Beach residents plan neighborhood traffic study
Though town officials have been taking steps to address traffic issues in the beach area, the Fairfield Beach Residents Association is launching a traffic study of its own.
Traffic monitors, counting the number of cars and their speed, have been placed in eight areas around Fairfield Beach and Reef Roads. "The study is being done to provide proof that there are certain traffic problems in the beach district that need to be addressed by the town of Fairfield," said Paige Herman, chairman of the FBRA. The neighborhood group has committed $9,000 for the study.
Police Chief David Peck said he and Deputy Chief Gary MacNamara discussed the effort association members and Michael Galante, from the firm doing the traffic study, before it began. "They're doing vehicle counts, pedestrian counts," Peck said.
The study could show that nothing major needs to be done, Peck said, or it could show drastic changes are needed. "They're going in there with an open mind and no agenda," he said.
Peck said officials welcome the additional information. "They have more expertise than we do," he said. "We're not traffic engineers."
Herman said the study will also include volunteers from the association conducting a pedestrian and bike survey. "This is part of a costly undertaking by the Fairfield Beach Residents Association to access pedestrian/bike volume," Herman said, which dovetails with a new established town board.
Earlier this month, the Board of Selectmen appointed the members of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Study Plan Advisory Committee, at the urging of the Bike/Walk Coalition, founded by FBRA member Alyssa Israel.
According to Lauren Lanham, from the first selectman's office, the committee will assist the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, which is conducting the townwide bicycle/pedestrian study at no cost to the town. The study is expected to last about eight months, and the committee will collect traffic and accident data, single out neighborhoods with high pedestrian and bike activity and come up with plans to bolster bike and pedestrian trails.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood association's safety committee is focusing on defining "traffic calming solutions," the number of sidewalks and better traffic signs and street markings.
The town has received federal funding to install sidewalks on the north side of Fairfield Beach Road from Rowland Road to Burr Court, and that work is expected to be done this spring.
Two years ago, terra cotta-colored traffic "islands" were installed on Fairfield Beach Road. Unlike typical traffic islands, they are flush with the road surface. The "islands" are designed to be visually help slow traffic on the road, and were installed after meetings between town officials and the neighborhood association. New crosswalks were also installed.
Peck said it's hard to measure whether the faux traffic islands have been effective, but added that he hopes the study will provide that data.