WESTPORT, Conn. – A crosswalk that's closer to the Shake Shack on Westport’s Post Road East is set to be installed this summer by the state Department of Transportation in hopes of improving pedestrian safety.
The crosswalk will span Route 1 on the east side of Bulkey Avenue, from the corner of Bulkey Avenue South near the Mercury gas station, to the corner of Bulkey Avenue North near the office complex at 1835 Post Road E., which is adjacent to Shake Shack, DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said Tuesday.
“This is going to be more convenient for people walking to Shake Shack from across the street,” said Nursick.
A signaled crosswalk exists on the west side of Bulkey Avenue. However, people who park across the street from Shake Shack first need to cross Bulkey Avenue South, then the Post Road and finally Bulkey Avenue North to safely get to the popular eatery. As a result, Nursick said many people just cross the Post Road mid-block, which creates safety hazards.
Last month, Bruce Tabackman, a 68-year-old Fairfield resident, was fatally struck by a car as he tried to cross the Post Road near Shake Shack, 1849 Post Road E. Tabackman did not use the crosswalk, a preliminary police investigation showed. In November 2011, a 19-year-old Shake Shack employee was injured when she was hit by a car while crossing the street near restaurant instead of in the crosswalk.
“People will still have to walk 100 feet or so from the parking lot to get to the new crosswalk, but it’s critical that the public actually utilizes it,” Nursick said.
In addition to being closer to the restaurant, count-down signal heads will be installed at each end of the crosswalk, he said. These push-button signals will let pedestrians know how much time they have left to cross before traffic starts moving again. And when someone is crossing when directed, all four directions of traffic will be stopped, Nursick said.
Work on the crosswalk is expected to begin this summer and take a couple of weeks to complete, Nursick said. All work will be completed by DOT crews and paid for with state funds.
The project was supposed to be part of a larger series of traffic signal improvements to be made throughout Fairfield County beginning next year, Nursick said. However, DOT Commissioner James Redeker insisted the project be expedited.
“He’s very serious about safety,” Nursick said of Redeker. “When he saw work on the crosswalk wouldn’t be started until 2014 as part of the larger project, he intervened and said it was unacceptable.”
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