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Greenwich Residents Try To Ease Byram Traffic

GREENWICH, Conn. – Anyone who has driven the main strip in the Byram section of Greenwich during rush hour knows how congested traffic can be. Neighborhood residents want the town to start addressing the traffic issue, beginning with cutaway streets such as New Lebanon Avenue.

Byram is a heavily used pedestrian community in the downtown area. Melissa Evans, Greenwich’s traffic operations coordinator, said the Byram Neighborhood Association contacted her office to discuss issues with traffic and walking routes kids use to get to New Lebanon School.

“We came across this issue with New Lebanon Avenue, where there is only a sidewalk on one side. And often cars are parked up on the sidewalk, dumpsters are on the sidewalk, making it difficult to maneuver. And it makes it difficult for kids,” said Evans.

Michael Bocchino, president of the Neighborhood Association of Byram, said its concern was to secure the school, baseball field and Byram Shubert Library zones for kids and seniors who walk on New Lebanon Avenue to William Street near those facilities. “Due to the fact that the community is older, roadways are narrow. In order to create safer environment for the school children, [renovating] the sidewalk would create problems with parking,” said Bocchino.

The town’s traffic operations department is proposing a three-month trial period in which New Lebanon Street would temporarily become a one-way, southbound only road. Several signs would be needed during the trial period to alert drivers. The Board of Selectmen will be voting on the issue at its March 15 meeting to make the deadline for the Representative Town Meeting’s April agenda.

Members of the traffic section of the Greenwich Police Department, including Sgt. John Slusarz, conducted a traffic and speed count in the area. They found speeding was elevated where New Lebanon intersects with William Street.

“We found many people were using William Street [northbound] to New Lebanon as a means to bypass the light on Mead Avenue and Delavan Avenue,” said Slusarz. “By making New Lebanon a one-way going south, it would reduce that, thereby those extra vehicles wouldn’t be speeding in that area.”

Automatic traffic recorders were put on William Street in June 2011 and found 85 percent of vehicles traveling east on the road were driving 37 mph. The posted speed limit is 25 mph. Slusarz said, “We feel that traffic restricted to southbound on New Lebanon will have some additional positive affects to traffic in the area."

Evans said that when they spoke to neighbors in the area, one resident of 18 Wessels said she was not opposed to going through a three-month trial period. “But she wanted us to recognize it would be an inconvenience to go into town or to the highway,” said Evans.

Kory Wollins, owner of Burger Shakes and Fries at New Lebanon Avenue and Delavan Avenue, told Evans that if the road were changing to one way, he would prefer it be southbound, toward the school.

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