Traffic Safety: Someone Is Listening

Everyone* complains about traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Someone is listening.

Actually, several someones.

Every Thursday this spring, there’s a public meeting at Town Hall. Members of the Police, Public Works and Planning & Zoning Departments set up a mic, then listen as the public provides input about the worst spots, and (sometimes) suggests fixes.

The meetings are organized by RTM district, so the focus is hyperlocal.

This past Thursday, I went to my own District 9 meeting. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas were in the audience, along with our 4 Representative Town Meeting members.

RTM District 9 member Kristin Schneeman addressed the traffic and safety meeting. In the row next to her are fellow RTM reps Nancy Kail, Lori Church and Sal Liccione.

With the Post Road, Route 136 and 33, several major roads and the Saugatuck River crisscrossing our district, we have special challenges.**

Residents described issues with traffic lights, lack of sidewalks (North Compo), speeding drivers (and boaters), noise, and not enough police enforcement

As each speaker mentioned an area, Google Street View showed the problem on a big screen.

When a speaker mentioned safety issues on North Compo Road, members of the Police, Public Works and Planning & Zoning Departments listened — and looked. 

Solutions are not easy. Many District 9 roads — and others throughout Westport — are controlled by the state. Something as simple signage and changing traffic light cycles takes time; adding sidewalks involves taking private property and knocking down retaining walls. Town and state funds are limited.

But town officials were attentive. They took notes. They answered questions.

And — when possible — they offered immediate solutions. If vegetations obscures a sign or inhibits sight lines, for example, call Police or Public Works. They’ll take care of it.

“Thanks for active listening,” one District 9 resident said. Her neighbors nodded in agreement.

Three meetings remain. All begin at 7 p.m., in the Town Hall auditorium. Click here for a map of RTM districts. 

  • District 2: May 5
  • District 3: May 12
  • District 5: May 19

*Including some of the worst offenders.

** I know, I know. Every other RTM district is special too.

5 responses to “Traffic Safety: Someone Is Listening

  1. Susan Iseman

    Thanks for the write up. Dan. I live in District 9 as well & wish I could have attended. Will there be a summary available and what if any solutions will be implemented?

  2. Werner Liepolt

    Hard to remember or prioritize, but well worth attending. The public face-to-face allows residents and town officials to air and address problems before they fester (well, maybe some of those problems have been festering for a while).

    For instance, sidewalks: now I know that side walking RT 136 would involve the state’s taking 50 ft of front lawn on everyone’s property in order to adjust grade, improve sight lines and install compliant walkways.

    I also got to express the need I and many neighbors feel for improved (meaning ANY) sound barriers along I-95.

  3. District 9 might be special in the sense that we recently choose to make traffic worse by closing Church Lane then, afterwards, held a meeting to discuss said traffic. Events like this are fine as they give taxpayers the feeling that their opinions matter. It’s just unfortunate that the RTM 9 reps who helped organize the latter didn’t say a word at two earlier public meetings when doing so would have been appropriate and possibly effective.

    • Morley — Whatever traffic impact the closing of Church Lane may have caused (I suspect it is minor) is far outweighed by the added energy and foot traffic along the lane in the heart of downtown. I’m sure the local restaurants, businesses and many residents wholeheartedly agree.

      • Oh don’t worry, downtown residents know very well where they stand. It’s important that others’ pleasure take priority over anything else – like my ability to take a left out of my street.

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