Tag Archives: Connecticut Department of Transporation

Roundup: Schools Reopening, Milling Project, Food Scraps, MoCA Bags, More

It’s official: Westport schools will open next month with a hybrid model.

Still to be determined: the elementary school schedule. Those students will still alternate between morning and afternoon sessions, but the original plan — to switch which youngsters are in which session every week — may not be utilized. The Board of Education put off a vote on the elementary schedule, pending a parent survey.

In related news: Coleytown Middle School will not be available to begin reopening until November 18. The first day for students will likely be after Thanksgiving.

Our rough roads are getting a bit better.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has begun a milling and resurfacing project on 1.27 miles of the Post Road, from the Sherwood Island Connector to Maple Avenue.

Certain lanes will be closed from 7:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Work is expected to be done by August 31.

Sustainable Westport‘s food scrap recycling program got off to a great start.

In the first 3 weeks of the project — part of the town’s Zero Food Waste Challenge goal of decreasing residential food waste by at least 25% — Westporters dropped off 2 tons of food at the transfer station.

The site was temporarily closed to enable Department of Public Works staff to assist with cleanup after Tropical Storm Isaias.

Food scrap recycling will resume at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector this Saturday (August 22).

To get a food scrap recycling starter kit, email zerowaste@sustainablewestport.org.

The Paparo family was the first to drop off food scraps for Sustainable Westport’s recycling project.

In other environmental news, Wakeman Town Farm is giving away its precious Brown Gold. The all-natural compost/fertilizer is rich in nutrients from WTF’s organic gardens, select organic veggie scraps, and animal manure.

In other words, it’s really good s—.

It’s also free. Just BYOB (bag or bucket), and haul away a load for your fall garden. It’s outside the red barn at 134 Cross Highway.

Wakeman Town Farm’s Brown Gold. BYOB (bag or bucket).

MoCA Westport is selling messenger bags, as a fundraiser.

But these are not glorified grocery bags, with “MoCA” stamped somewhere.

Made of high-quality material and featuring digitally printed artwork, they feature 10 local artists: Trace Burroughs, Yvonne Claveloux, Bethany Czarnecki, Susan Fehlinger, Jana Ireijo, Amy Kaplan, Susan Leggitt, Fruma Markowitz, Dale Najarian and Jay Petrow.

The bags are $200 each. But the opportunity to carry a handsome bag with great art, everywhere you go — while supporting an important Westport institution — is priceless. Click here to see all 10 bags, and purchase (at least) one.

The bag designed by Yvonne Claveloux.

And finally … on August 18, 1920 — exactly 100 years ago today — Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. It was the 36th (and final) state needed, to ensure that women had the right to vote. Less than 3 months later, 26 million women were eligible to vote for the first time in a presidential election.


U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Look around.* It’s easy to see drivers everywhere in Westport using their cell phones. Texting. Probably looking for Pokemon too.

It’s easy to think there’s no enforcement whatsoever of Connecticut’s no-cell-phone law.

That’s not true. I get the police reports. I know that every week, our cops hand out a dozen or so tickets for illegal cell phone use.

Now through August 16, they’re handing out a lot more.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

The Westport Police is joining the state Department of Transportation’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” initiative.

For the 2nd year in a row, law enforcement agencies are adding special patrols to catch distracted drivers — especially those on their phones.

The last operation resulted in over 12,000 tickets throughout Connecticut.

At $150 for a 1st offense, $300 for a second and $500 for each violation after that, that’s a lot of money.

And — hopefully — a lot of lives saved.

(For more information on distracted driving, click here.)

*But pay attention to the road!

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

A Very Interesting Definition Of “Working Around The Clock”

The target date of August 17 for restoration of the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge is near. It won’t be met.

So you’d think — particularly with penalties written into the contract — that crews would be working feverishly on the project.

Perhaps day and night.

In fact — according to James Lomuscio, writing last Friday for WestportNow — state Department of Transportation project engineer Shalal Hussein had said the week before that his crews were indeed “working around the clock.”

The weather this evening was beautiful. There was no heat, little humidity, and not a hint of rain.

There was also not a hint of any work being done on the bridge.

Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge

The alert — and concerned — “06880” reader who sent the photo above says, “This was taken at 7:30 p.m. tonight, on a clear evening. NO ONE is at the North Avenue Merritt bridge work site.”

She adds that according to a neighbor on Northside Lane, the crew shows up at 7 a.m. and leaves by 3 or 4 p.m.

“The lack of activity tonight was no aberration,” the neighbor says. “It is the norm.”

Bridging Saugatuck

Everyone in Westport calls it (redundantly) the “Bridge Street bridge.” No one uses the official “William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge” name. (He was a popular cop who, for years, theatrically directed rush-hour traffic at the Riverside Avenue intersection.)

In a while, though, everyone in town will be talking about it.

Preliminary discussions between local and state officials have begun regarding repairs — or perhaps replacement — of the 131-year-old, 287-foot structure.

It’s the oldest surviving movable bridge in Connecticut. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It carries 16,000 vehicles a day.

Maritime commerce in long-ago Saugatuck — and upriver, downtown Westport — depended on the bridge’s ability to open. It was a tedious, hand-cranking process.

It also put a lot of stress on the bridge — stress that’s been aggravated by tremendous vehicular traffic, and occasional collisions with vessels. Now its girders are rusting — and possibly cracking.

An idyllic shot of the Bridge Street bridge. Usually, it's filled with traffic.

An idyllic shot of the Bridge Street bridge. Usually, it’s filled with traffic.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has identified serious deficiencies with the Bridge Street bridge. They’ve got their eyes on it. (And many others — our infrastructure is not exactly healthy.)

Renovation or replacement would entail considerable disruption to a structure vital to our town. (Repairs a while back resulted in a temporary span being constructed adjacent to the permanent one. That’s when a much-needed northbound turning lane was added, coming off the bridge by the old Mansion Clam House.)

There’s no question something must be done. When it is, will other issues be addressed — like the congestion that currently clogs Saugatuck for hours each day?

Will there be discussion of (let’s say) using some of the land at (let’s say) Rizzuto’s parking lot for a roundabout, moving traffic continuously through without a light? It’s been done elsewhere.

“Improvements” are in the eye of the beholder. Would you like to see the old truss bridge remain? Would you prefer a completely new structure?

If you have ideas on how to improve the Bridge Street bridge — and the traffic mess on and around it — click “Comments.” Please use your real name. Feel free to add thoughts on when and how you use the bridge, and what you think of it.

The Bridge Street bridge and environs, as seen on Google Earth view.

The Bridge Street bridge and environs, as seen on Google Earth view.

Weather Won’t Stall Tonight’s “Commuter Speakout”

The 1st-ever “Commuter Speakout” is still on for 7:30 tonight, at the Pequot Library in Southport.

Metro-North logoConnecticut Department of Transportation commissioner Jim Redeker will be joined by Metro-North officials from Operations and Customer Service. They’ll discuss why rail service has deteriorated, offer proposed fixes, and answer questions from commuters.

Sounds great — and very important.

But — sorry, I can’t help myself — let’s hope the “Metro-North officials” drive there.

With today’s weather, if they take the train they may never arrive.

Important Info: Limited Train Service, Tons Of Traffic

The Westport Police Department says:

Beginning tomorrow (Monday, May 20), 2013 Metro-North will run limited service from the Westport train station to points west. There is NO train service from Green’s Farms. Commuters should check http://new.mta.info/mnr/ frequently for updates.

Metro-North logoConnecticut DOT will operate shuttle buses from Bridgeport, with stops at Fairfield Metro and Fairfield train stations, and Westport as the terminus. This will have a significant impact on the Saugatuck station, as we expect most riders on these shuttles will board trains at Saugatuck. At this time Metro-North estimates they will run at about 75% capacity from Westport.

Heavy delays and high traffic volume are expected on local roads – especially if commuters from towns east of Westport drive here to board trains. If at all possible, car pool to the train station. It is expected that parking will fill fast and early. Additional police personnel will be on duty.

There will be limited shuttle bus service from Green’s Farms station to Saugatuck station for commuters who find themselves there in the morning and returning in the evening during peak hours only. Buses with limited seating will run a continuous loop to and from Saugatuck. This is separate from the CT DOT shuttle system. Please check http://www.norwalktransit.com/ for more information.

Finally, please note these important traffic pattern changes:

  • All Saugatuck station passenger vehicle drop-offs in the AM and pickups in the PM will be directed to Ferry Lane on the eastbound side of the station. Passengers can then use the tunnels to reach the NY-bound platforms.
  • Railroad Place will be used by incoming shuttle buses and local business traffic. If you are parking (while spaces remain), you may be stuck behind loading/unloading buses. Please be patient.