Tag Archives: Public Works Department

Traffic Safety: Someone Is Listening

Everyone* complains about traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Someone is listening.

Actually, several someones.

Every Thursday this spring, there’s a public meeting at Town Hall. Members of the Police, Public Works and Planning & Zoning Departments set up a mic, then listen as the public provides input about the worst spots, and (sometimes) suggests fixes.

The meetings are organized by RTM district, so the focus is hyperlocal.

This past Thursday, I went to my own District 9 meeting. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas were in the audience, along with our 4 Representative Town Meeting members.

RTM District 9 member Kristin Schneeman addressed the traffic and safety meeting. In the row next to her are fellow RTM reps Nancy Kail, Lori Church and Sal Liccione.

With the Post Road, Route 136 and 33, several major roads and the Saugatuck River crisscrossing our district, we have special challenges.**

Residents described issues with traffic lights, lack of sidewalks (North Compo), speeding drivers (and boaters), noise, and not enough police enforcement

As each speaker mentioned an area, Google Street View showed the problem on a big screen.

When a speaker mentioned safety issues on North Compo Road, members of the Police, Public Works and Planning & Zoning Departments listened — and looked. 

Solutions are not easy. Many District 9 roads — and others throughout Westport — are controlled by the state. Something as simple signage and changing traffic light cycles takes time; adding sidewalks involves taking private property and knocking down retaining walls. Town and state funds are limited.

But town officials were attentive. They took notes. They answered questions.

And — when possible — they offered immediate solutions. If vegetations obscures a sign or inhibits sight lines, for example, call Police or Public Works. They’ll take care of it.

“Thanks for active listening,” one District 9 resident said. Her neighbors nodded in agreement.

Three meetings remain. All begin at 7 p.m., in the Town Hall auditorium. Click here for a map of RTM districts. 

  • District 2: May 5
  • District 3: May 12
  • District 5: May 19

*Including some of the worst offenders.

** I know, I know. Every other RTM district is special too.

The Sidewalks Of Westport

With Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools closed, it may be a while since you’ve driven on North Avenue.

If you have, you’ve noticed construction underway on a new sidewalk. It parallels the old one, from Long Lots Road north to Cross Highway. But it’s closer to the road, with no grass strip in between.

The old sidewalk was separated from North Avenue by a grass strip …

What’s up with that? several readers wondered.

I asked Peter Ratkiewich. The Public Works director said the new sidewalk will be 5 feet wide, elevated above the road by a 6-inch concrete curb. For the most part, it will run along the edge of the road. In certain areas with obstructions, it will deviate from the road edge.

The old sidewalk — parts of which were over 30 years old — will be removed entirely. That area will be restored with topsoil and seed.

… while the new one will not be. (Photos/Michael Fleming)

The new construction will facilitate maintenance (including winter, when it must be plowed or shoveled).

This is the same method of construction used all over town. The North Avenue sidewalk will look very similar to the one on Imperial Avenue, built about 6 years ago and hailed by many residents.

North Avenue resident Michael Fleming is not pleased, however. He started a petition asking the town to retain the sidewalk buffers.

The Imperial Avenue sidewalk.

In other sidewalk news, Public Works has nearly completed a new sidewalk on Maple Avenue North. They’ll start the Myrtle Avenue project soon.

Ratkiewich is still waiting for word from the state on the Riverside Avenue reconstruction project. It will include some sidewalk replacement.

The Main Street sidewalk project has been submitted to the state for final review. He hopes to have that project underway before fall.

Next year, Ratkiewich hopes to rebuild the Hillspoint Road sidewalk from Old Mill Beach to Greens Farms Road, and the Compo Road South sidewalk from the Post Road to Bridge Street.

The North Avenue project was scheduled before COVID-19. And yes, the lack of traffic has made the work easier.


Public Works: Take A Bow!

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Hannah DeQuadros writes:

I’ve been thinking about all the snow we received this year, and what a great job the Public Works Department does plowing the streets in Westport. Two recent experiences brought home how fantastic they are.

Westport's Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

Westport’s Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

I was in Norwalk twice after snowfalls. I thought, “these roads are terrible!” Fairly main roads were not as well cleaned as my small one. I wondered if it was my imagination. But both times, once I crossed back into Westport, the roads were in much better condition.

I live at the end of a cul-de-sac. The plows do an excellent job clearing the circle. There isn’t much space though, so a huge pile accumulates on our curb.

It doesn’t bother me. But we received a note from our mail carrier last week that he can’t get to the mailbox without getting out of his vehicle. He asked us to clear the way.

A shovel was useless on the massive, compacted pile of snow and ice. I called Public Works Monday morning, wondering about a solution. I reiterated that the guys do an outstanding job plowing; I just had to contend with the letter carrier.

On Tuesday morning, a plow and backhoe loader came to clear the pile. Problem solved!

While we wait for warmer weather, we should all give big thanks to the guys who work long shifts, in dreadful conditions, keeping our roads clear. They do an outstanding job!

The snow AFTER it was removed by a Public Works crew. The pile once stood 8 feet tall.

The snow AFTER a Public Works crew came through. The pile once stood 8 feet tall.

Burying Hill Beach Rebuilds

Alert “06880” reader John Karrel sent this photo of Burying Hill Beach:

Burying Hill Beach

Our Public Works Department is overseeing the reconstruction of the steep cement wall, heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

The plan is to have the FEMA-reimbursable work finished by Memorial Day — the start of beach season.

Which — judging by today’s weather forecast — can’t come a moment too soon.