Solving Our Traffic Light Woes

Everyone in Westport has a pet stoplight/stop sign peeve.

You know — the place where, every time you sit there, you think to yourself, This makes no sense! 

For me, it’s the light at the Kings Highway North/Wilton Road intersection. With Fort Apache on your right, there are 2 lanes. One — always with less traffic — is for left turns only. The other is for people heading straight on Kings Highway, or right onto Wilton Road.

If the car in front is turning right, they can turn on red. There’s a bonus: A left turn arrow for drivers heading south on Wilton Road allows even more right-hand turns onto Wilton Road, thanks to the delay in oncoming Wilton Road traffic from the left.

But if the car in front is going straight, you’re out of luck. No right turn on red.

The car in front is not turning on right. A backup ensues.

The solution is obvious: The left lane on Kings Highway should be for drivers turning left or going straight. The right lane should be for right turns only.

Traffic often backs up on Kings Highway (sometimes blocking the medical center entrance/exit). That simple change would help a lot.

My second pet peeve: Without getting into too much detail — because everyone knows how bad it is — here’s my suggestion for the deadly Compo Shopping Center/Compo Acres light: Alternate them.

In other words, show green for 10-15 seconds only for cars exiting from the CVS lot. Then have green for another 10-15 only for cars leaving Trader Joe’s.

It’s not perfect. But it’s 10,000% better than what we’ve got now.

This is the light in question. Note — just for grins — not one but TWO cars entering the CVS lot the wrong way.

Those are my pet traffic signal peeves. What are yours? Click “Comments” below — and don’t just complain. Suggest a solution too!

31 responses to “Solving Our Traffic Light Woes

  1. No turn on red when stopped at Coffee An, heading into town, or toward Fort Apache. I was told the State makes the determination on such restrictions. No reason not to be able to turn there.

  2. Hold on for a hundred comments, Dan, since kvetching about traffic in town seems to be a universally shared hobby. Remember if you think there are way too many more cars than there used to be: The fault lies within ourselves Baby Boomer residents like me. When you were growing up, how many cars did your family have? One. How many now? QED.

    I imagine my complaint has already been hashed over and settled long ago. But it’s similar to your suggestion:

    Driving west across the bridge from Main Street to Wilton Road, the left lane is for left turns only. While I understand the incredibly short turn arrow is only on while the other lights are red, but once its exclusive period ends, it turns green along with the right lane.

    Why then are people angry with me, when I accurately predict the number of cars allowed to turn left; the left lane is empty; and I use it to drive straight up the hill? Isn’t that what the green light mean? Or does it mean “continue to try to turn left, but now at your own incredible peril especially at 5 pm”?

    Since the arrow lets four cars through at the most, doesn’t the green light let people drive straight up the hill? The arrow is so covered over by people burning rubber trying to make the yellow turn arrow that I don’t know what it allows. I’m confident a dozen people will tell me I am a miscreant and law-breaker. Please do because I am ignorant after 20 years.

    • Thanks, Bill. Just to clarify, are you talking about Post Road West, and the light at the intersection with Riverside Avenue (left turn)?

      • Mark Samuels

        Dan, I believe Bill is talking about the same intersection in the same direction that you were talking about. The one problem is, if you’re in the left lane and the left arrow changes to green, you CANNOT go straight for 2 reasons. First, you are entering a road that’s only 1 lane and the lane to your immediate right is the one that goes straight. So, if you go straight from the left lane and there’s someone in the right lane going straight, well, you get the picture. The second problem is that the opposing traffic sees you in the left turn only lane and they may think that they can turn left onto Wilton Rd. If you then go straight, that’s another accident waiting to happen.
        I do like Dan’s suggestion.

  3. I have witnessed several cars driving into the CVS lot the wrong way as well, Dan! Seems to be a recent phenomenon. That intersection is both frustrating & frightening, to say the least. I use the rear entrance from Whitney and park in the rear for CVS. Similar for Compo Acres, I use the South Compo entrance and park in the rear to avoid the insanity in the front of these plazas. To me the worst intersection is Post Road/Wilton Road from all directions. If you are trying to turn left, the light runners in the other direction very often prevent any chance you may have of making that turn with the green arrow. I’m afraid I can’t offer a solution. Change the timing of the lights? Why not have a traffic officer (or two) as they do down by the train station during the rush? One could direct traffic, one could hand out tickets for the law breakers. Of course if there is an accident on I95, the navigation apps direct commuters through town impacting anyone living on these routes. Apparently, some towns have taken steps to prevent this: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/nyregion/traffic-apps-gps-neighborhoods.html

  4. need a left hand turn light on Compo road coming from beach to turn onto Bridge street.
    sometimes only 1 car makes it!

    • Absolutely! And I’ve seen zero cars make it. Seems to me the timing there has changed. It’s a really long green light for traffic coming down Greens Farms Road and Bridge Street. Cars are backing up on South Compo both ways much more than before.

  5. Bonnie Bradley

    Hmmm… Just wait until driverless vehicles are added into the mix. I recently read that one of the anticipated benefits they will provide is the ability to drive themselves endlessly around your drop-off spot if you cannot find a parking space, then return to pick you up, on your command. In the article that feature was lauded as just another perk for the future of transportation. Can hardly wait to see Dan’s brilliant coverage of an irate Westport driver screaming and shaking his fist at an empty car trying (politely!) to make a left turn onto the Post Road.

    • Peter Barlow

      Wow! I had forgotten about driverless cars – they seem like an awful idea to me. I LIKE to drive – not in Westport of course. A long time ago there were predictions that by the year 2000 every family would have their own helicopter, another idea that didn’t happen.

      • Amen, Peter. I like to drive as well. It’s one of the ways I can tell if I’m still alive. Besides, if God really wanted us to be helpless jellyfish he’d have provided us with self-walking pants too.

  6. Roberta Tager

    Thanks for your posts‼️♥️

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Dan, this picture accompanies my pet traffic peeve:

    4-way pedestrian stop lights at Post Road intersections. This picture was taken mid morning looking north on Imperial Avenue toward the Post Road. This is Westport , not NYC. Our pedestrian traffic is too low for these stops. All it does is slow down Post Road traffic. If we don’t protest, more such intersections are planned at Roseville Rd and Bulkley Road

  8. Unless a traffic light indicates with a green arrow, NO MORE VOLUNTARY LEFT TURNS ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.

  9. Steven Rothenberg

    There are very dangerous intersections without traffic lights. The intersection of Easton Road with Bayberry extension is extremely dangerous. Cars heading to Westport come flying around the curve and there are May cars since there is no exit 43 on the Merritt. Cars are also coming down Bayberry to turn and getting out of bayberry extension is often times very difficult. Also there are many accidents.

  10. Jan van Arsdale

    Great suggestion on the second one (CVS parking lot), but not in agreement on the first – anyone going straight behind someone turning left after the green arrow turns is stuck – there used to be a similar issue at the intersection of Bridge and Compo Road South in the direction of Greens Farms which was fixed with a left-turn only lane.

  11. Richard Fogel

    many delightful comments,thank you

  12. My beef is with an intersection that works really well and is quite attractive: Church Lane and Myrtle Ave. Everybody who actually lives nearby likes it and according to official police records, it’s a total nothingburger in terms of accidents.

    However, this rare combination of attributes was evidently just too much for our Department of Public Works. It turns out that for years it has harbored a simmering hatred for the quaint traffic island with the beautiful “Trinity Tree” which Christ and Holy Trinity Church planted there about a half century ago. So, since we’re swimming in discretionary resources these days, the town decided that NOW is the time to destroy this oasis of functionality and beauty in downtown Westport by turning it into a more standardized “T” intersection and pouring tons of concrete on top of the roots of the beautiful tree for a “pedestrian refuge” – as if anyone would really need one. At present, traffic from Church Lane can easily merge onto southbound Myrtle – which is saying something since it’s possible to wait thru several light cycles on Myrtle as traffic backs up from its intersection with the Post Road. Nope, we can’t have that. We need to visitors and residents to be trapped in downtown so that they’ll think twice about returning. And while they’re trapped we want to make that which they see as ugly as possible.

  13. Mitchell Lester

    Let’s remember a couple things…….
    1. If the intersection to which Dan first referred has a dedicated right hand turn lane, then after the light is green in both directions, those trying to go straight will be stuck behind those trying to turn left.
    2. If Bill refers to the Post Rd/Rt. 33 intersection, the lanes are clearly marked on the road and with signs. If you choose to ignore them, you potentially place yourself and others in danger and you are demonstrating that you believe the rules only apply to other people. This is the “Westport privilege” so often referenced in this blog.
    3. Like it or not, the rules are the rules. If we are all patient and just follow them, there is no reason to be annoyed at anyone. Yes, there are plenty of intersections that could be improved. But instead of making your own rules, petition the appropriate authority.

  14. Contentious town rears its ugly head again. How about taken on the situation at the corner of the Post Road and Compo Road South, right by the Dog park? It’s a nightmare. There are countless other road ‘horrors’
    all dangers…. Maybe if a list cold be compiled from the responses you receive and then given to the Department of Public Works, something will wake these people up. And if you are a biker, hat situation is just AWFUL.

  15. My pet peeve? For the past 60 years every comment to the Westport police has received the same response. US 1 the posted is a state road there’s nothing we can do!

    • Arline Gertzoff

      This is correct.Try the horror show at intersection near exit 42 with the Main Street,Weston Rd,and Easton Rd.It has only gotten worse in the 63 years I have lived nearby .The town can do absolutely nothing.It is up to the state What I speak of is listed as one of the ten worst in the entire stateSet to get worse with the new townhouses on the old. Daybreak property .Of course the developer says it won’t impact traffic st all

  16. Joshua Stein

    someone needs to program the lights better on the post road. is that the town or state? its no fun waiting for a red, then making it to the next light and that turns red. waiting again, rinse and repeat. they should be timed better to allow better flow of traffic on the post road. somehow NYC which is a major complicated city for vehicular traffic has better timed traffic lights than westport.

  17. Barbara McGrath

    My pet peeve is trying to make a left turn onto the Post Rd. from Roseville Rd. I suggest a delayed green light for oncoming traffic at Hillspoint Rd. and the Post Rd.

  18. Richard Fogel

    Be careful. Slow Down. When you see a pedestrian on a sidewalk close to the street slow down. If you see a pedestrian walking incorrectly across a green light stop. Stop. Let them go. Speeding along small streets and especially at night can be dangerous. Deer, Deer, Deer, and other nature are all surrounding us. If you see a dog walker, an adult walking incorrectly with a stroller, slow down. Relax. Breath. Control yourself. It makes no difference . These are small issues that can have devastating consequences. Be careful. Go slow. Be kind. 2 wrongs do not make 1 right. Turn right. Always turn to the right. Be smart. Be kind. Be gracious.

  19. Arline Gertzoff

    Dan
    What we really need is a town wide info meeting to clarify what is local vs state responsibility.Unfair to blame local authorities for things only state can control .Something maybe coming up as state does plan on Post Rd changes. Great summary on Wilton Rd though my favorite is I am in right lane to go straight across and waiting for light and an idiot behind me cuts in front of me to go down the Wilton Rd . but it has happened to me twice in three months Luckily I am cautious and pay attention.

    • Joshua Stein

      just because the state controls it doesnt mean the local authorities shouldnt be raising concerns with the state and seeing the concerns through until fixed.

  20. Celeste Champagne

    Dan, you have stated what is my long-time pet peeve: that lanes should be marked for straight AND left turns, because neither of these can move until the light is green. Right lanes should be for right turns only, which can proceed, if safe, on red. Where are the traffic kings & queens who design these signs?

  21. To those who say nothing can be done with the Post Road as it is a State Road — you are incorrect. Many years ago, about 30 I’d say, I lived on Maple Avenue South. Trying to make a left turn from the Post Road was a nightmare. There is a slight hill at the intersection, which blocked out all the oncoming traffic so you couldn’t see whether any cars were approaching.

    I wrote to Doug Wood, the First Selectman, outlining the problem. He contacted the State Highway Department, which made some sort of study and they put in a left turn arrow in both directions. So if you’re troubled about any “impossible” intersections, etc., I suggest you do the same, instead of just complaining.

  22. Sharon Singer

    Ditto Traffic light at Bridge Square- let cars exit Rizzutos for 10-15 seconds and have a right turn signal over the Bridge the rest of the time while the cars are turning the opposite direction off the Bridge.
    The police officers already do this in rush hours and the back up and congestion from the train station is terrible. This would be such a relief.

  23. Yvonne Dougherty

    The traffic light at South Compo and Bridge St. desperately needs a left turn signal for cars trying to turn left on Bridge St. This is a nightmare. Often you wait for 3 lights to make a lefthand turn. The town added a left turn for cars turning from Bridge St. to S. Compo, but we desperately need a left turn light from S. Compo to Bridge St.