Yesterday, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez, and Director of Social Services Iris Molina joined AARP volunteers and Tri-State Transportation Campaign staff to examine pedestrian conditions on a half-mile stretch of East Main Street between Crescent Avenue and Stillman Avenue.
Volunteers used an AARP-provided survey to note intersection and sidewalk conditions, driver behavior, the comfort and appeal of the corridor and any safety issues they encountered. The corridor includes the East Side Senior Center and a planned senior center on Barnum Avenue, as well as a Greater Bridgeport Transit bus route (Route 9) and several small businesses. It is also just north of the planned Steel Point redevelopment project.
Before joining volunteers to walk part of the corridor, Mayor Finch told them the City “would like to have fewer cars” on the streets and create an atmosphere where “you can park your car in a lot or park your car on the street and walk.” He expressed hope that Bridgeport could experiment with inexpensive, quick traffic calming measures that would make it safer to cross the street, as has been done in other cities. Finch also touted BConnected [B stands for Bridgeport], a smartphone application that residents can use to report problems to the city. (Service requests can also be entered from a computer.) TSTC staff reported several concerns via the app during the course of the audit.
Volunteers had no trouble identifying areas that needed improvement, including faded crosswalks, not enough places to cross East Main Street, and a lack of amenities like benches and bus shelters. The roads and sidewalks flanking the viaduct that carries the New Haven Line over East Main was a particularly problematic area.
Volunteers described their findings at a wrap-up session at the City’s Department of Health and Social Services building. AARP and Tri-State will compile the findings of the walk into a report, which will be shared with the City and used as an outreach tool to build local support for better walking conditions.