Connecticut Post (Sunday)
Westport plans safety upgrades for Cross Highway
WESTPORT — Cross Highway is about to get a bit safer as officials work to improve that area from North Avenue to Bayberry Lane.
Officials have found the area is unsafe for cars because people drive fast, poor stop signs and traffic congestion. It also presents safety concerns for pedestrians because of incomplete sidewalks and a lack of marked crosswalks.
The new plan, which was discussed this week, hopes to fix that. The project is in its early stages and is part of the town’s plan to address traffic and pedestrian safety issues.
“This corridor between North Avenue and Bayberry Lane has been on the radar for some time,” Town Engineer Keith Wilberg said.
The intersection at Bayberry Lane has a high accident rate, Wilberg said, adding there have been 22 accidents reported there from 2017 through 2022. He said town engineers are not sure why that is, considering it is a typical, 90-degree intersection.
One crash on Dec. 5, 2022 sent one person to the hospital, according to a presentation at the public information meeting.
“In the long run, we’re looking to make this corridor better — both safer for vehicles and pedestrians and more efficient in terms of moving traffic,” he said.
Wilberg said it’s a geometry issue with a four-way stop at the North Avenue intersection, where drivers do not know who has the right of way. There are also conflicting turns and it’s hard to see the stop signs and for drivers there to see other vehicles. The traffic study also found congestion from school and commuter traffic.
Bayberry Lane also has visibility issues at the stop signs, according to the presentation.
Both areas have problems with drivers going 35 to 40 mph though the speed limit is 25 to 30 mph there, officials said.
The pedestrian issues for the area include incomplete sidewalks, a lack of marked crosswalks, limited accessible ramps and no sidewalks on the bridge over Deadman’s Brook, which forces pedestrians to enter the roadway.
Wilberg said the town has hired a design engineer who developed multiple potential improvement plans for the area.
Town officials have already collected data and surveyed the area. They’re now working on the traffic study and schematic design phase. They are in the process of receiving feedback from residents, and reviewing that feedback to decide which approach to choose.
Wilberg said they will enter the preliminary design phase in the next few weeks. A design engineer will come up with what they call “30 percent construction plans,” which outline the project in detail, though leaves room for changes.
Though the town is unsure which plan they are going to use, Wilberg said they presented options from no improvements whatsoever to a major intersection reconstruction with a roundabout. Most likely, he said, they will find an option somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, such as enhanced stop signs with LED lights or adding traffic signals, like a flashing red light, rather than a traditional traffic light.
“Each of the proposed solutions for these problems carry with it benefits, and they carry drawbacks,” Wilberg said, such as property impacts and increased cost.
Wilberg said the public varied in feedback. Some were thrilled to hear about getting sidewalks. Others were opposed to stop lights, as they did not want to see flashing lights in their windows at night. He also said many liked the idea of a roundabout, but were opposed upon learning about the severity of construction.
There could be some changes to the neighborhood, such as removing a few utility poles and trimming some trees, he said.
“The best thing I can say is we encourage residents to come out,” Wilberg said. “The public meeting is a time for them to voice their concerns, and I like to see when the public does show up and say that.”
There will be another meeting for residents, most likely in the summer or early fall, to voice their opinions on a more concrete project.
Depending on what project is determined, construction could happen in 2024 or 2025.
shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a Hartford police report. The vehicle hit at least one other car, according to a witness.
The report stated that Comey “reeked” of booze and her bloodalcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit following the rollover crash. She told police she left a restaurant near the Capitol, but she would not specify the exact location, according to the report.
On Friday, Comey was stripped of her committee membership and House leadership posts. A small business owner, the 55-year-old Comey was named assistant majority whip. She was a member of the Committee on Children; the Education Committee; and the Human Services Committee.
“This was an extremely dangerous situation and somebody could have been seriously injured, including Rep. Comey,” Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said Friday. “I hope she focuses on her health and well-being and I know that her friends and colleagues will support her in any way we can.”
In June 2021, Comey apologized to her colleagues after appearing intoxicated on the floor of the House of Representatives, losing her place during the discussion of a bill on children. In a Friday interview, Ritter said two years ago, legislative leaders banned events with alcohol from the state Capitol.
Ritter described Comey as “a very good friend of mine,” for whom he cares deeply. “I will do my job and what’s best for the caucus,” he said of the demotions. “There is also a lot of thoughts and prayers right now, and we’re going to help her.”
Comey will continue her work in the legislature as she seeks treatment, according to her attorney, Charles Tiernan of the New Haven law firm Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante.
“She has a staff that will handle her constituent activities,” Tiernan said.