Category Archives: Transportation

Pic Of The Day #1004

Sunset over Saugatuck (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

New Parking Spots Ease Railroad Station Crunch

It’s easy to commute on auto-pilot. But over the past few months, alert commuters have noticed activity at the west end of the Greens Farms railroad station.

Workers cleared brush, and removed old equipment. “06880” reader Scott Smith figured they were creating a staging area for the forthcoming replacement of the Beachside Avenue bridge.

But now there are new, striped spaces. The addition to the lot looks permanent.

New parking spaces at the Greens Farms railroad station.

It is.

Police chief Foti Koskinas — whose department oversees railroad parking operations and facilities — says that while part of that area will indeed be staging. the town has added 54 new parking spots there. Twenty-four are for permit holders; 30 are for daily parkers.

Koskinas says the town took advantage of the upcoming bridge work to add to their long-term lease with the state.

The new parking spaces will be available later this coming week. For safety reasons, the Police Department is waiting until permanent lights are installed.

Another angle showing the new spots. This view is looking east. (Photos/Scott Smith)

Greens Farms is not the only rail station in town with added parking. Koskinas says that 17 new permit-only spots have been added on Franklin Street, near Lot 7 (the one just north of the I-95 overpass) and Lot 3 (the big lot on Ferry Lane, south of the tracks).

Feedback from commuters has been great, Koskinas says. And that’s just from those who were alert enough to notice them.

(Click here for a map of the all parking lots at the Saugatuck train station.)

Biking Into 2020

Bicycle safety is not a new topic. 

But we’re entering a new year (and decade). Alert — and worried — “06880” reader Angela Ryan sends these thoughts. As we turn the calendar page, let’s pledge new behaviors on our roads too.

Angela writes:

My husband came home from work today shaking. This has happened several times a year for the past 10 years.

He commutes by bike to the train, for his job in New York.

He is a conscientious rider. He stops at lights and stop signs, and uses hand signals. He is very visible, with lights on the front and back of his bike.

Yet he is repeatedly harassed by drivers. Vehicles speed past him at aggressive speed because he rides between parked cars and the lane of traffic.

Drivers shout obscenities at him, and honk because they have to yield to him on a turn. Vehicles race past him approaching the light in front of Dunkin’ Donuts at the end of the Cribari Bridge, just to be stopped when the light turns read.

He is doing nothing wrong. In fact, he is helping the town and environment by riding his bike. He is freeing up space at the railroad parking lot for another commuter to use.

I wish that commuters (and bikers) would remember basic rules of the road:

1. Bicycles have a right to be on the road.
2. Bikers must be visible to drivers, and use hand signals to communicate their intentions.
3. Bikers must stop at stop signs and stop lights, just like drivers.
4. Drivers must allow 3 feet when passing bikers. They cannot pass a biker and make a right turn unless it is safe for the biker.
5. Bikers must drive on the right side of the road (except for certain circumstances).
6. Bikers are allowed to ride two abreast, but not more.
7. A “vulnerable user law” states that people who drive a car and use reasonable care, but still cause the death or injury of a vulnerable user (like a biker) can be fined.
8. There is no room to pass a biker on the Cribar Bridge. So there is no need to yell obscenities at my husband if he rides in the middle of the lane. He has nowhere else to go.

I know people are passionate about whether or not we should make biking easier in Westport. All I can say is that the gains communities see in expanding biking far outweigh what they lose.

Although I would be happy to see biking expanded in Westport for the greater good of us all, this is not why I am writing. I just ask that drivers be reasonable and patient to riders, especially those who adhere to all the rules of the road.

They have as much right to be on the road as you.

Pics Of The Day #992

Westport train station, in today’s fog … (Photo/Rose Porosoff)

… and Birchwood Country Club (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Post Road Lights Out Of Sync? Who You Gonna Call?

It’s frustrating enough to drive on the Post Road, and realize how out-of-sync the traffic lights are.

It’s even more frustrating to call Town Hall to complain, and be told: “Sorry. We can’t do anything. It’s a state road.”

Alert “06880” reader Josh Stein shares your frustration. Now he shares something else: a possible solution.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation offers an online form to report road issues.

The worst light in town? …

Some of the dropdown categories include mowing, illumination, potholes and dead animals.

But there — right in the middle of the menu — is “Traffic Signal Revisions.”

Click here for the form.

And remember: It’s not just the Post Road (Route 1) that’s a state road. Click here for a map showing all the others in town (they’re green).

There’s no guarantee that filling out the form will make anything happen.

There’s no guarantee anyone will even read it.

But it gives you something to do the next time you’re stuck at a mistimed, too long or otherwise frustrating light.

… or this one? Let the state DOT know!

Unsung Heroes #129

At 5:45 p.m. a few days before Christmas — with everyone rushing home or finishing errands — a Westport woman’s Volvo SUV broke down in the middle of Canal Street. It blocked traffic. She could not even put it in neutral.

But instead of getting mad, many Westporters helped.

One was a mechanic. Another was a woman, who parked on the side and showed “incredible kindness.”

The Westport Police were “amazing — as always.” she says. One officer even drove her home.

These seem like such little gestures. To her — stressed out and worried — they were huge.

“Thank you to all the kind-hearted people who stopped,” she says.

“Your smiles, kind words and willingness to help a stranger brightened a very cold night.”

Cumberland Gap

Back in the day, there was a Gulf station at the corner of the Post Road and Hillspoint. It was a real service station — they sold gas and actually repaired your car.

Cumberland Farms took over. They closed the service bays, and started selling “food.” Okay, it made 7/Eleven look like Morton’s Steakhouse, but it was a decent alternative if you couldn’t make it all the way to Calise’s.

Cumby’s dropped Gulf gas a while ago,in favor of — who knows? It took longer for the sign to get covered up.

Finally today — a loooong time later — the sign came down.

It will be replaced — as alert “06880” reader/intrigued consumer Matt Murray notes — by a new one. It notes 2 prices: the “member” (“SmartPay”) rate, and the cost for those of us not in Cumberland Farms’ exclusive club.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Everyone Talks About Traffic: The Sequel

Earlier this month, an alert, frustrated and very gridlocked “06880” reader wrote an opinion piece about traffic.

He noted some of the worst jams in Westport, and recommended the creation of a special town traffic czar an task force to examine the issue. Dozens of readers replied. Their comments ranged from “it’s even worse than you say” to “get over it.”

This week, the reader — who asked to be identified as “GS” — is back.

This time, he has one specific solution.

It’s a spot seldom mentioned when we discuss traffic woes. But it’s bad.

I-95 Exit 18 northbound getx jammed at rush hour. Cars creep up the hill; the backlog often spills all the way down the ramp, causing delays on the highway itself.

GS’ idea: Put a stoplight at the top of the exit, at the Sherwood Island Connector.

Exit 18, at the Sherwood Island Connector.

“Keep it green 85% of the time, for drivers coming off the exit,” he says. After all, virtually no one ever waits at what is now a stop sign, heading east to Sherwood Island State Park. (Even in summer, most traffic to the park comes off 95 northbound.)

Making Exit 18 more attractive would cause more drivers to get off there — easing the current congestion at Exit 17, and into Saugatuck, GS says. Waze and other traffic apps would notice, keeping drivers on 95 to Exit 18, instead of telling them to get off at 17 because of I-95 congestion ahead.

“It’s not a lot,” he admits. “But every little bit helps.”

It’s an interesting idea. So here is today’s “06880” challenge:

Come up with your own.

What little tweaks can you suggest, to ease traffic in Westport?

Where would you put a light, a stop sign, a turning lane? Where would you remove something that actually hinders the flow?

Be creative! Think outside the box! The sky’s the limit!

And if you think this is, um, pie in the sky: Think again.

These ideas will go right to our new task force and traffic czar.

Once they’re appointed, of course.

If You Thought All That Construction At The Post Road And Riverside Was About A Turning Lane …

… think again.

A new utility pole just went up at what has been called “the worst intersection in the state.”

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

I’m going waaaay out on a limb here with a prediction for 2020:

Traffic will continue to suck there.

Happy Boxing Day!

And what better way to celebrate than by boxing in another car at Parker Harding Plaza?

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

According to alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens — who was as gobsmacked as I was to see this — there was no driver in the car.

And, Chip says, there were empty spaces nearby.

Parker Harding is not the easiest lot to navigate in the best of times. I can’t imagine what it was like with this vehicle planted there.

Meanwhile, a couple of hours later and across Main Street in Brooks Corner, this pickup driver figured, hey, why pull all the way in?

(Photo/Joan Nevin)

No vehicles could get around him. Mayhem ensued.

The driver did not care. He was nowhere in sight.