Traffic calming, Greenwich style
Our DPW has a plan to eliminate the triangle at the intersection on North Street and Fairfield Road and yesterday they held a public hearing to allow residents to comment. Which they did, and their comments were all negative, disputing the “hazard” the DPW claims its project will eliminate and vociferously objecting to the lane widening the plan will require. According to Greenwich Time,
DPW has been working toward reconfiguration of the intersection since 2007, having explored improvements twice before with neither project coming to fruition. Now, officials said the time is right for significant changes thanks to a grant received through the DOT’s Local Accident Reduction Program. The grant would cover 90 percent of the project’s cost, an estimated $314,000.
The availability of other peoples’ money (or, in the case of Greenwich, recovery of stolen property) raised suspicions among the residents, suspicions that are probably justified:
“The town has this overwhelming need to fix something that’s not broken,” said Bruce Dixon, a District 11 member and a former traffic operations supervisor for the DPW’s now-defunctTraffic Engineering Division.
“People are saying this is money in chase of a project,” said District 11 chair Despina Fassuliotis.
Right. But acknowledging that I know nothing about traffic safety (although quite a bit about government spending and bureaucracies), I was struck by the reaction of the DPW to the residents’ concerns which was, basically, “take a hike”.
[T]he DPW isn’t budging: Officials said they had made minor alterations to their initial designs after a March 27 public hearing, but the project is now largely set. To them, Tuesday’s public hearing is an opportunity to dispel misunderstandings they said have dogged the project.
“We’ve seen a lot of information,” said Town Chief Engineer Jim Michel, “and some of it has been misinformation. We want to make sure everyone is clear on all the data and all the different positions, and reasons we’re doing this.”
So in effect, all the notices of a “public hearing”, including signs posted at the intersection in question, were nothing more than an announcement that the DPW has made up its mind and the public was invited to vent their opposition and the reasons therefor onto deaf ears.
Big cities aren’t expected to listen to their citizens but, at one time, small municipalities like Greenwich were.
Peter Tesei was unavailable for comment.