No Safe Harbor On Saugatuck Shores

Saugatuck Shores was on the agenda at a recent board of selectmen meeting. They considered 2 petitions: one for speed bumps on Harbor Road, the other against.

Alert “06880” reader Gene Borio doesn’t have a horse in that race. He lives on Canal Road, a 600-yard straightaway. That’s where he’d like to see speed bumps. Or at least a speed-activated sign (which residents have requested, to no avail).

But Gene has another issue with Harbor Road: the new sea wall. In his opinion, it’s waaaay too close to the road. Strolling, jogging, biking, dog-walking — all are now life-in-your-hands situations.

In just half an hour the other day, he saw:

Harbor Road 1

Harbor Road 3

Harbor Road 2

While Gene was taking these photos, a contractor asked what he was shooting.

“The beautiful view, of course,” Gene said.

“And the sea wall. I think it’s too close to the road.”

“Yeah!” the contractor replied. “Why couldn’t they have moved it back 3 feet?!”

Gene thinks that would be tough. But, he says, 1 1/2 to 2 feet could be doable.

As for the traffic photos: “There’s a lot worse than this going on every day,” he says.

Like this shot:

Harbor Road 4

There are no cars nearby — but there could be.

And that’s without speed bumps.


9 responses to “No Safe Harbor On Saugatuck Shores

  1. Seems contradictory. A narrow country lane not only reflects an older, quieter Westport which everyone is always complaining about loosing but also serves to slow traffic. Is a wider road with speed bumps and electronic speed signs really a better alternative?

  2. FYI, as a follow-up to the hearing, residents of Saugatuck Island are working on a “Drive 25” campaign to alert not only area residents but also contractors (See 06880:Truck photos!) and food delivery people to the importance of driving carefully and under the posted limits. A speed-activated sign, conventional signs and enforcement would all help.

  3. Been here since 1983. In that time there have been no major accidents, nor has anyone been killed in the last 50 years. The previous wall, which stood for many years, was in the exact same position. Let us leave the “no humps” in the hands of Chief Call, as our 3 selectman concluded at a very long & contentious town meeting.

  4. As one of Janet Tatusko’s RTM reps. and thereafter following my departure from the RTM, I worked with Janet in her efforts to address speeding on Harbor Rd. There is a speeding problem. Harbor Rd. probably could be a beautiful and safe walking, biking and driving route along the water, road widening is rarely a solution and it is up to the neighbors and the Town to generate positive change. Janet surely tried.
    Don Bergmann

  5. We rented for a year on Harbor Rd. The large trucks that speed down the road often is of serious concern. Though we no longer live there, I can attest to the many trucks/service cars that go way beyond a reasonable speed level for the area. Living on that street and hearing the trucks whizz by had us on high alert. I don’t think we need to wait for someone to be seriously hurt to do something about the lack of safe driving practice on Harbor Rd. I would also encourage the Yacht club and neighbors who live there to reinforce with visiting vendors the need to slow down. It really is an accident waiting to happen and has likely not occurred yet because of neighbors adapting to the situation

  6. PS re the wall – that wall was torn asunder by Storm Sandy and painstakingly rebuilt. It looks strong and attractive now. Goodness knows how much time and $$$ went into rebuilding it. I can’t imagine that moving it will help the situation, even if that were feasible. Drivers just need to need to sloooooooooow down and people are working on that!

  7. Elizabeth Thibault

    This is an especially scenic area of Westport and I understand the desires and concerns of the residents regarding allowing emergency services to respond, but also their desire to be able to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty safely. Is there a way to accommodate both, perhaps with a separated walkway or boardwalk? I have only seen the roadway from the water in the past few years so I’m not certain, but the pictures above show there may be room to place those in some areas. For the lengths where this may not be possible, are there creative solutions that could be made with a cantilevered or pier supported stretch, 3 feet wide? Any solution requires will and money, but since both sides express concern for lives, a creative solution should be possible.

  8. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    Part of the issue regarding speeding is that Harbor Road is long, mostly straight, and has good visibility from the western corner almost all the way to the little white bridge. You can see cars and peds a long way off. The last section (near Rowland Place, shown above) gets narrower, and this is where drivers need to slow down most. Although it looks like a quiet seaside area, there are roughly 300 homes on the Shores (100 on the Island alone), plus the yacht club. Yet there is not a lot of volume or cross traffic to create congestion to slow traffic. It’s “easy” to speed here, and there have been very few accidents. I would guess that more boats have crashed on Harbor Road than cars. However, I agree that it’s worrisome when you look out your window and see cars and trucks speeding by.
    Except for weekend beach traffic, the Compo beach/marina area doesn’t provide a good comparison (shorter roads, fewer homes, less commercial traffic), so the argument for speed bumps falters.
    Regarding the seawall, it is a relatively new installation (20-25 years? 1992 winter storm?), and after every major storm, it has been extended and reinforced. The main purpose is to protect the homes (and the road) from wave action during a storm.
    No easy answers, and “do nothing” remains a valid option.

  9. The wall as a whole is NOT exactly where the old one was, as the old one was not uniform. There is a qualitative difference between an implacable, 3′ vertical wall, and the haphazard collection of rocks and boulders that lined Harbor Road previously–which did allow plenty of opportunities for pedestrians to slip off the road to safety. To get a rough idea of the difference, see Bob Lazaroff’s picture of the old wall at:

    The new wall may be more protective from the sea–but is clearly more dangerous for pedestrians. Considering its unforgiving nature, it should have been moved a foot or so off the road, imo.