NORWALK, Conn. – The city will be implementing a number of projects in an effort to make South Norwalk more friendly for bikes and pedestrians.
The projects will be funded through a combination of money from the state Department of Transportation and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the Department of Public Works have been working with CDM Smith to improve pedestrian access to the train station, enhance the stair networks near the South Norwalk train station, and make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Paul Schmidt, principal civil engineer for CDM Smith, said a number of priority projects were identified in a Transit Oriented District study that the city conducted last year.
The first projects will be the construction of new stairways at Hamilton Street and Martin Luther King Drive, and at Clay Street and Martin Luther King Drive. These projects will include new stairways with troughs to walk bicycles up, as well as new lighting, security cameras, blue light emergency call boxes, and enhanced streetscaping, Schmidt said. The stairway at Clay Street will be constructed in the fall, and the one at Hamilton Street in 2015.
The next projects that will move forward will be enhancements on Monroe Street, which will include reconfiguration of the lighting as well as replacement of sidewalks between South Main Street and Martin Luther King Drive. Schmidt said there are plans to add an exclusive bike lane on the north and south side of the road, as well as reconfiguring the crosswalks and pedestrian ramps at State Street and narrowing the roadway and shortening the walking distance at the crosswalk.
Schmidt said they are talking with the police department about converting some of the police-only parking along Monroe Street to street parking of nearby shops.
Improvements along Washington Street from Martin Luther King Drive to North and South Main Street are not yet funded but are still being developed. They include bump outs of the crosswalks, additional landscaping, lighting enhancements and sidewalk replacement. There is also talk about more street parking and shared bike lanes.
David Sousa, senior planner and landscape architect for CDM Smith, said adding on-street parking to the north side of Washington Street can help slow traffic.
“The wider the street, the more people are encouraged to drive at faster speeds,” Sousa said. “By limiting the operating space of vehicles, people automatically, psychologically, slow down.”
Sousa said other cities that have implemented similar plans have not experienced a slowing down in the time it takes cars to travel through the city. He said that studies show it takes the same amount of time to travel, and that it often reduces accidents, while encouraging people to use other means of transportation such as walking or bicycling.