Town finds quick fix to ease parking congestion
Saturday, November 29, 2008 6:25 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
OLD SAYBROOK — After seeing an increase in train commuters this spring — and a jammed parking situation on North Main Street — officials say they have found a short-term fix for the problem.
By widening the street and reclaiming a piece of town property where the owners of Lighthouse Cleaners had planted wildflowers, the town was able to add 25 to 29 parking spaces near the train station, Deputy Police Chief Michael Spera said.
Following a meeting with Amtrak and state Department of Transportation officials, Police Chief Edmund Mosca and Public Works Director Larry Bonin decided to move ahead with the work to provide some immediate relief for commuters, who can board Amtrak and Shore Line East trains from the station.
But Spera said the town is still hoping the DOT will increase parking at the site in the future, as the number of train riders continues to grow.
“It seemed like everything that the state had to do they were interested in doing, but it would take quite some time for them to accomplish our goals,” Spera said. “We believe we’ve come up with a solution for our short-term problem and we’re hoping that the state of Connecticut will follow our lead and come up with some sort of long-term solution.”
He added that further work could include a parking garage or restriping the existing lot to increase the number of spots.
Earlier this year, drivers were encountering cars parked all the way down North Main Street to the Boston Post Road.
Spera said that the Police Department received complaints about the situation and some businesses were affected by the lack of parking.
“It was jammed and just completely unsafe,” he said. “People were doing what they had to do to park and commute. Every government says to everyone, ‘Well, let’s limit your carbon footprint, let’s commute,’ but we weren’t providing people with a spot to park to do that.’”
Since adding the parking spots, the parking issues have abated, Spera said.
“I think the problem is done for now. However, I think it all really depends on the price of gas,” he said. “I also think that once people have seen the success and ease of commuting to work via rail, I think more and more people are going to do it.”