[OPINION] North Avenue Speedway Needs Attention

Carl Swanson and Jo Ann Miller live off North Avenue, not far from Bedford Middle School.

Though it’s a school zone — and there’s another one, Staples High, just over the hill — drivers often treat it as a race way. Carl writes:

After several of us tried to get something implemented to slow drivers on North Avenue for years, several solar radar speed monitors were installed in late fall of 2022.

I first suggested blinking “5 mph” signals near all 4 schools on North Avenue.  You posted my concerns on “06880,” and it gained some traction.

I even got a bid from a California outfit. It would have cost a total of $38,000 for all 4 schools.

Instead, the town installed solar monitors. A 2015 national study showed that these devices slow vehicles only by 1% to 11% mph, hardly adequate for the North Avenue speedway.

Solar-powered speed monitor on North Avenue. (Photo/Carl Addison Swanson)

In fact, the monitors did little to slow down anything for many residents waiting for school buses.

In December 2022, one monitor stopped working. An engineer looked at it, and said because it was situated under a forest of trees it was not getting enough sun to fuel its purpose. The police said they could not get parts to fix the monitor.

Then the officer in charge had health issues, and the issue went to the back burner. Upon his return, he emailed me that he was aware of the situation and had assigned police officers to patrol North Avenue on a regular basis.

That has not been done, or it has not worked.

There is a growing sentiment among long time Westport residents that the present administration is more concerned about showing off our downtown and schools than taking care of the safety of its residents.

One obstacle, told to me by a police officer, is that all the revenue from speeding tickets goes to the State of Connecticut. That would suggest there is no incentive to stop and give tickets.

I run down North Avenue every day, and have never seen a car pulled over by a cop.

We are forming a coalition to deal with some of these issues. for I can’t get any feedback or game plan from the selectperson’s office or my RTM representative.  Yet, they just authorized $200,000 for a “study” of the intersections of North Avenue at Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane.

Some remember 2 children killed at Reimer at North Avenue decades ago by a speeding out of control driver.

Will it take another tragedy to wake up an administration? I hope it isn’t your child.

I asked Police Chief Foti Koskinas for a comment. He said he is aware of the problem, and is waiting for replacement parts. Even under warranty, they are not readily available.

30 responses to “[OPINION] North Avenue Speedway Needs Attention

  1. Rumble strips? Speed bumps?

  2. People drive too fast People text and drive. Cars are heavier and faster. I cannot understand why people need such powerful high performance cars. It’s insane

    • Because they’re fun. You guys probably see someone going 40mph and get nuts. Move over.

      • Have you ever had the experience of driving on Compo.Road. Roseville Road observing the speed limit plus a bit faster and behind you is a car tailgating you pushing to go faster and faster?? What is going on that people are driving so fast ? So aggressive ? Some may even enter the opposite lane and dangerously pass One day a convertible will hit a deer and the deer end up in the back seat.

  3. John D McCarthy

    Such patriotism warms the heart.

  4. What about speed bumps? They’re annoying but they do the trick. Kings Highway South has several, why not North Avenue ?

  5. Hi Carl and I am on rtm and on transit of that rtm please reach out to us I would like to hold a committee hearing yes my please contact me today Dan has my email or contact me from the town I am very sorry I don’t get any questions ask a lot lately from sal liccione district 9 member transit and public protection thanks for doing this always speak out o no you tried to contact town hall. They only talk to Dan Woog

  6. Cristina Negrin

    Back in the 60’s there was a police car parked at the bottom of the hill (approx) where Bedford is now. That sure worked and he wrote a lot of tickets too

  7. Yes, Speed humps, especially if they don’t interfere with snow maintenance. Stop lights and stop signs also assist traffic calming. Cameras in conjunction with radar will nail any speeder. A hefty fine and a DMV record has turned many a driver into a Saint. Still, The priority is human life safety.

  8. The four way stop at North Avenue and Easton Road is a death trap as many cars coming from Easton never stop there. If we have a police car there it might help. Something needs to be done.

  9. Richard Johnson

    The suggestion by “long time” Westporters that it’s younger, newer residents responsible for the lack of road safety is interesting. Some of the most dangerous driving I’ve see in town has been by people with white hair who’ve probably lived here 40+ years. And I’m confident that when today’s old-timers moved here in the 80s and 90s, “long time” Westport residents made similar complaints about them. Are we really sure everyone drove 25mph (and not a tick over) down North Ave back then, or are we engaging in some hagiography? I note this post mentions one traffic fatality that occurred not recently, but back in the “good old days.”

    It’s younger residents who have children waiting at bus stops and attending this school. I’d suggest letting their voices be heard on this issue, rather than playing the blame game.

  10. Hammer it with enforcement. Run radar up and down North Ave. It’s called education thru enforcement. I see last week there were 14 traffic (movers) arrests. 14? Do the Police no longer enforce traffic laws? Quite honestly 14 in a week is a joke.

  11. Andrew Colabella

    Constant enforcement and police presence cures it. Speed bumps will impact response time of emergency service vehicles. Speeders will either
    A.) maintain speed and continue risking damaging their vehicle
    B.) slow down, hit the speed bump, and accelerate back to their prior speed
    C.) will maneuver at a diagonal angle or use the curb/bump line to decrease the impact of the speed bump to not have to slow down.

    To Mr. Dave Eason’s comment, sitting on roads such as North Ave, Long Lots, Roseville, Compo Road North/South, Greens Farms, Bayberry, are all main speed throughways. I would imagine in a town of 28,000 residents and double that number of visitors and people driving through, the number would be higher (and should be).

    People do slow down when they see a cop car. It does work.

    If you would like to see patrolling in your area, click this link!


    The resources are there, use them! 😃

  12. Hi all – I’m a District 5 RTM Rep, an 8 year resident of Westport, and on the RTM Traffic committee with Sal. The Administration HAS prioritized traffic and traffic safety. I spoke at my District Traffic meeting, as did many. Our concerns have been reflected in the recent report. There is no “easy button” to press here – the issue is complicated. As it regards speeding, my personal (perhaps pessimistic) view is that the only meaningful penalty for speeding (just one of many issues, here) is a fine. I don’t care if the State gets the $, if we get the benefit of increased safety. Carl and Jo Ann please feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to work with you or just have a conversation.

  13. People have a right to drive muscle cars if they want so long as they obey the traffic laws. Speed limits should be set at reasonable levels and then enforced rigorously.

    Speed bumps on North Avenue are a bad idea in my opinion because they punish everybody – they’re annoying to drive over even at slow speeds.

    Word would get around quickly if tickets were being handed out routinely and that would solve the problem. However, then our town would bear the cost of stepped-up police presence. I had no idea that revenue from traffic tickets was funneling up to Hartford – that’s what’s wrong. State bureaucrats are happy to grab our tax dollars but have no incentive to worry about our local problems!

  14. I live right off the corner of Long Lots and North Ave so I drive North Ave in that area many times multiple times a day. What I want to bring up is the MASSIVE NEGATIVE AFFECT of the vehicle re-routing of “WAZE” !!. Even though Waze is a usefull and sometimes a helpful driving app., but in certain cases like the re-routing is does on. I95 and the Merritt Parkway in peak traffic commute hours create a huge traffic volume increase on Cross Highway and then onto Roseville Road and North Ave. These Waze (CRAZE) drivers are already frustrated by ominous bumper to congestion problems on i95 & the Merritt so when the App puts them off at the I95 Southport & Sherwood connector or the Merritt Westport exit 42 many are routed of at Weston Rd to Cross Highway and either Roseville or North Ave and they SPEED to make up their lost time on all these streets and create backups at all the existing stop sign intersections!

    I think most residents and many visitors usually drive at about 30 -35 mph.on these streets in good weather and hopefully a little slower in ice and snow conditions.

    1. As some have mentioned, effective radar enforcement at key areas on these streets on a un-announced random basis.
    2. Have Staples High School issue written or emailed notices that the residents and Town will not tolerate students or parents speeding on these surrounding streets! Tickets really increase vehicle insurance and driving privilage issues for young drivers!
    IF THE RESIDENTS “BITE” THE BULLET !! AND ALLOW THE TOWN TO PUT IN PLACE A FEW CHOICE ADDITIONAL STOP SIGN LOCATIONS, the slow down of the Waze traffic will recalculate higher drive times for this redirection and a lot less traffic will end up at commute hours on these streets.

    3. This is the “BIG ONE”.
    Their are many remotely controlled slow speed signs by many schools now that activate at a couple of hours in mornings and afternoons as students arrive at and leave schools daily. This same system could mount LED button lighted STOP SIGNS AT A COUPLE OF KEY INTERSECTIONS that would activate lets say at 7 am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm weekdays only.
    The key intersections I think would help would be the Staples High School main entrance and the intersection of Roseville and Walker street both directions of Roseville. This system I belive will disrupt Waze timing enough coupled with some radar enforcement at similar times to affect Waze speeders enough to offset this added traffic flows and speeding
    Drivers who will be forced to slow down and shift their redirection choices.

    I know there is going to be a lot of “flak” over this last #3 idea but I as a directly affected resident who lives in this neighbor hood. I am willing to add a few more minutes to my daily drives to help make these neighborhoods and fellow residents and youngsters SAFE!

  15. Carl and Jo Ann are on target.

    The evidence is easy to see. The speed limit is 25 mph. Try driving at 30 mph on North and watch the cars pile up behind you.

    Here are five additional suggestions:
    1) Reduce the official speed limit to 20 mph.

    2) Install a radar-driven camera that takes photos of speeders. Issue tickets based on the photos.

    3) Park a de-commissioned, but un-manned, patrol car at several points on North. Add a decommissioned radar pod. Turn on the red and blue lights.

    4) Strip the smooth asphalt off of North as preparation for re-paving, and then defer the repaving.

    5) Get our state reps to change the law so speeding ticked revenues come back to the town to fund enforcement.

    Can we solve this problem?

    When the New York City School Board was stumped on improving the city’s schools, one Board member noted, “Every inefficiency has a sponsor.”

    Who is sponsoring the speeders on North Avenue?

  16. Now it’s becoming unclear how dire the situation really is. If so, wouldn’t the Police Chief be directly involved by making sure school zones are safe? Is there a shortage of officers in the town? Maybe this problem, if it really is one, should take precedence over features on CNN with Alisyn Camerota.

  17. Douglas Kniffen, some good ideas in your post notably 3 & 5. Items 1 & 4 are a bit absurd and I guess a bit of dry humor? As for Item #2 I believe unattended radar enforcement is against the law in most states because it requires daily calibration to be accepted in a court of law.

    Mary McCallum, I am sorry if you think just because Alisyn Camerota lives in Westport you think CNN is going to allow her to take up our Town issues on their advertising funded, ratings driven opinion rag on national TV you are possibly under CNN’s spell? Snap out of it! You and other concerned residents of our Town can solve these issues by ourselves.

    Let’s face it Westport has grown and the traffic and its problems have grown exponentially. We need more traffic enforcement officers so let us try and make sure the Chief and the Town hire them! They work for us!

    • Exactly. More traffic enforcement officers seem to be needed (or a Chinese spy balloon). Isn’t that the Chief’s job? As far as CNN’s profile on the Chief, it was advertised here on this bulletin board last year.

  18. Maybe they should narrow North Avenue, having a medium between the street and the sidewalk.

  19. I am a homeowner on Easton Road and frequently walk on North Avenue by Coleytown Middle School. Many cars travel this last stretch of the road at a very high rate of speed in both directions. And not everyone observes the 4-way stop intersection. The problem gets worse and worse each year. It amazes me that a serious accident hasn’t occurred on this stretch. Easton Road is no picnic either the past five years.

  20. I live on Easton and the cars driving that road are very aggressive. Ive even seen them drive around school buses that have stop signs. I drive the speed limit and slow down to get in my driveway and other cars tailgate me and honk just my turning into my driveway.

  21. Nice response from concerned citizens. My husband has worked hard on this project for years without little response. Woog rules! I will respond to the Police Chief’s excuse. The WPD has plenty of signs. At the beginning of the school year, 9/22, they placed one at Twin Circle @ North Avenue and it worked great. So “waiting for parts” is sort of lame.

  22. Why can’t a speed camera be used on North Avenue? The camera captures the speed violation and issues a ticket to the registered owner. If the ticket goes unpaid, the registered owner of the vehicle gets a citation for court or whatever consequence is appropriate.Why aren’t there speed / stop sign, etc. cameras in Westport’s high-speed / high-accident areas? They seem like a good investment whose cost will be offset by the citations.

  23. Relax everyone a new study has just been approved and the vault holding previous studies.is filled to capacity. So, this study may land on someone’s desk!

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