The intersection of Cross Highway and Roseville Road, along with the road’s intersection with Punch Bowl Drive, will get new crosswalks and traffic signs under plans approved Wednesday by the Board of Selectwomen. / Photo, Google maps

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — The Board of Selectwomen this week approved several traffic improvement projects, adding to a list of initiatives already in the pipeline designed to upgrade safety for pedestrians and drivers.

On Wednesday, the selectwomen unanimously approved projects to prepare for installation of bus shelters on Post Road West, as well as plans for new crosswalks at several Cross Highway intersections.

To prepare for new bus shelters, the board approved sidewalk upgrades, including a pedestrian crosswalk and caution signs, in front of two properties on Post Road West near King’s Highway Elementary School.

The projects at 191 Post Road West and across the street at 176 Post Road West are part of plans to add bus shelters along the Post Road through town. At each site, a concrete pad providing a foundation for the shelter and sidewalks will be installed, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich told the board.

The projects on both sides of the street were awarded to Reliable Excavating Co. Inc. of Danbury, which bid $62,125 for the project at 191 Post Road West, requiring driveway and accessible sidewalk ramps in addition to the bus shelter pad. Work at 176 Post Road West, bid at $39,037.50, includes a crosswalk.

It has been challenging for the town to hire contractors for all of its projects, Ratkiewich said, so he has decided to employ smaller contractors for minor jobs like this one.

“We’re running out of contractors. We’re trying to develop smaller contracts,” he said. “These projects are small enough so that small contractors can bid on them.”

The cost of the bus shelter pad and sidewalk projects will be financed from a $150,000 appropriation of ARPA funds to the town in December 2021, according to First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker.

“This is a great example of an intersection that has been problematic for years,” Tooker said.

Acting in its role as the Local Traffic Authority, the board also approved installation of three crosswalks at Cross Highway intersections with Punch Bowl Drive and Roseville Road. 

The town has already completed installation of 400 to 500 feet of sidewalk there this year, but now the intersections need crosswalks, safety signs, pavement markings and sidewalk ramps to enable accessibility for the disabled, Ratkiewich said.

“This is a great example of the Traffic and Safety Pedestrian Task Force and their work,” Tooker said. 

The selectwomen approved all the projects unanimously.

Traffic safety improvements at four other intersections  were also approved Oct. 11 by the Board of Selectwomen.

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist and journalism teacher for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman newspaper for 10 years and teaches journalism at Southern Connecticut State University.