Westport selectmen approve new downtown crosswalks
WESTPORT — Downtown will soon become more pedestrian friendly with the addition of crosswalks.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the creation of two new crosswalks at the intersection of Elm and Main streets on Wednesday, fulfilling another concept in the downtown master plan.
Pete Ratkiewich, director of Public Works, said the two new crosswalks are consistent with the downtown master plan while also addressing some of the issues the original plan raised. This includes the inability to change a curb cut near Brook’s Corner to reconfigure the intersection and the original proposed changes that would’ve made it harder for firetrucks to navigate tight turns at the intersection, he said.
“So in conjunction with the fire department we’ve come up with an alternative proposal that we feel meets the intent of the downtown plan as well as addresses both the concerns at Brook’s corner and the fire department,” Ratkiewich said at a Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday.
He said the intent is to get the new walkways as perpendicular as possible to Main Street. He added the idea is to identify the intersection as a very active pedestrian area. The cross walks could be installed by late spring or early summer after the remainder of Main Street is paved.
Ratkiewich said people generally slow down when there is pedestrian traffic, but pedestrians tend to cross in random patterns for now because there aren’t crosswalks.
“Whereas the establishment of this will give them a lane to go in and it will be much more visible to people coming down Elm Street,” he said, adding it’s a goal to make it more visible that this is a pedestrian safety zone to motorists.
Westport Police Corporal Alan D’Amura said the area is very active, and when he drives it he sees people crossing the area all the time. He added the change will make it safer for pedestrians.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said step-by-step the town is working to complete the concepts outlined in the downtown plan.
“Many more to come, but we knew it wouldn’t be easy,” he said. “But each step takes us closer.”