Since the 1960s, the Post Road East/Roseville Road corner has been known for food.
First Big Top, then Roy Rogers, now McDonald’s — it’s where generations of Westporters have stopped for a quick (first real, then heavily processed) meal.
Previous generations headed to that spot for some slow, important work.
Blacksmith shop next to Roseville Road around 1925. it was torn down in 1928, as part of a road rewidening project. The Linxweilers moved their operation nearby. (Photo courtesy of Peter Morris)
A blacksmith shop stood for years by the unpaved streets. It was owned by the Linxweiler family. Their residence — a few yards west on Post Road East, next to the Fresh Market shopping center — still stands. It’s now part of Homes with Hope’s supportive housing program.
From blacksmitih to Big Top to McDonald’s: progress? Or regress?
On July 8, representatives from Connecticut’s Department of Transportation gave a public presentation on proposed work on the Post Road. Much of it involves the stretch between Fresh Market, and the Roseville/Hillspoint Road intersection.
The $5.3 million project (80% federally funded, 20% state funds) would include special left-turn-only lanes, as well as traffic signals, curbing, curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks.
Proposals for the Post Road near Fresh Market.
Alert “06880” reader Jennifer Johnson agrees with many of the ideas. However, she also has concerns. She wrote the DOT about several, including the need for a sidewalk on the south side from Mitchells to the fire station, and care of the cherry trees in front of the Volvo dealer.
However, what really caught my eye was this:
Eliminate multiple single-property curb cuts. There are an excessive number of curb cuts (17) on both sides of the road, from the traffic light at Fresh Market to the light at Roseville/Hillspoint Road.
The number of curb cuts is a source of danger to people regardless of how they travel (foot, car or bicycle). Now is the time to correct problems that have evolved as the Post Road developed.
There are many ways in and out of the shopping centers, and adjacent lots.
I never thought about that — but now that I have, it makes a lot of sense.
Why do we need so many entrances and exits at Fresh Market? Across the street, there are also a number of ways to get into and out of the Dunkin’ Donuts/UPS Store/Westport Hardware/Mumbai Times lot. (No one ever calls it by its official no-meaning name, Village Center.)
There are other spots in town too with multiple entrances and exits, like Stop & Shop, and Aux Delices/Carvel/Stiles.
There are only a couple of ways in and out of the CVS/Trader Joe’s clusterf***. But at the end of her email, Jennifer notes that this intersection appears to have been ignored by DOT.
Finally, she asks that one person be appointed to oversee and coordinate all of DOT’s Westport projects (there are others besides the Fresh Market initiative).
Great idea! I nominate Jennifer Johnson for the job.
(For full details of the project on the Westport town website, click here. Questions about the Post Road project can be sent to the CT DOT project manager: Brian.Natwick@ct.com)
Proposed work at the Post Road/Roseville/Hillspoint intersection.
The Roseville Road home is just about perfect. Built in 1923 on 2 acres of grass and woods, it’s handsome, welcoming and filled with love.
It’s where Linda Gramatky Smith grew up, and her father, Hardie Gramatky — painter/author/illustrator of “Little Toot” fame — worked. It’s where she and her husband Ken still live today.
Linda and Ken Smith’s lovely Roseville Road home.
But no place is perfect.
Linda and Ken’s house sits on the dangerous curve, not far from the McDonald’s intersection at the Post Road. Time after time — often in snow, or at night — drivers end up on the front lawn. In the woods. Or through their stone wall.
Hardie Gramatky moved his family there in 1947. From then through his death in 1979, with unfortunate regularity, they heard the loud bang of a crash.
Homer Mills Sr. — a local mason — told Hardie that the stone wall was “my annuity.” Twice a year, he rebuilt it.
The stone wall after a recent accident. Drivers hit it when they fail to negotiate the southbound (toward McDonald’s) curve.
The night Hardie collapsed — he’d just been honored by the American Watercolor Society — the wall was hit again. “This has not bee an good day,” the artist said. He died 2 days later.
In 1982, Linda moved with her mother to New Jersey. She and Ken bought the house, and for the next 11 years they rented it out. They were gone, but the accidents continued.
In 1994 — a year after the couple moved back here, and into their home — a 17-year-old speeder from Weston slammed into the post. His air bag saved his life. Linda and Ken got one for their own car.
A humorous plaque on the side of Linda and Ken Smith’s house.
When Joe Arcudi — Linda’s 1960 Staples High School classmate — ran for 1st selectman, he promised to do something about the dangerous curve. (He recalled driving fast on the same “Rollercoaster Road” as a rite of passage in his own youth.)
After Arcudi was elected, he and Police Chief William Chiarenzelli met with Linda and Ken. They discussed a stop sign on nearby Colony Road, and a speed bump (there had been one a while earlier on Roseville near Whitney Street, but it was removed after a driver took it too fast and hit his head on his roof).
Ultimately, they settled on a couple of very large yellow signs with big arrows. Those have been a “significant help” in decreasing the number of accidents, Linda says.
But they have not stopped entirely. On Memorial Day morning in 2013, Linda drove out of her garage and felt a bump. It was a large rock.
Looking around, she spotted a car upside down near the woods. Fortunately, no one was still inside.
A Memorial Day accident 3 years ago put this car into the Smiths’ woods.
A 23-year-old from Fairfield had flipped his car the night before, taking out a tree and pushing a rock toward the garage. He’d walked to McDonald’s, where a friend picked him up.
“His insurance company was great,” Linda says.
A couple of Sundays ago, at 12:15 a.m., Linda, Ken and their 9-year-old grandson heard a screech, then a crash.
This time, it was a 20-year-old Westporter. He was charged with traveling too fast, failure to stay in the proper lane, and operating a motor vehicle under suspension and without insurance.
The aftermath of the most recent crash.
“It’s no longer every 6 months. But it’s still very scary,” Linda says. “People travel too fast. We constantly worry that someone may die.”
“This house has been part of Linda’s family for almost 70 years,” Ken says. “This comes with the territory.”
He has a ritual. When a guest leaves, he walks onto Roseville Road. When the coast is clear, he gives the driver a wave.
That’s not Ken’s idea. For decades, Hardie Gramatky did the same thing.
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An alert (and grateful) “06880” reader sent this along:
Thanks, Dan, for your blog about the huge dip in the road at Roseville & Post Road. We went out to vote (yesterday) morning and saw that asphalt has been put down over the spot so that now the transition in moving from one road to the other is smooth. I am not certain what levers you may have pulled to effect this change, but our car will be eternally grateful. Now on to the timing of the signal lights.
“06880” would like to take credit for this near-instant response by The Powers That Be. But we can’t.
At least, we don’t think we can.
The Town (and its subcontractors) work in mysterious ways. At any rate, enjoy the ride.
The current Roseville/North Avenue/Cross Highway paving project has gotten plenty of press lately.
At the same time, crews plow forward on the Post Road too.
An alert “06880” reader made the connection between the 2. He pleaded:
Can we have just a few gobs from the many truckloads of available asphalt transferred into the gully that currently exists between Roseville and the Post Road, and causes one to hit one’s head on the roof if the car goes more than 1 mph?
Amen to that.
And while we’re asking for things we won’t get, how about delaying the traffic light at that intersection, so cars stop flying across from Roseville at the exact moment Post Road traffic starts to move?
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