Safety improvements to Hillspoint Road on the way
WESTPORT — Pedestrians and bicyclists will soon have an easier time traveling on Hillspoint Road with a new safety initiative planned for the area.
The Board of Selectmen at its Wednesday meeting unanimously approved a commitment to fund letter that would see improvements to the intersections and sidewalks on the road through a grant.
Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich said this would be the final step in the town’s road safety audit initiative.
In 2016, Ratkiewich alongside a number of auditors from the state, walked along Compo Road, Compo Beach Road and Hillspoint Road to identify safety issues within the corridor, which runs along the shoreline.
“That corridor is the main route to our recreational facilities,” he said, adding this was a valuable assessment because there was a lot of foot traffic and bicycle activity in the area.
After the audit, the town became eligible for the community connectivity grant, which provides funds to address pedestrian and biking issues. The $305,000 grant would help improve sidewalks and add safer intersections on Hillspoint Road and Compo Hill Avenue, where the new restaurant Elvira Mae’s is located.
“Around 2017, a resident of the Old Mill, Compo Hill area was asking us to look at pedestrian safety and the crossings,” Ratkiewich said. “This was the impetus of our grant application.”
Funds would also go toward improving the sidewalk along Hillspoint Road and make it ADA compliant.
In approving the letter, the town agrees to pay for the plan’s design.
“The grant is 100 percent reimbursable for construction, but is not reimbursable for design activities at all or any right-of-way issues we may encounter,” he said. “We have to take care of those on the town’s budget.”
Design services for the project would be done in-house, Ratkiewich said. While a bike lane was not feasible for the entirety of Hillspoint Road, he said a sharrow could be a possible addition.
“I know it is a very traveled path,” Ratkiewich said. “We may be able to enhance the bicycle experience over what it is today.”
The project would likely begin next year, he said, adding this is part of the town’s continued effort to leverage state funds to improve sidewalks around Westport.
“This is not necessarily the end of the road safety program,” he said.
Selectwoman Jen Tooker said she was happy to hear news of the upgrades.
“Outside of downtown, this is probably one of the biggest shared road areas that we have in town,” she said. “This is exciting to make it safer for our residents and our visitors.”