A project to improve safety around the West Parish/Hillandale roads’ intersection by installing signs to make the intersection an all-way stop, plus other measures, was approved by the Board of Selectwomen on Wednesday. / Photos by Gretchen Webster
All kinds of traffic heading in different directions at the intersection, as well as robust pedestrian use, make more traffic controls necessary for the West Parish/Hillandale area, according to neighborhood residents and officials.

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — Residents living near the chaotic and dangerous intersection of West Parish and Hillandale roads applauded Wednesday when the Board of Selectwomen gave the go-ahead for a traffic-safety project, which includes installation of more stop signs.

“My son was in a bad car accident there, someone ‘T-boned’ him,” Jan Schneider, a West Parish Road resident, told the selectwomen’s meeting in the Town Hall.auditorium.

A day after the accident, when Schneider had stopped to thank the police officer stationed at the intersection who helped her son, “someone blew through the stop signs,” nearly causing another accident. “Thank you for passing this,” she told the selectwomen.

The area, complicated by the convergence of five roads, should pose fewer dangers with the new stop signs and other safety measures, according to police, residents and town officials who spoke at the meeting.

Sight lines at the intersection are poor, and although now there is only a two-way stop, many motorists mistakenly believe that all cars will stop, according to police Cpl. Al D’Amura.

Police Cpl. Al D’Amura explains the new traffic West Parish/Hillandale safety measure at Wednesday’s Board of Selectwomen meeting.

Yield signs in the intersection are also a problem because many drivers are confused by the directive to “yield” at that location.

The plan calls for the yield signs to be removed and two new stop signs to be installed in the intersection. Signs indicating that there are stop signs ahead also will be installed to let motorists know the intersection is an all-way stop, D’Amura said.

With the help of the Department of Public Works, sight lines will be improved, he added. 

Police enforcement in the area also will be stepped up, D’Amura said, including near the West Parish Road intersection with Post Road East where “when you make a right or left turn, you go into a hill, or into a dip, or you go into a curve,” resulting in poor visibility in all directions.

Accidents and many near misses, which frequently are not reported, have increased at the Hillandale/West Parish roads’ intersection as traffic volume in the area has increased, he said. “By doing this it will help dramatically at this intersection.”

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker said that in addition to the residents who came to the meeting to support approval of the plan, she had received many emails from other neighbors backing the initiative.

The project is “a good example” of the work the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Task Force can accomplish, she said. “Clearly, we will be making a neighborhood safer.”

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.