The Old Saybrook, Connecticut train station is less than a half-mile from a picturesque New England Main Street, but walking there is practically out of the question. The station itself is separated from the town’s main thoroughfares by a sea of parking lots and a maze of access roads. There is only one sidewalkFinding myself waiting for my ride from the station (my ride, naturally, was stuck in the parking lot that is Connecticut’s Interstate 95), I decided to venture away from the station yesterday to grab a bite to eat.
After walking through the parking lot, I searched endlessly for a sidewalk. Getting to Old Saybrook’s Main Street, which literally runs into the parking lot, is impossible from the train station – with no sidewalk leading directly to town. The one sidewalk out of the station parking lot runs along the side of a slip ramp toward the high-speed Boston Post Road (US 1), but requires crossing that dangerous ramp that cars often speed onto from the nearby railroad bridge. I wandered back toward the station and found a way out in the right direction – through a gap in the fence by a neighboring lot. Naturally, it wasn’t connected directly to the parking lot, but instead stops about ten feet from the parking lot pavement – immediately at the property line.
This pathway is on the property of the neighboring CVS Pharmacy. Often, these drugstores are knowing for plopping down unsightly parking lots in the middle of pedestrian-friendly areas. In this case, the CVS is setting the example that the town of Old Saybrook should be following.
The pathway runs across the parking lot, clearly delineated from the asphalt parking lot, and toward Boston Post Road.
It then connects to a sidewalk that runs along the two streets that the property abuts.
Of course, again, the developer had no ability to make this sidewalk fully ADA compliant in the scope of providing mobility beyond the property line. Adding curb cuts at the corner of the property would have forced the town to create a crosswalk and pedestrian signals at this corner, even though the existing town sidewalk on the opposite corner dumps the pedestrian in the middle of a busy side street. There are no curb cuts, and the CVS sidewalk only ties into the town’s sidewalk on one end of the property – by the aforementioned slip ramp.
Despite the faults with the CVS sidewalk, any sidewalk is better than no sidewalk. And with no obstructions and a comfortable buffer from the shoulder-less street, it’s leaps and bounds beyond the town-constructed sidewalk just 50 feet away:
What’s amusing is that CVS likely added these elements to the store design in order to win the approval of the town’s Planning Board. Yet the town doesn’t practice what they preach. Old Saybrook might want to consider the CVS approach to pedestrian mobility. Without them, I’d still be trapped in the train station parking lot – or in worse condition for trying to escape.