Compo Shopping Center: “06880” Readers Drive The Discussion

We may not be able to solve the COVID crisis. We can’t agree on where to put affordable housing, or what to do with trees on private property.

But together, we can fix one of Westport’s gravest threats: the Compo Shopping Center parking lot.

Yesterday, I asked for ideas about the clusterf*** that confounds us all. It is — as readers repeatedly report — a death trap. An embarrassment. And (this should get everyone’s attention) a detriment to business.

You did not disappoint. Ideas poured in — plus aerial photos, complete with arrows and Xs.

Sure, it’s the last day of the year. You’re distracted with New Year’s preparations, deciding which sweatpants to wear as you sit home tonight.

But I want to make sure that some of the best solutions don’t get buried in the Comments section. So here’s a summary of what you said.

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Evan Stein has a thorough solution — with a diagram:

Evan suggests: Close all connections from the rear parking lot to the front. Re-stripe the lots, for angled parking.

Divide the lot with a barrier (giant planters with trees or shrubbery) into a south lot and a north lot. Each would have one entrance, and one exit. Enter the south lot from the south. Enter the north lot from the north.

Each lot exit would have an independent traffic light. The exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s) would also have its own traffic light. There would be a 5-light cycle:
• South lot green
• North lot green
• Compo acres green
• Route 1 green (no turning allowed)
• Pedestrian crossing.

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Elizabeth Thibault likes Evan’s idea, but notes that Post Road traffic frequently blocks the light at CVS. She’d make the lights one way, going into the plaza and then flowing out the back. If that doesn’t work, at least paint a giant box in front, and ticket drivers for blocking the entrance.

Elizabeth has a more radical suggestion: Remodel each business, making the main entrances in the rear. She’d keep the glass windows and displays on the Post Road side, to attract drivers, but would make the store layouts favor back entry.

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Doug Kniffin offers 4 fixes, from easiest to most difficult:

Adjust the CVS-adjacent traffic signal for 3 separate phases: a) Post Road both directions; b) CVS lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west; c) Trader Joe’s lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west.

Paint solid yellow lines down the center of the parking lots in front of CVS and Gold’s Little Kitchen. This will help keep drivers on the “right” side of the lot.

Change the exit ramp next to Cohen’s Optical from exit-only to entry-only.  The exit ramp now is useless. A new parking lot entry will reduce traffic going into the entry further west, at the traffic light.

Take space from the north end of the People’s Bank parking lot; create entry/exit access lanes between the back of the Compo Shopping lot and North Compo Road. People’s rarely uses this space, but an exit/entry there will reduce the traffic traveling through the front lots.

Here’s Doug’s diagram, with every option marked:

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Beth Berkowitz suggests angled parking too. That makes it harder for 2-way traffic to imperil drivers.

She’d also make the spaces closest to the road parallel parking — not head-in — and would turn the entrance/exit in front of CVS into entrance only. Traffic could exit only through the south (North Compo) end, or the back lot.

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Wendy Crowther has one simple, quick fix: Eliminate the parking spaces that encroach upon the lot’s main entrance/exit, as well as those near the center driveway that passes between the 2 buildings. This would allow drivers to enter and exit the lot without the hassle of cars trying to pull in and out of those spaces.

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There you have it: Westporters’ ideas for fixing a seemingly intractable traffic nightmare.

Coming soon: the Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road debacle.

13 responses to “Compo Shopping Center: “06880” Readers Drive The Discussion

  1. Sandra Rothenberg

    While you’re at it can we talk about the Compo Rd South entrance to Trader Joe’s shopping center near Row House?? What can be done so exiting cars can’t make a left onto Compo Rd south, crossing double yellow line? And from cars entering left turn on Compo Rd south into parking lot??

  2. Any chance we could tackle the Easton Road/Main Street and Weston Road at Daybreak nightmare intersection? I’ve been told it’s the state’s responsibility so let’s put some pressure on before someone dies playing ‘dodgems’ at that intersection.

  3. That first suggestion and diagram is wrong for many reason

  4. Peter M
    The first suggestion may be “wrong” but all of them show that with a little thought multiple people , who are not traffic planners, have come up with solutions that are better than the cluster that is there now.

    Surely we can learn from the other cluster that has traffic stopped on the Post Road – i.e. Starbucks and not repeat it here.

    Who in the Town needs to be reading this commentary and actually thinking about a solution instead of granting approval to a business that is just going to make things worse…?

  5. Here’s a prediction for ’22: NOTHING will be done to improve the Compo lot….nothing.

  6. I agree nothing will be done.. and these suggestions are without much thought. How does someone suggest to enter the lot to the left if cvs? There is a needed left turn lane into s Compo there! I agree it is a bad situation. Entering from post road from traveling west down that hill to pass Golds deli is an accident waiting for the first speeder. And it will happen!

  7. Douglas Kniffin

    All good thoughts. Dan’s prediction raises the question: Who can make which decisions? We need to know this in order to know where to focus a change strategy.

  8. I believe that the town cannot make any changes to traffic lights or US1 road patterns. Could someone from the town management comment on this.

    We may all remember that a turn lane arrow was placed at US1 South and Imperial Avenue. When I asked the town to eliminate this since it made no sense, I was told that they had no power to do this because this was US1 and the town doesn’t control that. It was changed but not by the town.

    So when considering all the changes to the light system and traffic patterns on US1, I don’t think the town management can do this by themselves.

    The internal usage of the parking lot is up to the owners and may require town approval.

    So can someone clarify this?

    Also, Happy New Year and may the New Year bring much hope and happiness.

  9. You got it, Bob. State does the lights, Compo owners do the lot thus, as predicted, nothing will be done…state bogged down in more important things and Compo owners don’t give a shit. Plain and simple.

  10. Arline Gertzoff

    A lot of interesting suggestions many of which the state would have to undertake The key factor of course is the money needed to make even the simplest change .The worst for me is the bizarre intersection of the Easton and Weston Rd.It is on the states to do list but was postponed a few years
    back to improve the Clinton Ave and Compo North and Post Road
    IntersectionsThe state wanted to do all at once but the town rejected that as it would have created a worse nightmare
    Dunkin’s moving and Mumbai closing are related to the plans owner of strip has for a facelift or more of the complex.In the meantime it would help if people slowed down and drove less aggressively There are a lot of older drivers out there too.

  11. Just wondering if anyone has thought about what the current tenants of that Compo Shopping Center think. The lovely people at Gold’s or CVS perhaps?
    Presumably they witness/encounter various driving/parking scenarios throughout the day and week, and have opinions on what they see that works and what needs improvement.

  12. Or, like we do everything else, let the free market deal with it! Don’t like the parking lot? Don’t go to business in that shopping center. There are other places to get coffee, pizza, pharmacy, etc. Eventually they’ll have to adapt!

    Yes I know this won’t work, but if we are willing to apply it to everything else and watch it fail, why not parking lots?

  13. Open the ramp near Cohen’s optical. Make it two ways
    by widening the ramp. Allow exit onto compo rd.
    Or the other direction. Widen the main driveway
    opening. Have a longer turning light. Enforce block
    the box with a camera and ticket. Clean up the back
    parking area by allowing truck unloading near the store
    rear entrance. Enforce all the traffic laws.

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