Well, it looks like the “06880” community’s idea of using the Wakeman Park cut-through to alleviate North Avenue/Cross Highway traffic hit a dead end.
The simple fix would have saved residents, commuters and school-bound teenagers and parents countless man- and woman-hours each year.
However, examining that traffic flow problem made me realize the issue is more than just too many drivers trying to fit onto not enough asphalt. There’s also the fact that Cross Highway and North Avenue don’t intersect neatly.
Rather than a clean 4-way stop, the two major roads angle into each other. That was fine when they started out, as cow paths probably, and it may not have been an issue when there were only a couple of flivvers an hour.
But in 2010, when every Westporter owns a car and every car is driven by Westporters who haven’t exactly memorized the rules of the road, the amount of traffic is compounded by the uncertainty of who goes next. Those moments of hesitancy — of waiting for the other guy to go, or (more likely) both gals going at the same time, then stopping, then starting again — add up quickly.
Cross Highway and North Avenue are not our only mis-aligned intersections. Myrtle and Imperial Avenues downtown stare crookedly at each other across the Post Road; despite a traffic light, hesitancy abounds over who goes when. Traffic backs up unnecessarily.
For non-alignment, nothing beats the CVS and Trader Joe’s entrances and exits. Just a few yards apart, this is such a mess that I’m sure an entire segment of Westporters simply refuses to shop at Compo and Compo Acres Shopping Centers.
If you manage to leave that area without being killed, and find your way to the end of North Compo, you’ll come to another poorly aligned intersection: the one with Clinton Avenue, across Main Street.
Interestingly, the worst intersection in the entire
town state country galaxy is less than a quarter mile away: Easton Road/Weston Road/Main Street, near the Merritt exit 42 on-off ramps. At this spaghetti bowl of neck-wrenching twists and turns, only a couple of stop and yield signs offers guidance.
Yet everyone navigates this bottleneck safely, smoothly — and relatively quickly. There are backups, sure, but none of the frenzied jostling and I’ll-pretend-I-didn’t-see-you maneuvers that are de rigeur elsewhere in town.
Could it be that the sheer complexity of that maze forces people to pay attention, follow rules, even practice common courtesy?
And if so, does that mean we should make North Avenue and Cross Highway more tough to navigate, rather than less, in order to improve traffic flow, blood pressure, and daily Westport life?