Old Greenwich train station works producing frustration, not collisions

October 24, 2016 GMT

GREENWICH — While aggravation and traffic delays have accompanied the large-scale renovation project around the Old Greenwich train station, traffic accidents have not increased.

That was the finding of a Greenwich Police Department review of the busy Sound Beach Avenue corridor since construction began in the summer.

The $14.87 million project is replacing the aged railroad bridges at Tomac and Sound View avenues, and making other improvements at the Old Greenwich station. Lane closures on Sound Beach Avenue, and the closing of some pedestrian routes, have been necessitated by the work.

“It’s caused a lot of grief to the residents and the merchants, but it hasn’t caused a spike in accidents,” said Sgt. John Slusarz of the Greenwich Police Department, who heads the Traffic Division.

Roughly the same number of accidents were logged during the relevant stretch of time last year, 37, as this year, 35. Those numbers include any type of accident that generated a police report.

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The new traffic pattern caused by the renovation project has led to more conflicts between motorists and pedestrians, especially around rush-hour. Police have also been dispatched to the area at certain times to direct the flow of drivers and pedestrians. Back-ups heading into the business district on Sound Beach Avenue sometimes run for blocks.

The work is still causing concern. Sidewalks in the area are in a poor state of repair.

An Old Greenwich community leader, Meg Nolan Van Reesema, said local residents would like to see a greater sense of urgency and determination toward getting the work done.

“While I’m thrilled to learn accidents are not increasing, I do see the broken sidewalk as a legitimate hazard and am perplexed by the slow progress being currently made to both bridges,” observed Van Reesema, president of the Old Greenwich Association.

“Despite the warm temps, winter is coming, and I’d like to think there will be significant headway made before weather becomes a deterrent to further progress,” she added.

The Old Greenwich Association is having its annual meeting Nov. 9, and the organization is hoping to get representatives from Town Hall and the Connecticut Department of Transportation to attend and answer questions.

The next phase of the project will see a number of changes to the stairs at the station in coming days. Temporary closures of the stairs and ramp at the west end of the northbound platform will take place over the next two weeks. A new temporary ramp will be installed as a result of that closure, according to the project managers. Nighttime operations will have work crews removing the pedestrian platform extensions.

Periodic lane closures will also continue during the month, at Sound Beach Avenue and Tomac Avenue, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Besides replacing the two old railroad bridges in Old Greenwich, more parking is being added. The number of parking spaces will go from the existing 99 spaces to 220. New platforms and stairs are also being constructed, and new lighting installed.

The project is currently scheduled for completion in July 2017.

Robert.Marchant@scni.com