Commuters: Meet Police Chief Monday A.M.; Watch New Traffic Pattern Monday P.M.

Commuters have concerns about the proposed reconstruction of Saugatuck railroad station parking lot 1.

Foti Koskinas is ready to hear them out. And show them exactly what’s being planned.

Tomorrow morning (Monday, June 6, 6 to 8:30 a.m.), the police chief will be at the station. He’ll listen to what commuters say, and help clarify the scope of the work.

Tomorrow afternoon (Monday, June 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.), he’ll close 4 of the 5 exits from the lot — simulating (as best he can) the traffic pattern if the renovation plan is approved.

An aerial view of train station parking lot 1 (center). Only one exit will be used Monday from 5:30-7:30 p.m., to simulate the proposed reconstruction plan.

An aerial view of train station parking lot 1 (center). Only one exit will be used Monday from 5:30-7:30 p.m., to simulate the proposed reconstruction plan.

Anyone wishing to observe the experiment (as opposed to being part of it) should park in lot #2 (off Railroad Place) or on Franklin Street, and watch from Luciano Park. That way, pedestrians will not impede traffic flow.

“Our goal is to work with the community,” Koskinas says. “Everyone wants what is best for the commuter, while at the same time highlighting safety while following required rules and regulations.”

11 responses to “Commuters: Meet Police Chief Monday A.M.; Watch New Traffic Pattern Monday P.M.

  1. So let me get this straight: at the 11th hour , with one day to go before an important RTM vote on a $1.5 million project that has heretofore been rammed through various boards, they are NOW willing to solicit input from the commuters most affected by this proposal ? And stage a simulation during the summer when traffic is at its lowest for the year ? Is this how a town government is supposed to function? Those supporting this flawed plan need to stop playing games and agree to postpone this vote until there is a serious and meaningful opportunity to study its costs and benefits

    • Actually, the process has been going on for 16 months. The Board of Finance, Planning and Zoning, Zoning Board of Appeals, RTM Finance Committee and RTM Public Works Committee have discussed this; engineers, State Department of Transportation, state highway and rail groups, CT DEEP and MTA have all been involved.

      The RTM Transit Committee was the first group to raise concerns — last Tuesday. Those concerns have led to Monday’s meeting.

      Also, the lot will probably be full tomorrow. Traffic is not low now — schools are still in session, and the trains have been full.

      • You’re right , plenty of boards have reviewed this . But far as I can tell there has been no meaningful effort to solicit input from the one group of people who would be most affected – the commuters. When the town plans to cut down a tree they at least post a written notice on the trunk.

  2. Denielle deWynter

    Anyone who knows or lives with a commuter will understand that an additional 6 minutes of commute time is a big deal! As a long time commuter from CT to NYC my request for a better proposal would be (1) MORE parking, (2) CLOSER to the station, (3) LESS congestion and (4) SHORTER commuting times.

  3. This should be interesting to see not only the backup in the lot to get out, but the subsequent back up on the exit ramp on 95 northbound.and 136 northbound (which is significant in the evening rush hour). This would make for a GREAT drone-photographed observation, for any drone operators out there who can document this.

  4. Joyce Barnhart

    Kudos to Chief Koskinas. A test before things are set in cement. Too bad he wasn’t in charge of the curbs on Main Street.

  5. John D McCarthy

    Amazing that a real traffic study wasn’t done to determine the impact on traffic and wait times. If it was, the study should speak for itself, with no need for a last minute subjective demonstration. Spending $1.5 million without such a study seems like the wrong way to go.

  6. Brook Porter

    As a daily commuter, I really hate this idea on the surface – why can’t they simply repave? Seems to me if there are safety and/or CDOT compliance issues it would be helpful to have the details posted online somewhere, so we could have some idea of the reasoning behind the proposal. A demo is fine, but still doesn’t address the issue of why this is needed.

  7. Thomas D Carey

    Would it be possible to split the parking lot into two separate areas and have two exits?

  8. Jeffrey Wieser

    Closing the exits this evening, in the current configuration, might not give the most accurate results to any tie up in the proposed layout. I noticed over the weekend that Springdale RR Station looks very much like what is being proposed. Does anyone know commuters there who could tell how that traffic flow works? (It looks to be~ 200 spots only, so that too is not a perfect comparison, but could be another input.)

  9. As a member of the RTM, I showed up to observe the experiment last night. Chief Koskinas had previously reported to us that his experiment revealed that the 6:58 train let off the most passengers, leading to about 58 cars leaving lot #1 and resulting in about a 4 to 6 minute exit delay for that peak train. I have confidence that the Chief accurately reported that. However, last night, not that many people got off the 6:58 train. The busiest train I saw was the 7:35, and there were only about 24 cars, and the delay I observed was less than three minutes. I do not know why there was such a big delta in the experiments between yesterday and the other dates. I assume it is because the fact that there was going to be an experiment was posted on this site in advance, so commuters decided to time their departure from the city to avoid being delayed by the experiment. This disparity underscores what I learned in the Cornell statistics classes I took decades ago: one needs a large random sample to get good scientific results. We do not know from the handful of days in which we conducted this experiment in June whether it speaks to what happens in December. Perhaps with longer days, people work longer, or maybe the reverse. In February, perhaps because it gets darker earlier, people may compress their departure times and, with snow, there will be even greater congestion and back up. Because of the wide disparity between the Chief’s previous experiment, and last night’s, we know that we need more data to predict accurately the impact of this exit elimination from lot #1. We certainly need to involve more commuters in the conversation. The simple fact is that the majority of the elected officials deciding this simply are not presently NYC commuters (at a time when MetroNorth has slowed some trains by 20 mins.), so they are not the most directly affected Westporters. I think process matters. We need to involve commuters more in a process that will affect them directly. Any change that (1) moves parking spaces farther away, and (2) reduces the # of parking spaces available in the closer parking lots, is a change that goes against what commuters want. Thus, it is a change that must be subjected to the closest scrutiny and study, which must occur within a process that permits ample commuter input. We need to search for solutions that involve: (1) MORE parking, (2) CLOSER to the station, (3) LESS congestion and (4) SHORTER commuting times. This proposed solution achieves the opposite of those desiderata. Thus, Westport needs to hit the pause button and look for options that do not achieve the opposite of what commuters want.