Residents living along Route 1 continue to be vocal about the need for increased safety measures along the Post Road as the state prepares to embark on a repaving project. Local leaders had hoped the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s plan to repave the Post Road from Norwalk to Stamford would allow for new traffic control measures to be installed in Darien.
Given just a few months notice for the repaving project, officials have come into conflict over which improvements would be appropriate and the town is still looking for solutions with milling expected to start on the road this week. Town officials had originally looked into implementing a road diet, decreasing the amount of available lanes along the Post Road and potentially making the traffic more manageable for pedestrians and the residential areas along Route 1. The road diet was originally part of the South Western Regional Planning Agency’s Route 1 Corridor Study which also included several other recommended improvements.
However, a town peer reviewer found that implementing a diet could cause bottlenecking at certain intersections, specifically at Nearwater Lane. The reviewer also questioned the traffic counts used in the SWRPA study, which does not include information on peak traffic periods along the Post Road. Based on the peer review the town’s police commission opted to vote against the implementation of a road diet but the commission and Board of Selectmen are still looking into specific areas where safety measures can be improved along the street.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting last week, neighbors expressed their frustration with the conditions on the street and the lack of protection for young pedestrians walking along the busy street. Local landmarks like the YMCA, Hindley School, Darien Library and new hotspots like Shake Shack bring teens up and down the Post Road but there is little in the way of crosswalks to protect them as they travel. The area of the Post Road known as “the flats” coming from the Stamford-border was specifically mentioned as a zone where cars will constantly pick up speed with nothing to impede them until they reach Nearwater Lane.
- “Our kids are walking down there and taking their lives into their own hands and it’s not fair; and if the state really cares about safety, then let’s go with safety first.” resident Joe Calve said.
While acknowledging the concerns of local residents, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson explained that the Connecticut Department of Transportation owns and maintains Route 1 and ultimately has the final say on traffic control measures. She noted that while the Board of Selectmen is primarily focused on the safety of Darien’s residents, the state department has a vested interest in maintaining traffic flow along Route 1 and the I-95 corridor. Stevenson also said that while new traffic control measures are important for safety, they cannot be implemented solely to slow traffic along the road.
Selectman Rob Richards pushed back against the idea that Darien’s portion of Route 1 should be seen as an alternate route to I-95. Richards proposed coloring the inside lane of Route 1 to create passing only lanes, creating the perception of a road diet by encouraging drivers to say in one lane. He suggested that Darien should prioritize safety for itself through the means that are available, though it will take additional time for the state to field his proposal.
“I applaud all you guys for being optimistic, including Rob, because that’s how we’ve gotten a lot of things done, and I think we need to be realists,” Selectman Susan Marks said on Monday. “…the realistic part is that this will take time, it’s not going to happen overnight. I think everyone is getting a taste of what it’s like dealing with the state, unfortunately.”
While the implementation of a road diet is likely impossible alongside the current repaving project, the Board of Selectmen and Police Commission are reviewing several improvements at specific locations along Post Road including speed monitoring devices and new crosswalks. Residents believe that decreasing the speed of drivers along the Post Road is the key to increasing safety for pedestrians in the area and hope that the increased awareness of the problem will encourage drivers to slow down along Route 1.