A pie chart illustrates residents’ concerns about traffic and safety concerns townwide, based on findings from nine neighborhood meetings last year. Charts in the report also show more granular issues as voiced in each of the nine Representative Town Meeting districts.

By John Schwing

WESTPORT — A detailed report on local traffic and safety issues, compiled from results of meetings last year in each of the town’s nine Representative Town Meeting districts, was released Tuesday.

The report findings reflect a compilation of residents’ concerns on a wide range of issues, from roadway intersections, sidewalks and crosswalks to speeding, traffic volume and enforcement. 

A total of 371 “data” records are included in the report issued by First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, who organized the nine neighborhood traffic meetings beginning last March.

The issues — and potential solutions — are grouped in three “bucket” categories as follows:

  • Green bucket: Projects described as ongoing, already scheduled for upgrades or maintenance, or that would need “a modicum” of work to accomplish. These are considered the “easiest” to address, according to the report.
  • Yellow bucket:  These plans are considered longer term than green bucket projects, and would take more planning, permits and capital funding to accomplish.
  • Red bucket: These projects are essentially beyond the town’s control, according to the report, because they are beyond local officials’ jurisdiction, are cost prohibitive or “too difficult” to pursue. The town will not take action on any of this issues “at this time,” the report states.

“As I acknowledged during the course of the meetings, the issues and concerns will not go away overnight,” Tooker said in a statement accompanying the report. “But these meetings and the recognition from all the residents who participated are an important first step.”

The first selectwoman added that officials in the town’s public safety, public works and planning/zoning departments have been consulted on the traffic report’s findings and their expertise will help address the cited “traffic and pedestrian safety issues.”

The report is described as a “living document,” which will be updated when projects are completed or there is new information about related topics at the “Traffic and Pedestrian Safety” page on the town’s website.

One “green bucket” issue that has been addressed is stepped up traffic regulation and safety enforcement by a new police Traffic Safety Unit established last October, as well as officers on standard patrol duty.

Since the first of the neighborhood traffic meetings last March, the report says police conducted 2,319 traffic stops “targeting many areas of concern.” Officers issued 729 citations for traffic violations, made 17 arrests for driving under the influence as well as issuing 16 misdemeanors for other traffic-related offenses, according to the report.

The town also has applied for a grant for an “action plan” that would devise a “holistic” approach to make local roads safer for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

Top green bucket projects

No. 1 issues: Sidewalks needed on Hillspoint Road, north from Old Mill Road, and traffic along the Interstate 95 corridor in town, where many accidents and a general “mess” result from “dramatically” increased in traffic over the years, the report says.

Solutions: New Hillspoint sidewalks being designed under a state grant, and an “ongoing work group” meeting to address traffic concerns in the congested corridor.

No. 2 issues: Sidewalks in need of repair and a new crosswalk at Kings Highway North and Ludlow Road, and sidewalks needed in front of Riverside Park.

Solutions: New sidewalks and crosswalk were installed last year at Kings Highway North and Ludlow Road, and a new sidewalk also was built in front of renovated Riverside Park last year.

No. 3 issues: Poor condition of Main Street sidewalks from Canal Street to Wassell Lane, and traffic concerns on Sylvan Road North around Pierrepont School caused by drivers lining up to drop off and pick up students.

Solutions: Main Street sidewalk repairs underway are expected to be completed this year, and after police discussed concerns about Sylvan Road North traffic with school officials, the school reportedly is “eager” to address the issues.

Top yellow bucket concerns

No. 1 issues: Poorly marked intersection at Hillspoint Road and Compo Hill Avenue, and congested intersection at Bridge Street and Compo Road South.

Possible solutions: A sidewalk project, pending receipt of a state grant, is planned at Hillspoint/Compo Hill, and the town has asked the state Department of Transportation to consider improving the Bridge/Compo intersection.

No. 2 issues: Sidewalks needed on Kings Highway North from Woodside Avenue to Post Road West; parking spaces that are too narrow in lots across town; sidewalks across town that fail to comply with American with Disabilities Act regulations, and hazardous street parking outside a Riverside Avenue auto body shop.

Possible solutions: New sidewalks for Kings Highway North “considered” after “mid-term” repairs to existing sidewalks; town plans to improve parking spaces as municipal lots are upgraded and to bring sidewalks into compliance with ADA rules as repairs take place townwide, and police plan outreach to the body shop owner to resolve the parking issue.

No. 3 issues: Dangerous intersection at Post Road with Wilton Road and Riverside Avenue; drivers using parking lot as cut-through to avoid traffic light at Post Road East and Hillspoint Road; new crosswalk needed at Post Road East and Parker Harding Plaza, and heavy traffic on Newtown Turnpike to Broad Street being used as a shortcut to avoid Wilton Road and Route 57.

Possible solutions: At Post/Wilton/Riverside intersection, improvements being “examined” to crosswalk and pedestrian signaling; state DOT has a “project” for Post Road East/Hillspoint; another DOT project “in the works” for Post Road East/Parker Harding, and police will assign a traffic detail to enforce “no through trucks” on Newtown/Broad stretch, with new signs under consideration.

Top red bucket concerns

No. 1 issue: Harbor Road and Duck Pond Road intersection, needs sidewalks and is dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians.

No solution: The right-of-way is too narrow to install a sidewalk.

No. 2 issue: Sidewalks needed along Post Road West from Terra Nova Circle eastward to downtown.

No solution: The right-of-way and topographical restrictions would make sidewalks there “cost prohibitive.”

No. 3 issues: The lack of sidewalks and, in some cases, bicycle lanes cited on Newtown Turnpike to Broad Street; on Revel and Cavalry roads, and on Sylvan Road North.

No solution: In the case of Newtown/Broad stretch, officials say the right-of-way is too narrow for sidewalks or bike lanes, and the town has no plans for new or additional sidewalks on Rebel, Calvary or Sylvan North.

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.