Westport may not be able to solve every traffic problem by ourselves.
We need help from the state — synchronizing Post Road lights, for example.
It would be nice if Waze could rejigger its algorithms, so the slightest fender-bender on I-95 or the Merritt does not send highway drivers onto local streets.
But we’re not blameless.
There are things Westporters can do to alleviate traffic congestion and stress. We don’t help matters, with our aggressive, me-first driving styles and attitudes.
You know who you are, and chances are you’re not going to change.
But here’s one simple tweak that could go a long way toward making traffic flow more smoothly. It comes from Jimmy Izzo, the RTM member and native Westporter who has spent decades living in, watching and wondering about the town he loves.
Jimmy says: “Observe the yellow light.”
That’s right. When the traffic light turns amber: Stop.
Don’t speed up. Don’t try to beat it. Just put on the brakes, and wait for red, then green.
Think about it. How many times have you seen (or been the driver of) a car that has just come over the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (Post Road) bridge downtown. You floor it on yellow, trying to turn left onto Riverside.
But you get stuck in the intersection. Every car on Riverside and Wilton Road, turning and heading toward town, has to maneuver around you. By the time it’s all sorted out, another cycle of traffic has backed up on all 4 corners.
It works the other way too. Drivers turning left from Wilton Road, and right from Riverside, who try to beat the yellow cause similar chaos.
Or consider the Compo Shopping Center (CVS)/Compo Acres (Trader Joe’s) cluster****. You come down the hill in front of Gold’s. You try to make the yellow light. You stop smack in the middle of the CVS exit. No one moves — though cars try desperately to maneuver around you. Meanwhile, the CVS/Gold’s lots get even more crowded.
Westporters treat yellow lights like greens, Jimmy says. In fact, they’re closer to red.
Believe it or not, stopping at yellows might actually make traffic flow more easily when the red turns to green.
And drivers wouldn’t have to resort to such colorful language all the time, either.