[OPINION] “Westport’s 4 Traffic Ills Of The Apocalypse”: The Sequel

Last month, “06880” reader Ray Broady’s “06880” opinion piece — “Westport’s 4 Traffic Ills of the Apocalypse” — drew over 70 comments.

Ray is not done trying to solve our town’s traffic woes. Here’s his update. 

Last week I met with 2 town officials. I heard about their understanding of the 4 specific traffic problem locations, as well as their current plans and ideas on possible solutions.

The meeting was hosted by operations director Thomas Kiely and Officer Andy D’Amura of the Westport Police Traffic & Safety Department.

I had a chance to express how serious these problem locations have become, and how I thought these issues have not been given enough priority from local officials.

Town operations director Thomas Kiely.

They were both well versed in their understanding of these traffic problem areas. Both have very good understanding of traffic issues. Thomas Kiely spent 16 years as a State Police highway patrol officer, while Officer D’Amura has been involved with traffic problems for many years in Westport.

It was obvious these 2 men felt strongly that they as well as the community want to see solutions and action.

They pointed out the big stumbling block is that all 4 of the problem areas I brought forward are on state highways. The Department of Transportation controls all planning, changes, funding and ultimate approval of any projects the town and state would like implemented.

State DOT has a lot of roads and highways on their workbench. Westport’s requests for consideration are on a long list of projects to be addressed by DOT.

Kiely and D’Amura went over some changes and improvements in the pipeline for implementation and action.

I think these changes will produce a small improvement in Saugatuck traffic congestion, but a bigger benefit at the new roundabout Weston Road – Easton Road intersection.

The Westport Police Department has a plan to place trained traffic control officers at the Riverside Avenue/Bridge Street intersection on morning and evening commute hours, as well as doing more traffic officer control at the Route 33 (Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road)/Post Road West intersection, and its commute hour massive congestion.

We also discussed the importance of traffic signal optimization on the entire Westport section of the Post Road, and the 3 other areas (including Wilton Road/Kings Highway North).

Traffic at the Kings Highway North/Wilton Road intersection …

It is obvious that unless officials in Westport and the state come together with greater timing and vigor, the traffic problems we now suffer in Westport will continue to grow — and become a larger set of problems.

A day later I had a productive meeting with State Representative Jonathan Steinberg. He reached out after reading my opinion piece on “06880.”

We discussed the same areas of concern, as well as possible action he and I can move forward on to address making these issues a higher priority for the town.

Steinberg is a longtime Westport resident. He has been affected by these traffic problem issues, and has a great understanding of state agencies for how problems like ours are identified and dealt with.

… and, not far away, the Wilton Road/Riverside Avenue/Post Road West cluster****.

It’s very important for residents and businesses of Westport to realize that unless we can bring town and state officials, and DOT, into new action and priorities, the solutions we seek will just stay a “kick the can down the street”problem.

I want Westport residents and businesses to know I am committed to continuing to interface with any officials and interested individuals to “push and shove” this town into better traffic flow.

I have received a few emails from town residents who wish to help and contribute to this action effort. I would love to hear from others additional who want to join the effort. My email is reelray@msn.com.

(“06880” will continue to report on Westport’s transportation issues — and all other concerns in town. but we need your help. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

16 responses to “[OPINION] “Westport’s 4 Traffic Ills Of The Apocalypse”: The Sequel

  1. Ray: Thanks for your efforts! It seems that these apocalyptic issues are not limited to heavy commuting hours. How is the need for “traffic enforcement officers” monitored? Does anyone know?

  2. Priscilla Hawk

    We hope they are not still planning to take down some older buildings in the Saugatuck area , construct larger ones to replace them, and have boats take tourists for “fun rides” from behind these buildings to downtown Westport. Please say it isn’t so!

  3. Thanks, Ray, I applaud your efforts to get needed state DOT cooperation to help decrease traffic congestion in Westport. Yes, it is often a nightmare.

    One thing I don’t hear talk about? Personal responsibility. Traffic is always someone else’s fault, isn’t it?

    How many of the car rides we take each day are truly essential? How many Westport parents drive their kids to school rather than sending them off to the bus stop? How many trips are simply to get a latte at Starbuck’s? Or you forgot that one thing at CVS? Or because “I just need to get out of the house”?

    Many mornings I ride my bike to the train station; there are rarely as many as 10 bikes in the racks. How many 06880 commuters have ever taken the Westport Wheels2U transit bus? Who carpools? Nine out of 10 cars I pass on my way to the station are single drivers.

    I’m willing to bet that fully half of our daily car trips are in no way “necessary.” Leaving aside the occasional Waze-induced traffic jam, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was half as much traffic on our local roads?

    So Westporters, next time you’re stuck in traffic, take a look in the rear-view mirror. We all share responsibility for why our local traffic is a mess, and we all can be part of the solution.

    • The school start times were pushed back 2 years ago which has had a massive impact on traffic.
      Not only do you have elementary school busses running 3:45-4:45 PM, you now ALSO have the parents who are forced to pick kids up from school to drive them straight to after school sports since the dismissal is now 30 minutes later (since the bus would drop them off at home too late to turn around and drive to the activity).
      It has now doubled the traffic since the busses run no matter how many children are actually ON the bus.

  4. Absent any new streets and roads, adding one or two “trained (!) traffic control officers” around town, or pleading into the State DOT abyss, will barely be a loose band-aid unable to keep up with the inexorable residential densification of Fairfield County sponsored by…our State Legislature.

  5. Sheila Merrill Vesciglio

    Westport wasn’t like this when I grew up there. It’s become a mini Manhattan. Progress is supposed to be for the better – there’s nothing “better” about this. I miss my hometown – this isn’t it :/

  6. Eric Buchroeder

    Time for Jen and Foto (that’s his new Delta Tau Chi name I only had to change one letter) to step up to the plate.

  7. Celeste Champagne

    Kudos to Ray Broady for taking interest in the massive problems at hand with Westport traffic & attempting to do something about it.

  8. I think someone once gave a reason why there is no left hand turn signal from compo road onto bridge street but I can’t remember what it was.
    Sometimes only one car gets through. I have waited through four or five lights at times.

  9. Jennifer Johnson

    If traffic is such a priority, then why is First Selectwoman Tooker slow-walking the $540K grant Westport received last February under the Safe Streets for All (SS4A) grant program?? Westport can move fast when the First Selectwoman makes it a priority….like fixing the “groin” at Burying Hill Beach. But we fixed the “groin” in pretty much less time than it’s taken to even issue an RFP for a “study”. Really, if our “apocalyptic” traffic woes don’t rank as high as topics like the fixing the “groin” (which I agree needed to be done) then what is her priority? Dabbling in foreign policy?

    When it comes to our traffic and transportation woes, it’s so much easier to just “blame the state”. But even that sounds shallow if our chief elected town official hasn’t prioritized meeting with our elected State representatives in the eight months since the election.

    Westport could be a leader when it comes to innovative solutions for providing safe transportation alternatives, but under our current leadership we’re definitely not.

  10. John D McCarthy

    Ray, thanks for your focus. While I agree that many of the issues are around state roads, the town of Westport is about to inflict a fatal self-wound by closing down the cut through road of Parker Harding. Downtown Traffic will all now have to squeeze through Myrtle and the few other ways out of town. Onto Kings Highway, and Imperial, etc. And when that happens, the 1st Selectwoman and the Police and traffic specialists, who deny this will be a problem, will be to blame. Not Hartford.

  11. Eric Buchroeder

    Fortunately, our first Selectwoman and the chief of police are the best in the business. They have an excellent relationship and will very quickly resolve these issues.

  12. Michael Vitelli

    Thankful to Ray and all focusing on the problem.

    I spent most of my life driving in Brooklyn & then NJ. One thing very different here in CT and Westport (we’ve been here 5 yrs.) is how many people approach left turns. Admittedly, I am not aware of any specific laws that are or or against what I am respectfully outlining below.

    Few Westport roads have left turn lanes and fewer have left turn signals. Regardless, and more often than not, if I am behind a driver signaling to make a left turn, the light turns green and the turning driver waits in place – not moving forward at all – until the light turns yellow, allowing only their one car through the intersection. Everyone else (5+ deep) waits for the next light change. In just a few light changes, we can easily have 10-15 cars lined up.

    How I was taught, used my whole driving life, and still do is, if I am signaling to making a left turn, I enter the intersection half way, taking care to keep my wheels straight and not veer into the oncoming lane. This allows cars behind me to continue straight or turn right while I am waiting to turn left. This can allow several cars might make it through an intersection, maybe even an extra left turner or two. The few times I’ve been on Weston/Post/Riverside and Riverside/Bridge St when officer-directed, the officers themselves are gesticulating similar instructions.

    Without this approach to managing left turns, changing all lights to be traffic-sensor based, and/or turning all/most busy intersections into roundabouts (which will require surely require roundabout right-of-way training), it will be difficult to succeed in decreasing traffic jams.

    • Dermot Meuchner

      If you’ve driven in Brooklyn you can drive anywhere. And Michael is correct, pull straight up and let drivers behind you to make a right turn or go straight.

  13. Enforcement

  14. Michael Smith

    I applaud Ray Broady for calling attention. And I’m sure that the problem areas linked to a state road adds complexity.

    But what is a solution? What work has been done by these elected officials, Tooker, Steinberg and town employees, Kiely and D’Amura?

    I drive through 2 of the 4 “apocalypse” intersections every day and I can offer 2 opinions that would help. 1) The light for northbound traffic at the intersection of the Riverside ave split at Treadwell should be far longer. 2) The exact same for the northbound light at Canal and Main street.

    And while Dan Wood is providing ANOTHER great service to bring awareness, we’re going to need way more than 100 comments on 06880 to fix this.

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