no answers to who owns the pole or even what the pole was made of,some materials don’t rot Aluminum comes to mind most in Norwalk are made of it.

    So please NON go get pictures of the stone wall that could of killed many in Norwalkers and give the experts something else to work on so we all can have a good laugh.

    I imagine where this huge newsbreaking story just happened where many Norwalkers could have been killed will take the edge off of the poles.

    From what I can gather the wall that has just fallen into the street and sidewalk it has made national news!Another black eye for tourism in Norwalk.

    just in DPW has places tape around this wall please stand by for further breaking news.

    By the way I have street lights in my yard next to my hydrant they are not heavy at all.

  25. potaxpayer

    @ suzanne, no i’m not off topic, when you have 47% of the country on some kind of assistance from the govt. ct is the 5th best state for welfare bennys, and ct is in the top 3 in taxes and number 1 in working people fleeing the state. ct is #50 in economic recovery, #50 in infrastructure, and i would hate to see how the illegal invation is costing the tax payers of norwalk alone. i bet almost half the board of ed bill is for children of illegals that do not pay taxes. so how can you tell me i’m off topic.

  26. potaxpayer

    what i’m saying is we have no money for infrastructure or anything else for the working taxpayers its all being spent on welfare or the national debt or illegals.

  27. spanner

    @potaxpayer I agree its also this cosmetic stuff Norwalkers are given in grants that is suppose to enhance the city.

    These traffic lights are just another way of making others important checking on facts ignoring ones given by those who know the deal.

    When Andy ran for mayor the light in front of his election headquarters on wall st was out and stayed out the entire election CLMP was the responsible party.when experts come out of the woodwork claiming to right a wrong for the good of Norwalkers why is so hard to get facts straight?Our task force should have no problem on grandstanding on this light situation.

    We still havn’t got confirmation on an accident that hit the pole recently,we have no proof Hal is responsible yet raw sewage is flowing down the Norwalk river closing beaches.Whats more important at this point?

    The quality of life coninues to drop,reports each day on how Ct is the worst at something and we still have those thinking if you give the taxpayers grant money on crap its all going to be all right.

    The police calls for loud music,fights and theft on Wall st is daily yet the poles need attention.I want a city that cares about people first and poles last.

    Make the city grow knowing soon grants and extra money wont be there to increase fire police and EMS in the end the taxpayers will pay.

    Lets get those fancy lights on wall st like Sono.(this is where its heading folks)When they get hit more often than most the grant money that bought them takes taxpayers money to fix them or replace them at twice the cost as a regular lamp post and light in Sono.

    Last night after dark not one street light in Sono was on,doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having lights for safety after the sun has set or blocked by storm clouds?
    But thats Sono where most do gooders have been shown the door and Rich and his crew now run that part of the city.

    Get use to Norwalk receiving the short straw the RR bridge will be for Norwalk not the State and for that we all should be blessed,

    Whats bottom line?Where wall st will be ripped up lets see if we can get new lights and more grant money while sewage flows,crime continues and our city forgets to take care of a growing population by not matching emergency services needed.

    anyone check in with Rowayton and see if they need a street light audit? Or has grant money bought them all flashlights?

  28. Suzanne

    potaxpayer, would love to see the facts on how much of the GDP is going to support “illegals”. Ask up country anywhere in Fairfield County and see how well those residents would operate without undocumented workers doing the housekeeping, the lawn mowing, the wall building, the planting, etc. That would go the same way for anyone else who hires such workers doing this kind of work in this area. That’s not taking away from infrastructure – unless you can prove a connection – most of these people are paid “under the table” in cash or, if paid correctly, pay INTO the tax system that you and I pay into. It is a HUGE fallacy to believe that undocumented workers do not pay taxes. Now, potaxpayer, because you can throw it but cannot take it with factual information rather than invective, I will value my time enough to not communicate with you again. Enjoy!

  29. Kathleen Montgomery

    Well said, Suzanne.

  30. Norwalk Cares

    Many of our neighborhoods suffer flooding during heavy rains. Storm drains are tied into the sewer lines raising the costs for sewerage treatment and contributing to sewerage overflow into our beaches. Rusted traffic signals pole are so neglected they fall over.
    Yet, Hal Alvord still has a job.

  31. spanner

    Just in

    FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A recently released White House report says Connecticut has the worst roads and bridges in the country, according to the Hartford Business Journal

    Cant have lights until the roads are right,our city is so screwd.

    No need to send our reps back to the State house they have now let the State hit rock bottom,thanks boys.

    How can anyone take grant money and feel good about it when its not for infrastructure?

    Back to the lights any word on that accident before the pole broke?

    Looks like another accident yesterday on Brunnel Blvd was it fence related?

  32. Casey Smith

    @ Norwalk Cares –
    “Many of our neighborhoods suffer flooding during heavy rains. Storm drains are tied into the sewer lines raising the costs for sewerage treatment and contributing to sewerage overflow into our beaches.”
    Monday evening, I happened to be out of town when the rain storm rolled through. A number of people at the gathering had their phones go off with a “Severe Weather Alert” warnings. Others who were out driving in the storm have told me that the conditions were so poor, they seriously thought about pulling off the road until the worst had passed.
    The State routinely takes readings from the Sound from various areas after a rainfall of more than a couple of inches, which I am sure this storm exceeded. If the State doesn’t like the test results, they close the beaches. According to the Daily Voice, Westport and Fairfield beaches were also closed yesterday.
    Could you explain to me how Hal Alvord is responsible for a severe thunderstorm resulting in the State closing the beaches in our town and some in neighboring communities?

  33. spanner

    @Casey your right.

    Be nice to know if the dept of Aquaculture in Milford is testing anything on their own?Last time we checked the lab was still in boxes after the last move and they depend on private labs for results.Which might mean two or more rounds of testing by a private contractor that may slow the pace for openings.

    This is why we have a useless environmental task force some know this and could verify this in Milford or tell us what has changed in testing.

    After rains like that its possible no testing was done in Norwalk that condition after rains has never changed.By the way you can smell the sewage along the banks of the Norwalk river from DPW to the power plant trust me no testing has to be done you cant miss the smell.

    Yet Norwalk wants to be a destination for our beaches and water a city pool is starting to sound good.Next to the new splash park Norwalk is building.

  34. amd4008

    @ EveT
    “Speaking of the intersection of Tierney and Strawberry Hill, what would it take to get a street sign so people know it is Tierney Street? You have to drive all the way from Strawberry Hill to City Hall before you see a street sign telling you you are on Sunset Hill.”

    I’m with you on that one! And now that Yankee gas dug up our street & patched; do they ever plan on paving? It’s like going off road driving! Yee-haw! (Not cool on our vehicles!)

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