Tag Archives: Post Road

Many Hands Make Lights Work

During COVID, Westport’s eerily empty streets were a joy to drive.

A sad joy, to be sure. The other side of our unimpeded ride was knowing that so many friends and neighbors were stuck home, inside, with nowhere at all to go.

Now — thanks to vaccinations, warm weather and pandemic fatigue — traffic is back.

And it’s worse than ever.

For hours a day, backups stretch everywhere: from Route 1 and 33 almost to Fresh Market. Canal and Main Streets. All of Saugatuck.

No one can say for sure why it’s this bad. But driving in Westport really, really sucks.

Waiting in line at the Imperial Avenue light. (Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

With time on my hands the other day — I wasn’t going anywhere — I tried to think of solutions.

I wouldn’t wish another townwide quarantine on anyone. Banning Waze is not an option. (I’m as hypocritical as the rest of Westport: I happily use the app to avoid highway traffic by driving through other towns.)

So I did the next best thing. I came up with a few ideas.

For example:

Alternate red and green lights at both Wilton Road and Riverside Avenue. The awkward dance between cars heading northbound and southbound doesn’t work. One car trying to turn left from Wilton Road onto the Post Road — or left from Riverside onto Post Road West — can hold up a dozen cars behind it. So why not have green for only northbound traffic; then only green for southbound traffic; followed by what we’ve got now (first a “left turn only” for eastbound and westbound drivers, then a full green for both).

What’s the holdup? Some dude at the front of this line, trying to turn left onto the Post Road. (Photo/David Waldman)

Add a “left turn only” for drivers on South Compo, going westbound on Bridge Street. Traffic now routinely backs up under the railroad bridge.

At the same time, change the timing of the light. It’s too long for Greens Farms Road and Bridge Street drivers, not long enough for those on Compo South. (I know; a long light helps ease traffic on Greens Farms and Bridge Street when it’s backed up with I-95 overflow. Maybe shorter lights would effect Waze’s algorithm of suggesting that as an alternate route.)

A “left-turn only” arrow from South Compo to Bridge Street will make traffic flow as easily as it appears in this image from Google Maps.

Reconfigure the turning lane from Kings Highway North (where the Willows/ “Fort Apache” medical complex is on the right), onto Wilton Road. Right now the right lane is for right turns and cars going straight on Kings Highway. When one car in that lane heads straight, no one behind can turn right on red. Make the left lane for left turns and straight ahead; the right lane should be “right on red” only.

Another reason Kings Highway North should be “right turn on red” only: The left lane lines up more directly with its continuation past Wilton Road.

All of these ideas are beyond the scope of Westport officials. They’re state roads. So yeah, I know, I have a better chance of walking to the planet Zork than I do of seeing meaningful traffic light changes.

But a boy can dream.

(Do you have an idea for easing Westport’s traffic woes? Click “Comments” below. It won’t do any good — but at least “06880” readers can appreciate your brilliance.) 

Friday Flashback #239

As Westport’s downtown renaissance continues, Seth Schachter sends some fascinating postcards from a far different era.

All 3 show “Fountain Square.” The Post Road (then called State Street)/Main Street intersection was as heavily trafficked — for its time — as it is today.

One of the main attractions was a fountain — actually, a horse trough. (“Trough Square” does not have quite the same ring.)

This 1906 view shows the view looking north on Main Street. The first few buildings on the left look similar to today. The Westporter Hotel (right) was replaced in 1923 by the YMCA.

The view below — also from 1906 — looks west on State Street, toward the Saugatuck River and Norwalk. The building in the center of the photo would soon be demolished for — as the postcard says — “the new Jesup Library.” It would be expanded in the 1950s toward the west.

In 1986 the Westport Public Library moved to its present site near Jesup Green; it was replaced by, among other tenants, Starbucks, Freshii and the recently closed Pop’TArt gallery.

In the scene below, similar to the first photo above — probably from the 1920s — the YMCA had already been built (right). A small park outside the library can be seen at the left. The Main Street streetscape is very recognizable.

A horse drinks contentedly from the trough.

And the street is just as rutted as it is now, a century later.

Pic Of The Day #1437

Important message at Church Lane and the Post Road (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Pic Of The Day #1375

Downtown by drone (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

A Holiday Pause

After a slow start, for the past few days this COVID holiday shopping season seemed as crowded as any other.

Today, with Christmas at home and dreary weather, the streets were deserted.

We haven’t seen the Post Road this empty this since the first days of the pandemic.

(Photo/Carolanne Curry)

Tomorrow, it’s back to the new normal.

Friday Flashback #210

Over the years I’ve seen tons of photos of the Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road intersection, looking down and east from the Post Road hill.

But until I spotted this one — courtesy of Kathleen Kiska and Michael Tedesco — I’d never seen a view quite like this.

The wide, sharp shot — from 1914 — seems to capture turn-of-the-last-century Westport. A thriving business district existed right alongside residential neighborhoods. The little kid riding a bicycle looks straight out of Norman Rockwell.

But who was in charge of the roads? They look in even worse shape than they are today.

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.

 

Photo Challenge #281

Every Photo Challenge has a back story. I wish I knew the one behind last week’s.

Downtown, a block of Post Road stores between Myrtle Avenue and Anthropologie (the old YMCA) seems to cut off access to Church Lane, and with it the Spotted Horse restaurant and the shops and galleries of Bedford Square.

Unless, that is, you know the “secret” short cut. A narrow alley slices alongside Urban Outfitters, connecting the 2 streets.

What’s more, the passageway is enlivened by some cool art. Most Westporters don’t know it’s there. But Tom Ryan, Andrew Colabella, Michael Calise, Stacie Curran and Seth Braunstein all identified it through Molly Alger’s reminiscent-of-an-island-somewhere photo. (Click here to see.)

How did the alley get there? Was it planned, or an accident? Who created the art — and was it sponsored or guerrilla? If you know the back story to this hidden downtown gem, let us know!

ProTip: There’s another shortcut between the Post Road and Church Lane too, just east of the alley: the parking garage. You can’t drive through anymore, but you can still walk it.

This week’s Photo Challenge is not exactly a shortcut. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Friday Flashback #176

The Post Road sure has changed in the century or so since this photo was taken.

Yet 100 years or so later, much of it still looks familiar.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

In this west-looking view — provided by alert reader/amateur historian Mary Gai — we see the road median, beginning about where the new retail/ residential/office complex is at the foot of Long Lots Road.

Further along on the right is the current site of New Country Toyota, and other buildings that still remain.

At the crest of the hill, on the south (left) is Sakura’s predecessor. Cumberland Farms, Calise’s, a lumber store, small shopping center, Citgo and more have taken over the rest of that side — but the topography is the same. It’s easy to visualize what the Post Road (State Street/US 1) looked like then.

It’s much harder to imagine the almost total lack of traffic.

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!