Category Archives: Transportation

Another Guy Behaving Really Badly

The other day, I posted a story about a man who — upset at the traffic on Greens Farms Road — repeatedly parked his car perpendicular across both lanes, blocking everyone.

Now comes another transportation-related report — this one involving trains. An alert — and very irate — “06880” reader writes:

I ride the train every day. I notice from time to time when I get off at Greens Farms that someone leaves a huge pile of papers scattered on the floor for someone else to pick up. I always think to myself how terrible it is. I wonder how could someone be okay with doing this?

A few weeks ago I sat on the outside seat. I had to get up to let someone off at the Saugatuck station. As I did, a man also exited from the row right in front of me. Sure enough, there was the pile of papers.

This guy reads both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

I nicely asked if those were his papers. He looked at me and said “yes.”

I asked if he was going to leave them all over the floor for someone else to pick up.

He looked at me again. He again said “yes.” Then he walked off the train.

I passed the story along to my business partner, who got off at Greens Farms with me.

Last night my business partner sat across from the same guy, who did the same thing.

Apparently every day, he leaves his mess for someone else to clean up.

In this day and age, while many of us are talking about privilege, and how to teach our kids to do the right thing, this is a sad reminder that some people just don’t care.

[NOTE: The reader sent me a photo. The man appears to be in his 50s; he’s average height, average build, and wears glasses. His hair is graying at the temples. I have decided to take the high road — not the below-the-tracks road he travels — and not post it here. — Dan Woog]

Pic Of The Day #973

Riverside Avenue, near Post Road (Photo/Mark Mathias)

On Greens Farms Road, A Vigilante Traffic Stop

It’s no secret — unfortunately — that when I-95 backs up, Greens Farms Road can be an alternate route.

Neighborhood residents don’t like it. But — in this age of Waze and other traffic apps — there’s nothing they can do about it.

That did not stop one man from trying.

Alert “06880” reader Josh Stein reports:

Driving southbound yesterday on Greens Farms Road, I came upon a car parked perpendicular across both travel lanes.

I thought there was an accident. I ran up to the car, and was greeted by a man who said he represents the Greens Farms Association.

I’m sure he doesn’t. But, Josh continues:

He said was protesting through traffic. Dozens of cars were stopped.

A less congested view of the area on Greens Farms Road where a vigilante stopped traffic yesterday.

When Josh returned home, the same thing happened. He called the Westport Police Department. They arrived quickly.

Apparently, Josh says:

This guy has been doing this all week. The police are aware of him.

He actually accelerated and aimed his car at me this second time. He has a large dog in his back seat. The first time he blocked both lanes of traffic, he was in front of 286 Greens Farms Road. This second time he was in front of 350 Greens Farms Road or thereabouts. He told the officer he lives on Greens Farms Road, in the 300s.

No, we don’t like what Waze is doing to our town.

But there must be better “ways” to address the problem than this.

Westport Cops Go Green — Add Tesla To The Fleet

Savvy drivers know what our police cars look like.

They look like cop cars everywhere.

But this is Westport. The next time you’re pulled over, it may be by a … Tesla.

The newest addition to the Police Department fleet is a fully electric 2020 Tesla Model 3. The 310 mile-range electric vehicle has already been delivered. It’s being outfitted now with all the necessary equipment: emergency lights, siren, computer, weapon rack, and tires capable of speeds over 100 miles an hour.

It’s expected to hit the mean streets of Westport by the end of January.

No, this is not a speed trap by the Minute Man Monument. Although it might be.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas says he “believes in being green.” But his main reason for choosing a Tesla was superior performance, crash ratings, and collision avoidance technology.

Officers will pass on the autopilot feature.

While the purchase price of $52,290 is higher than the $37,000 the department normally spends adding another Ford Explorer, Koskinas expects to more than make up for that in fuel and maintenance savings.

Just in the first 3 years, an internal combustion engine squad car requires about $11,000 in oil changes, oil filters, tuneups and brakes.

Teslas require no annual maintenance. Brakes last 70,000 miles or more, thanks to a motor system that slows the car while simultaneously recharging the battery.

A new look for the Westport Police Department fleet.

Savings on gas are significant too. The Department of Energy’s fuel economy calculator shows the Police Department’s cost per mile will be $0.040. The fuel cost for a Ford Explorer is $0.127 per mile — saving $13,770 in the first 3 years.

Charging the battery is not an issue. The vehicle is expected to be used 200 to 220 miles a day. The police already have a gas pump on their property. They’ll add a Level 2 electric vehicle charger, which will take just a few hours overnight.

The cop car will join the 431 electric vehicles already owned by Westporters. 250 are Teslas. That puts us #1 in the state in both categories (per capita).

EV Club president Bruce Becker believes Westport is the first police department on the East Coast with a Tesla.

FUN FACTS:

  • The Model 3 has an extra trunk in the front of the vehicle where an internal combustion engine would usually be. Officers can use it to store emergency equipment that must be kept separate from cargo in the rear trunk.
  • Every Tesla comes straight from the factory with features like front, side and rear-view cameras that a police department would typically install at extra cost. They can also be used in “sentry mode” to monitor the vehicle and vicinity when it’s parked.
  • The Model 3 has a top speed of 162 mph — faster than all other vehicles in the current fleet.
  • Police cars spend lots of time idling. An internal combustion engine must run to power the lights and keep online computers running while not draining the battery. The Tesla will eliminate those tailpipe emissions.
  • This is not the first EV for Westport’s Police Department. In 2007, a Toyota Prius replaced a car that burned 7 to 9 gallons of gas every day. The current Prius is a plug-in hybrid, but operates almost exclusively in electric-only mode for its daily driving needs.

The Police plan an open house in the spring, for the public to see the new car up close.

Though you can see it in action starting next month, if — suspecting a Ford Explorer — you get pulled over by the Tesla instead.

[OPINION] A Conversation About The Cribari Bridge

Frank Accardi moved to Westport in 1993. He’s seen a lot — and spent a lot of time by (and on) the William F. Cribari Bridge. He writes:

At this time of year, out-of-town holiday guests pile into cars. We take them to the beach, Longshore, and all those other lovely places in this town we call home.

Lunching downtown, they get a view of the river. A bit of Main Street shopping is on the agenda too.

Local friends are introduced all around: kind, friendly and warm-hearted.

We drive by parks and the library, modern schools and old churches, bike paths and boat slips. Inevitably, guests fall in love with the town just as we have.

Sometimes they get a chance to literally ride through history.

We tell them: The oldest hand-cranked open span bridge in the state is after the next light.

It’s on the National Registry of Historic places.

Reflections on the Cribari Bridge (Photo/Tom Wambach)

The turn is made. The chatter quiets.

The bridge is just ahead. Just as quickly, the short span is crossed .

But it is inevitable that they see what we see every day.

The dents, the rusty disrepair and desuetude, all made sadder by the brightness of Al DiGuido’s lights and the generosity of his spirit.

Thankful that no one experienced an oncoming landscaping truck at the same time, conversation eventually picks up.

But never about the bridge.

You want to explain that there is history, engineering, boats and truck traffic patterns to consider. But you don’t.

Safely at home, someone takes you aside and says, “Maybe from now on you should go the long way around, son.”

You say, “Don’t worry. I’m sure they will figure it all out soon.”

Won’t they ?

Entitled Parking: The Main (Street) Event

In nearly 11 years of posting photos of spectacularly selfish, jaw-droppingly self-centered, stupefyingly entitled drivers, I thought I’d seen everything.

Silly me.

On Monday, this person — I would not call him or her a “driver,” because that implies some sentience — landed his or her Jeep here:

This takes your breath away.

The person crossed the yellow line. The person stopped, going the wrong way against traffic — in a “No Parking” zone.

The person took the keys, opened the door, and left.

Without even the decency to park close to the curb!

Don’t believe me? Here’s another view.

(Photos/Dr. Edward Paul)

I would like to say that no one can top this. The bar has been set astronomically high.

But this is “06880.”

Someone will.

[OPINION] Everyone Talks About Traffic. Now We Need To Do Something About It.

Last Saturday’s traffic was INSANE. In late afternoon, it took one “06880” reader half an hour to travel from McDonald’s to downtown. Another spent 40 minutes getting from the Post Road to the train station.

Side roads were no better. Cars backed up on Cross Highway from Weston Road all the way to Bayberry Lane.

This was a particularly bad Thanksgiving weekend mess. But more and more, it’s the norm.

An alert “06880” who asked to be identified as GS has had enough. He writes:

I’ve lived in town a long time. I’ve seen the traffic get worse and worse.

You can’t get from here to there anymore. I envision a not-too-distant future in which our property values go down, because traffic has become what Westport is best known for.

One familiar scene …

Anyone who was on the road last Saturday around 6 p.m. can attest: You could have gotten where you were going faster walking than driving.

Do you commute to and from New York by car? It used to be that once you got past Stamford, you were home free. Now you spend 20 minutes just between exits 40 and 41 on the Merritt.

If you’re on I-95 and get off at Exit 17,  you’re dead in the water. If you continue on to 18, there is a 5-minute backup on the exit ramp.

Heading from Cross Highway toward Exit 42 at the wrong time of day? That’s a joke. I could go on and on.

and another.

For starters, there has to be an immediate ban on development. More people equals more cars.

Then you have to systematically examine the traffic patterns of every intersection, and the timing of every light. Yes, I’m sorry, you will need to replace some of those stop signs with traffic lights.

A few traffic officers stationed in the right places at the right times of day would provide some relief.

We need a plan, and it has to start with limiting new buildings.

Maybe we need to form a special commission. Or perhaps appoint a traffic czar.

Whatever we decide, we have to do something. Traffic in Westport has reached a crucial point.

No Surprise: Kings Highway North Construction Continues

From President Kennedy’s challenge to Neil Armstrong’s first small/giant step, it took the US just over 8 years to land a man on the moon.

The 2nd Avenue subway was first proposed in 1920. It opened a mere 97 years later.

Both those timelines seem like warp speed, compared to what’s going on at Kings Highway North.

For the few residents and many offices — particularly medical — on that short stretch between Main Street and Canal Street, life has seemed disrupted for eons.

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

The jackhammering, pipe clanging and truck beep-beeping is one thing.

The fact that it happens randomly — a few days of “work” here, long stretches of nothing except ripped-up road there, then another day of street closure — is infuriating too.

But just as maddening is that no one living and working on Kings Highway North —  and patients of the many doctors — can get a straight answer about what’s going on.

And when (if ever) it will end.

Dr. Susan Finkelstein — a psychiatrist with an office at 164 Kings Highway North — wrote:

Again this morning the road is closed on both sides. No signage, and no response from Aquarion.

I called the Westport police this a.m. They say there is access, but if you aren’t brave enough to override sawhorses, it looks closed.

NO signage or workers to direct patients. I contacted Aquarion manager Mark McCaffrey –no response.

I just wanted to update you and your readers on how the local “upgrades” are doing exactly the opposite!

Dr. Finekelstein wrote that last week. I apologize for not posting it sooner.

Then again, I can probably wait until 2098. It will still be timely.

Pic Of The Day #949

Westport train station (Photo/Joseph Thanhauser)

And The Ugliest Gas Station Is …

It’s not easy making a gas station look good.

Especially a lower-tier brand, with cut-rate prices.

But at least the Mercury station — on the Post Road just east of Stop & Shop, by the Southport line — had a handsome line of trees behind it. They shielded some of the big parking lot behind it, near Michaels.

The Mercury gas station then …

No longer.

The other day, most of those trees were cut down.

Now Mercury is definitely one of the ugliest looking gas stations in Westport.

… and now. This is the view from the Michaels parking lot. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

But first prize goes to the former Mobil Self-Serve, next to Barnes & Noble. It’s been shut for over a year.

The landlord decided it wasn’t worth making mandatory upgrades to the tanks, along with corresponding improvements to the canopy, pumps and store.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

But at least they didn’t chop down the trees.