Another Death on Connecticut’s Most Dangerous Road Expedites Safety Improvements

Route 1 (Post Road East) in Westport, near where a pedestrian was struck and killed on Saturday. (The “A” marker is the Shake Shack restaurant in front of which Bruce Tabackman was struck.) | Image: Google Maps.

WestportNow and others report the death of another pedestrian on Route 1 (Post Road East), which according to Tri-State’s Most Dangerous Roads report ranks as the most dangerous road in Connecticut for walking. WestportNow reports that 68-year-old Bruce Tabackman was struck around 6 p.m. last Saturday on Route 1 near the popular Shake Shack restaurant.

While the circumstances of every pedestrian fatality are unique, a look at the area where the crash occurred shows that this stretch of Route 1 has many of the characteristics that have made it the state’s deadliest road for walking since 2008. At the location of this most recent fatality, the road has four lanes of traffic and a design that enables speeds in excess of the posted 35 mph limit. It is lined with destinations (such as Shake Shack and a Stop & Shop supermarket) that people attempt to reach on foot, but it lacks the infrastructure to safely and comfortably accommodate walking. Multiple pedestrians have been struck on this part of Route 1 in recent years.

After the crash, Westport Police Chief Dale Call pleaded for people to “use a crosswalk when available.” This is a sensible suggestion, but to reach the nearest marked crosswalk, a person across the street from Shake Shack would need to walk roughly 350 feet west — about the length of a football field including end zones — on a route with missing sidewalks, and then cross Bulkley Avenue South, which has no marked crosswalk. To get to the restaurant after crossing Route 1, he or she would then need to make their way back east and cross Bulkley Avenue North in two places, neither of which has a marked crosswalk or ADA-appropriate sidewalk ramps.

State and local officials have recognized this and called for infrastructure fixes after this and other recent deaths. Earlier this year, Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and town officials sat down with ConnDOT to work out potential solutions. According to The Hour, ConnDOT will now seek to expedite plans to extend sidewalks and install an additional crosswalk at the intersection of Route 1 and Bulkley Avenue. And in a letter to the Westport Daily Voice,  State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) wrote that “we… [should] resolve to be better citizens and neighbors by insisting on a municipal initiative to address both the specific spots where accidents seem likely to occur and a more general assessment of traffic safety in Westport.”  The Shake Shack restaurant has also offered to contribute to the cost of improvements, according to The Hour.

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