Post Road Death Sparks Need For Changes In Westport

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Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff is urging the state DOT to move forward with plans to install a new crosswalk on the eastern side of the Post Road East/Bulkley Avenue intersection. Photo Credit: File: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. – In the wake of Saturday’s fatal Post Road pedestrian accident, Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff is urging the state Department of Transportation to expedite plans to add a crosswalk to the easterly side of the Post Road East/Bulkey Avenue intersection.

“This project adding an additional crosswalk in the area has been in the works for some time now and obviously takes on added urgency with this weekend’s tragic death,” Joseloff said in a statement.

Just after 6 p.m. Saturday, 68-year-old Bruce Tabackman of Fairfield was struck by a car on the Post Road near Bulkey Avenue North, not far from Shake Shack at 1849 Post Road E., police said. Tabackman was taken to Norwalk Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A preliminary police investigation showed Tabackman was not in a crosswalk at time of the accident. There is currently a crosswalk on the west side of the Post Road/Bulkey Avenue intersection.

The Shake Shack parking lot sometimes fills up, prompting employees and patrons of the popular restaurant to park across the street at Westport Plaza.

Joseloff on Monday toured the area where the accident occurred, met with the general manager at Shake Shack and spoke with the restaurant’s senior director of operations in New York. He also met with Westport Police Chief Dale Call and Public Works Director Stephen Edwards to discuss safety improvements to the area.

“The reality is that even with the proposed addition of a crosswalk across Post Road East on the east side of Bulkley Avenue, there will still be a temptation for some people to avoid the short walk to the crosswalk and dart across that busy roadway,” Joseloff said.

In November 2011, a 19-year-old Shake Shack employee was injured after she was hit by a car while crossing Post Road near the restaurant. The woman did not use the existing crosswalk on the west side of the Post Road/Bulkley Avenue intersection and was found at fault in the accident.

In offering a short term solution, Joseloff suggested the restaurant look into adding more parking on its side street. In order to do this, the restaurant would have to make arrangements with adjoining property owners, Joseloff said.

He said he also suggested Shake Shack add signs inside and outside the restaurant warning its customers of the dangers of not using a crosswalk.

Since the restaurant opened in July 2011, Joseloff said it periodically hired private security guards to help with parking on its property. These guards also helped customers who parked across the street safely cross.

However, the restaurant stopped doing that when the state said Shake Shack employees had no authority to stop traffic on the Post Road to allow pedestrians to cross, Joseloff said.

“We’re looking into that aspect as well,” Joseloff said.

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