‘Main to Train’ group talks intersections, bike lanes at final meeting
WESTPORT — The Main to Train study group discussed improving intersections in town, additional sidewalks and bike lanes as part of their final public session on Monday.
The purpose of the study, which began last year, was to identify improvements to vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian safety along Post Road and Riverside Avenue.
“This study is necessary for CTDOT to prioritize and fund improvements going forward,” Victor Minerva, director of planning with the national consulting firm NV5.
Justin Iwinski, a consultant with NV5, said the driveway at the north side of the intersection at Compo Acres Shopping Center was not aligned with the Trader Joe’s exit on the road. This created a number of vehicular conflict and site issues, he said.
“Our recommendation is to reconstruct the driveway and align it with Trader Joe’s and Compo Acres, which would better eliminate the left turn conflict,” Iwinski said.
This would also tighten the intersection and make pedestrian crosswalks safer, he said. New signal equipment, and a cross walk was also recommended. Similar improvements were also provided for the intersection of Compo Road and Post Road East.
Iwinski said currently an exclusive pedestrian phase holds up traffic at this intersection, and that traffic could be improved with a concurrent pedestrian phase.
“This allows pedestrians to cross with traffic that is moving parallel to them,” Iwinski said, adding a refuge island could also provide pedestrian safety when crossing roads.
Kristin Schneeman said, as a parent, she was concerned about concurrent crossing lights replacing the exclusive pedestrian phase downtown.
“Those are big intersections at Compo,” she said. “The only reason I let my kids walk down there is they have the opportunity to do pedestrian-only crossing.”
Bike lanes were also proposed for the Post Road over Saugatuck River. Iwinski said this would include re-striping the road with 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes; shared lane marking was recommended for Riverside Avenue to help bicyclists.
Following the presentation some residents and members of the Representative Town Meeting questioned the lack of a bike lane on Riverside Avenue.
Jessica Bram, a Westport resident, said having bike lanes on Riverside Avenue would be optimal and improve access to the train station for bicyclists, she said.
“Those shoulders that currently exist are perfectly built out, no new construction would be needed,” Bram said. “It seems to me all you would have to do is prohibit parking alongside Riverside Avenue.”
Iwinski said there would need to be coordination between the town, businesses on the road, and Saugatuck Elementary School, as cars could end up parking in the bike lanes.
“We think in this section you’re going to have to have shared roads no matter what,” Irwin said.
Louis Mall, a RTM member, said if cars were forced to not park on Riverside Avenue, they would go into neighborhoods.
“I would have a rebellion in my district if people suddenly had their driveways blocked,” he said. “It’s bad enough as it is.”