RTM member Mark Friedman’s District 3 includes the former Daybreak property, where a new 9-home development has been proposed. He writes:
I am in favor of smart development in Westport. However, with its horrific new traffic pattern, the proposed development at 500 Main Street is not smart. Having attended P&Z meetings and spoken with dozens of Westporters about this proposal, I have concluded that the proposed new traffic pattern adds significant danger to the lives of residents but fails to benefit the town.
Given the wide discretion afforded the P&Z in considering applications for Special Permits, the additional hazards presented by the proposed new traffic pattern serve as a moral imperative to deny this application.
The developer’s proposed traffic pattern poses new and additional threats to public safety — at an intersection haunted by dozens of accidents over the last few years and given the lowest possible grade by the town’s traffic consultant: an F.
To this clear and present danger, the developer suggests adding a new road that connects Weston Road to Main Street, roughly parallel to Daybreak Lane. In its current iteration, the new street would flow one way, southbound, from Weston Road to Main Street.
Unfortunately, this configuration would pose new safety issues on both Weston Road and Main Street.
On Weston Road, the danger would be acute for those taking a left turn into the new road because cars accelerate in the other direction from the 4-way stop sign at Easton/Weston Roads.
The peril for cars exiting onto Main Street from the new throughway could be even greater when they try to turn left, towards town. This results from the blind corner and terrible sight lines for cars heading around the bend on Weston Road/Main Street.
An estimated 30,000 cars traverse this route daily at an average speed of 41 miles per hour; approximately half, or 15,000 cars, thus travel in excess of 41 mph, making the limited sight lines — and stopping distances — all the more perilous.
Moreover, cars exiting the proposed new road may have their own sight lines restricted further by northbound traffic on Main Street. A “no left turn” sign on the new road, while perhaps theoretically appealing, would likely be disregarded regularly, given the apparent convenience of a left turn when heading towards town.
Switching the flow of traffic to the opposite direction — which the developer originally contemplated — on the new proposed street creates new and different hazards.
There would be significant peril for cars turning left from the new street on to Weston Road, as there could be limited opportunities to enter this congested road Cars accelerating from the 4-way stop could t-bone a turning car.
The possibility of a car turning left inching onto Weston Road, thus backing up traffic to the 4-way stop and beyond, is high during peak traffic times.
Worse, if traffic flowed northbound on the new street, from Main Street towards Weston Road, then cars heading southbound on Main Street that want to enter the new road would frequently have to come to a full stop on that busy thoroughfare — immediately after a blind turn with extremely limited sight lines.
In a best case scenario, this increases traffic dramatically. In a worst case scenario, the stopped car gets rear-ended by one of the 15,000 cars a day that travels in excess of 41 mph around this blind turn.
Cost benefit analysis requires that the P&Z reject this special permit, and they have wide discretion to do so.
In the fall elections, voters resoundingly demanded that the town address traffic and safety concerns. Further, hundreds of residents have signed a petition protesting the traffic hazards that this proposed development presents with its new traffic pattern.
Town officials have a moral obligation to protect the health and safety of its citizens and a duty to listen to voters.
This is especially pertinent when the suggested benefits of a Special Permit application are so meager. The prospect of each Westport household “benefiting” from the 50 cents a month of incremental tax revenue this project might yield does nothing to change the calculation.
Nor does the suggestion that this proposed 55 and up development somehow qualifies as senior housing. While the town does need to consider senior housing alternatives, age 55 is hardly senior. Moreover, the perils of the proposed new traffic pattern are especially significant for actual seniors.
Finally, given the current real estate slump and overabundance of houses on the market, adding new supply — especially high density housing that is out of character of its neighborhood — actually damages the finances of every homeowner in Westport.
As citizens, we all know that the intersection of Main Street, Easton and Weston Road presents a clear and present danger. As a town, we cannot afford to approve a new traffic pattern that creates new perils.