Category Archives: Transportation

Friday Flashback #181

Alert “06880” John Kelley found this map of the New York & New Haven railroad.

It’s even older than it sounds. The date was 1845.

The railroad was not completed until 1848. This was a projected route.

It was originally single tracked. A 2nd track was added soon.

The Westport station was on the east side of the Saugatuck River. The rail line merged with the New Haven & Hartford RR in 1874.

In the 1890s a major construction project created a 4-track grade separated railroad, with no rail crossings. At that point the Westport station — located on the east side of the Saugatuck River — was moved to its present location.

Starting in 1913, the rail line was electrified.

Those are all interesting facts. If you are reading them on a train — moving s-l-o-w-l-y between New York and Westport — we hope you arrive safely, and soon.

Unsung Heroes #134

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Susan Ross writes:

My unsung heros are the guys at J & J Auto. They are simply the nicest people in Westport.

They have given us years of honest kindness and helpful assistance.

They say with a smile, “don’t worry about coming in all the time so we can add air to your tires. Lots of people do!“

Once I phoned them from a college tour road trip. Our car was making noise. The local garage insisted we needed a new transmission pronto before getting on the road, or our family wouldn’t be safe.

J & J told us it sounded okay to drive home. When we got back they checked it out. Only a minor tweak was needed.

J & J Car Care on Post Road East. It’s between ASF and Pane e Bene.

Another time my son slammed the garage door, crushing my license plate. They hammered it out, reattached it in the pouring rain. They charged nothing, because “things happen.”

Now they are keeping bees behind the garage, and jars of delicious warm honey under the desk. That’s a story in itself.

(J & J Car Care Center is at 1590 Post Road East, across from the Westport Inn. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Car Thieves Strike Again

Last night and early this morning, unlocked vehicles in several Westport neighborhoods were burglarized.

Westport Police received reports from both ends of Greens Farms Road, and the Old Mill Beach area. In addition, an unlocked vehicle — with the keys in it — was stolen from the Compo Beach area.

Police expect more reports as the day goes on.

The department says:

Please let these incidents serve as a reminder that vehicle break-ins and vehicle thefts continue to occur in ours and neighboring communities at great frequency; especially in the overnight hours.

In the majority of Westport cases of vehicles being entered which resulted in thefts of goods from within, the doors were left unlocked. In almost all Westport cases of vehicles being stolen, keys were left inside an unlocked vehicle.

The vast majority of these suspects do not wish to take the time to attempt to force entry into a vehicle. This is especially true in the overnight hours, when doing so could create a significant amount of noise that would draw the unwanted attention of otherwise sleeping neighborhoods. When encountering locked vehicles, these suspects almost always simply move on to the next possible target. We therefore strongly implore our residents not to fall victim to these types of crimes.

Preventive measures taken by the community coupled with the vigilance of our officers is the key to safeguarding our neighborhoods. We ask that you please always lock your car and bring your keys inside. Please remember to take valuables out of your car for the night, such as purses, wallets and electronics, and never leave these items out in plain view within. even if the vehicle is locked.

It is also good practice to keep outside lights on and motion lights activated. Lock your residence and arm the security system, if your home is equipped with one.

We also ask that you please notify the police department if it appears that your vehicle was entered or if you should observe anything suspicious in your neighborhood. No one knows your neighborhood better than you do, and the information you provide is always vital to our crime prevention efforts.

Anyone with information about these incidents should call the detective bureau: 203-341-6080.

Today’s Entitled Parking Trick

If you finished your meal at the Sherwood Diner a few minutes ago and wanted to head out the normal way: tough luck.

Some brainiac decided that the exit lane from the main lot was a perfect spot to park.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

The car in the middle in the photo above blocked the entire exit. Everyone had to use the narrow driveway behind the diner — unless they wanted to wait for the driver to finish his or her meal.

Nothing whatsoever indicates this is a parking spot.

And please don’t say “maybe there’s a good reason for this.”

There can’t be.

All Students Safe In School Bus Crash

The Westport Fire Department, Police Department, EMS and the Norwalk Fire Department responded swiftly, after a school bus crashed into a tree on Sylvan Road North at 8:10 am this morning. The bus was en route to Kings Highway Elementary School.

The scene this morning on Sylvan Road North.

The fire department says that all students had already been removed from the bus by good Samaritans without any complaints of injury.

However, the driver of the bus was trapped by the dashboard and required extrication using hydraulic equipment, by the Westport and Norwalk Fire Departments.

Rescue work today. (Photos courtesy of Westport FIre Department)

The last fire department unit cleared the scene at 9:26. Police are investigating the accident.

The Road To Town Hall Is Paved With …

An alert “06880” reader — one whose car now regularly rattles — writes:

I love our town. I have worked here for over 50 years, and lived here almost as long.

It is sometimes said that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Why is the road to Town Hall and the Board of Education the worst paved in all of Westport?

For years, Myrtle Avenue has been the best route for me to take as I return home – for lunch and dinner – from my office. However, I now take an alternate route.

I thought that after the utility work was finished, it would be repaved. But it’s been this way for months now.

This is the road leading to Town Hall. Is this the impression we want to give visitors about our town?

Town Hall looks handsome. Myrtle Avenue in front: not so much.

Another reader wonders about a nearby street.

“The Post Road was paved nicely,” he says, referring to this fall’s work near CVS heading downtown, and the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge over the Saugatuck River.

“But what about near Main Street?” he asks. “It’s a mess.”

He’s right. From Myrtle Avenue (!) to Parker Harding Plaza, it’s rough and bumpy.

The area by Anthropologie and Tiffany is supposed to be our downtown’s crown jewel.

Instead it’s like a cheap giveaway, from the bottom of a Crackerjack box.

Pic Of The Day #1019

Finishing the retrofit on the Saugatuck River Metro-North bridge

Pic Of The Day #1016

Truck with a message, in the Barnes & Noble parking lot

Electric Vehicles: We’re #1!

We’ve all heard the statistic: There are more Teslas in Westport than anywhere else in the state.

That’s not all we lead in, electric vehicularly speaking.

According to Westport-based EV Club of CT, we top the state in the number of electric vehicles per capita. Weston, Woodbridge, New Canaan and Greenwich fill out the Top 5.

But it’s not just “per capita.” Our town registers the 3rd highest total number of EVs overall. Greenwich and Stamford are 1st and 2nd, respectively; Fairfield and West Hartford follow us.

Electric vehicles lined up by the Staples charging stations (from left): Chevy Bolt, Tesla S, VW, Tesla X, Nissan Leaf,

The club notes that over the past 6 months, registration of all types of electric vehicles has grown by 26%.

Tesla is responsible for 65% of the number — and the Model 3 accounts for 84% of that increase.

Tesla is followed by Hyundai (9%) and Toyota (6%).

For more information, click here for the EV Club’s dashboard. To learn more about the club, click here.

Here’s The State Of Westport

The state of the town is strong.

The state of our schools is too.

Those verdicts were delivered by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Board of Education chair Candice Savin yesterday.

A large, inquisitive crowd packed the Westport Library. The 3rd annual State of the Town meeting was sponsored by our 2 Rotary Clubs.

Marpe began by citing 2 newly improved facilities: the library itself, and the Senior Center.

He also mentioned that Westport has the highest life expectancy in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Our neighborhood averages range from 82 years all the way to 89 (Old Hill area). Who knew?!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s “State of the Town” meeting.

Among the 2019 accomplishments, Marpe pointed to:

  • New accessibility projects at Compo beach, and environmentally friendly turf fields
  • Wakeman Town Farm improvements
  • Sasco Brook’s de-listing from the state register of impaired waterways
  • The town’s new mobile-friendly website
  • The Police Department’s innovative technology and equipment, including increased capability to respond in a crisis, and the groundbreaking Tesla 3 patrol car
  • Improvement projects at our 2 railroad stations
  • A 7% decline in Fire Department 911 calls, in large part due to proactive efforts in schools and the construction industry

The Westport Fire Department has made a determined effort to educate Westporters about fire safety.

  • Ongoing investments to upgrade commercial properties downtown and on the Post Road
  • 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane’s leadership of improved town wayfinding
  • 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker’s leadership of the “Westport Means Business” series
  • Commitment to be a NetZero community by 2050; rebranding “Sustainable Westport”; the RTM’s legislation on replacing single-use plastics; adding new solar energy capacity; switching 1,300 street lights to LED bulbs, and a “Zero Food Waste Challenge,” which includes a free pilot program for dropping off food waste at the transfer station (beginning April 1).
  • Consolidation of police, fire and EMS public safety dispatch centers with Fairfield
  • Automating building and land use processes with the Planning & Zoning, Building, Conservation, Public Works, Health District and Fire departments.

Building in Westport is becoming easier, with enhanced communication among town bodies. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Of course, there are challenges. Marpe mentioned:

  • Traffic. He, the police and Public Works are scheduling RTM district public meetings to identify practical, realistic solutions.
  • Affordable housing. We have 3 years left on our moratorium under the 8-30g state statute.
  • The need to enhance Longshore, and other town facilities
  • Keeping the tax mill rate flat, as it has been for about 5 years. Marpe noted that financial reserves are at or ahead of “our conservative targets,” and that pension and post-employment benefit assets are “very well-funded.”

Marpe concluded his prepared remarks by noting:

Westport is and will continue to be among the most attractive towns in the tri-state area to raise a family, educate children, create and grow a business, and retire.

We are a truly rare and wonderful combination of a small, charming New England town committed to celebrating our past and preserving our history, and also a cutting-edge community that fosters innovation, creativity and progress.

Westport preserves its past and looks to the future, says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/John Videler for VIdeler Photography)

Board of Ed chair Savin said that the Westport School District is “strong, and getting stronger,” in areas like academics, arts, special education and athletics.

She noted the district’s focus on social and emotional health, safety and security — and combating vaping.

Among the challenges: reopening Coleytown Middle School, the budget, and the search for a new schools superintendent.

She said the board and community must “continue to invest in students, professionals and infrastructure.”

Board of Education chair Candice Savin’s presentation included slides like these, showing renovations to Coleytown Middle School.

Moderator Jeff Wieser then read questions from audience members.

Marpe was asked about his biggest budgetary challenge. “The capital forecast — school and town projects,” he said.

Regarding empty storefronts on Main Street, he pointed to new businesses coming in, along with “mom and mom” stores owned by local residents. He noted that the P&Z wants to improve efficiencies of town processes, and praised Regency Centers — owners of several large Westport shopping areas — for recent upgrades of their properties.

Marpe also said that the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce are working hard to attract new businesses.

Asked about the relationship with the Westport Museum for History & Culture, the 1st selectman said that the town no longer stores records there, eliminating a $7,500 storage fee. He said that although this year the town helped fund the Museum’s First Light celebration, he was “troubled” when he realized some of the money went toward employees’ salaries.

“We are working with them to recover that portion” of the funds, he said.

However, Marpe added, “the tone of a lot of comments (on ‘06880’) were not what Westport is about. It was like cyber-bullying. I appeal to residents to step back. You’re talking about people who live down the street from you.”

Regarding traffic, Marpe said the most significant impact comes from Waze. He acknowledged frustration with timing of Post Road lights, and said the town is in “regular communication” with the state Department of Transportation.

When the highways get crowed, Waze sends drivers through Westport.

As for Joey’s at the Shore, Marpe described the town’s 30-year relationship with the former beach concessionaire. He said they parted ways “without hard feelings.” An RFP has been issued for Compo, the skating rink/pool and golf course halfway house.

Seven or eight “well qualified” responses have been received. Bids will be open this week, and Marpe is optimistic that the new concessionaire will continue Joey Romeo’s “warmth, style, sensitivity and food.” He warned though that it may not be “fully operational” by the start of beach season.

In response to Board of Ed questions, Savin said that there are contingency plans in case CMS is not ready to reopen next fall; that pushing school start times back 30 minutes for all schools will be on the February 3 and February 10 agendas, and that declining enrollment is more challenging at the middle school level (because of the team approach) than in elementary schools and Staples High.

When the meeting was over, the town officials were not through. Members of the audience continued to ask questions. Marpe and Savin kept answering them.