Police Cpl. Al D’Amura, at Wednesday’s Board of Selectwomen meeting, describes new warning signs the town wants to install on Post Road West to control traffic problems near Kings Highway Elementary School.

By John Schwing

WESTPORT — Tackling the tangle of traffic congestion and safety issues besetting the zone around Kings Highway Elementary School, officials Wednesday decided to send a sign — actually, two signs — warning motorists to abide by the law.

At the request of public safety officials, the Board of Selectwomen approved a request to the state Department of Transportation — which has jurisdiction over Post Road West, or Route 1 — to allow installation of signs at two points on the road where problems persistently arise near the school.

Police Cpl. Al D’Amura detailed the request to the selectwomen: a “Do Not Block Driveway” is proposed for 175-181 Post Road West in front of the Nash’s Plaza retail/commercial complex, and a “Do Not Block the Intersection” sign would be installed at 191-199 Post Road West, near its intersection with Kings Highway North and Schulhof Animal Hospital.

State transportation officials have to approve the request before the signs can be installed, he said.

Coupled with the posted warnings, D’Amura said, police plan stepped-up enforcement against problems caused by long lines of drivers dropping off and picking up children at Kings Highway Elementary School.

As part of the safety campaign, D’Amura emphasized that officers plan initially to issue verbal warnings before ticketing violators.

Traffic around Kings Highway, he said, has spiked since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more parents choosing to drive their children to and from school. Compounding the problem, he noted, is that Kings Highway, like other town schools, lacks the capacity to easily handle such a high volume of daily traffic.

Kings Highway Principal Tracey Carbone has sent repeated advisories to parents about the traffic issues, D’Amura said, but the problems keep recurring.

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Selectwoman Andrea Moore both said they often drive on Post Road West several times a day, and corroborated the school-related problems cited by police.

Tooker said she has seen cars start lining up as early as an hour in advance of the school’s dismissal.

Both selectwomen voted to endorse the sign-installation request to the DOT. Selectwoman Candice did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Officials noted that the state’s plans to redesign the Post Road West/Kings Highway North intersection could help address the problems, although a date for that project is uncertain.

Also in the works is a plan to install a bus shelter in front of Nash’s Plaza, which officials said also would bring additional safety measures for the site.

In the meantime, D’Amura said police want to move ahead with the sign installations, pending DOT permission, as part of efforts to ensure safety along the busy corridor.

John Schwing, the Westport Journal consulting editor, has held senior editorial and writing posts at southwestern Connecticut media outlets for four decades. Learn more about us here.