Town officials have already discussed a variety of uses for Westport’s $8.4 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds: the jetty at Burying Hill Beach, aid to non-profit organizations, and plans for low-density affordable housing.
Next up: traffic mitigation.
A new traffic pattern — circular, around a central island — has long been proposed for the Weston Road/Main Street/Easton Road cluster*** near Merritt Parkway Exit 42.
The very confusing — and dangerous — Main Street/Weston Road/Easton Road intersection.
Soon, the Board of Selectwomen and Public Works Department will request money to make that a reality.
As well as 5 other notoriously bad intersections in town.
Roundabouts will be proposed for:
The notorious “worst in the state” Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road mess
Riverside Avenue and Bridge Street, at the foot of the Cribari Bridge
The Compo Shopping Center (“CVS”)/Compo Acres (“Trader Joe’s”) misaligned entrances/exits on the Post Road
The nearly-as-bad Compo Acres exit onto South Compo Road, at the west end of the plaza
The North Avenue/Cross Highway 4-way stop, midway between 4 Westport schools.
A roundabout in the Post Road would prevent cars from entering the wrong way.
“We understand that while the Merritt Parkway project is fairly straightforward, with plans already designed, the others are more complex,” the Board of Selectwomen say in a prepared statement.
“In fact, all of the others will involve taking some land by eminent domain. The Wilton Road and Cribari Bridge projects, for example, may necessitate the removal of some already existing buildings.
“While eminent domain is not necessarily the easiest path to pursue, we believe that ultimately these improvements will benefit all Westporters. We pledge to work with any affected businesses to find new locations, and to do so in a way that lessens any adverse impact on them.”
The statement adds, “While we know some of these designs will be tight, we are confident that our professionals can make them work.”
The proposal goes next to the Planning & Zoning Commission, then the RTM. Click here to see drawings of all 6 roundabouts.
Due to space constraints, Westport’s roundabout islands would not be as large as this example.
We may not be able to solve the COVID crisis. We can’t agree on where to put affordable housing, or what to do with trees on private property.
But together, we can fix one of Westport’s gravest threats: the Compo Shopping Center parking lot.
Yesterday, I asked for ideas about the clusterf*** that confounds us all. It is — as readers repeatedly report — a death trap. An embarrassment. And (this should get everyone’s attention) a detriment to business.
You did not disappoint. Ideas poured in — plus aerial photos, complete with arrows and Xs.
Sure, it’s the last day of the year. You’re distracted with New Year’s preparations, deciding which sweatpants to wear as you sit home tonight.
But I want to make sure that some of the best solutions don’t get buried in the Comments section. So here’s a summary of what you said.
Evan Stein has a thorough solution — with a diagram:
Evan suggests: Close all connections from the rear parking lot to the front. Re-stripe the lots, for angled parking.
Divide the lot with a barrier (giant planters with trees or shrubbery) into a south lot and a north lot. Each would have one entrance, and one exit. Enter the south lot from the south. Enter the north lot from the north.
Each lot exit would have an independent traffic light. The exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s) would also have its own traffic light. There would be a 5-light cycle:
• South lot green
• North lot green
• Compo acres green
• Route 1 green (no turning allowed)
• Pedestrian crossing.
Elizabeth Thibault likes Evan’s idea, but notes that Post Road traffic frequently blocks the light at CVS. She’d make the lights one way, going into the plaza and then flowing out the back. If that doesn’t work, at least paint a giant box in front, and ticket drivers for blocking the entrance.
Elizabeth has a more radical suggestion: Remodel each business, making the main entrances in the rear. She’d keep the glass windows and displays on the Post Road side, to attract drivers, but would make the store layouts favor back entry.
Doug Kniffin offers 4 fixes, from easiest to most difficult:
Adjust the CVS-adjacent traffic signal for 3 separate phases: a) Post Road both directions; b) CVS lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west; c) Trader Joe’s lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west.
Paint solid yellow lines down the center of the parking lots in front of CVS and Gold’s Little Kitchen. This will help keep drivers on the “right” side of the lot.
Change the exit ramp next to Cohen’s Optical from exit-only to entry-only. The exit ramp now is useless. A new parking lot entry will reduce traffic going into the entry further west, at the traffic light.
Take space from the north end of the People’s Bank parking lot; create entry/exit access lanes between the back of the Compo Shopping lot and North Compo Road. People’s rarely uses this space, but an exit/entry there will reduce the traffic traveling through the front lots.
Beth Berkowitz suggests angled parking too. That makes it harder for 2-way traffic to imperil drivers.
She’d also make the spaces closest to the road parallel parking — not head-in — and would turn the entrance/exit in front of CVS into entrance only. Traffic could exit only through the south (North Compo) end, or the back lot.
Wendy Crowther has one simple, quick fix: Eliminate the parking spaces that encroach upon the lot’s main entrance/exit, as well as those near the center driveway that passes between the 2 buildings. This would allow drivers to enter and exit the lot without the hassle of cars trying to pull in and out of those spaces.
The news that Dunkin’ Donuts is moving across the Post Road — from its spot near the UPS Store, to 2 vacant storefronts in Compo Shopping Center — was greeted not with joy, for its expanded space.
Instead, “06880” commenters expressed chagrin that the already chaotic parking lot opposite Trader Joe’s will become — unbelievably — even more gruesome.
In a town with too many candidates for Worst Traffic Nightmare, the twin lots near downtown win in a walkaway. As bad as the rest of Westport is, nothing comes close to these mis-aligned, cramped lots filled with aggressive, heedless drivers laser-focused on getting their pizza, dry cleaning or hemorrhoid cream, then getting the hell out.
Now we add coffee into the mix.
Arrow? What arrow?!
I don’t recall Compo Shopping Center always being so bad. Even with a McClellan’s five-and-dime, barber shop and luncheonette — remember “luncheonettes”?! — plus a supermarket where Awesome Toys is now, traffic flowed smoothly.
I might be misremembering, but it seemed that the traffic in front of the left side of the plaza was always one-way, headed south. You couldn’t come from behind the stores and head left through the lot. You couldn’t even back out and aim for the light at the middle; you had to keep going toward North Compo.
Now anything goes. Parking spaces are narrower than ever. Drivers are more distracted. CVS is always packed. And that’s just for starters.
Note the two — two! — cars entering the CVS lot the wrong way.
So here is today’s “06880” challenge. It’s probably a fool’s errand, but let’s say you had a chance to redesign Compo Shopping Center. What would you do?
You can reimagine the entire, horrific property: The tiny traffic island at the middle entrance that many folks ignore. The entrance itself, a few maddening yards away from its counterpart at Trader Joe’s. The cut-through to the back lot. The one-way hill leading to the Humane Society (which is moving soon, to Wilton). The rear lot. The traffic flow. The stores themselves.
You name it — it’s all on the table.
One way to solve the problem of narrow parking spaces.
This is a great country. We just launched a space telescope 100 times more powerful than its already impressive predecessor. We developed, manufactured and distributed a vaccine to combat COVID all in 13 months, even if some people are too batshit stupid to take it. We can do whatever we put our minds to.
Even fix Compo Shopping Center.*
Click “Comments” below to provide your solution. The winner gets a free coffee at Dunkin’.
There’s lots of room in the underutilized back lot — though people park poorly there too.
*We’ll leave Compo Acres — the Trader Joe’s lot — for another time.
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