A $1 Million Realignment On Route 136

The other day, signs were quietly posted near the intersection of Bayberry Lane and Easton Road (Route 136).

They announced a meeting for Wednesday, February 27 (7 p.m., Room 201, Town Hall).

Bayberry Lane/Route 136 sign

A nearby resident did some digging. She found a report, issued by the South Western Regional Planning Agency. To her surprise — and most Westporters’, I imagine — the tough, well-traveled intersection has already been extensively (and expensively) studied.

SWRPA’s engineering consultants — Milone & MacBroom — have come up with 4 alternatives.

Two are near-term:

  1. Realignment of 136 with Bayberry Lane, and installation of 3 stop signs ($922,000).
  2. Construction of a roundabout on 136, with a center “vegetated island’ ($973,000).

Two are long-term:

  1. Realignment of the intersection, making it perpendicular (think Post Road/Compo Road North and South), rather than the current  Bayberry Lane Extension “jog” (think Post Road/Trader Joe’s/CVS parking lots — though with stop signs, not lights) ($1.22 million)
  2. Realignment of the intersection as above, including a roundabout ($1.35 million).

SWRPA prefers the roundabout alternatives.

Near-term alternative #1, showing placement of 3 stop signs. (Courtesy of Milone & MacBroom)

Near-term alternative #1, showing placement of 3 stop signs. (Courtesy of Milone & MacBroom)

There are 2 challenges to realigning the road. One is the house at 300 Bayberry Lane, which apparently would have its front yard cut diagonally in half. The other is wetlands on the northwest corner of Bayberry and 136.

A traffic light is not an option. It’s a state road, and Connecticut tries to keep lights to a minimum.

Residents have long complained of speeders on 136 — especially during rush hour. (Many drivers use it to avoid the Merritt Parkway “no exit zone” between 44 and 42.) Most cars at least double the 20 mph sign displayed at the Bayberry Road curve.

Meanwhile, White Birch — which turns into Bayberry Lane at the Westport line — is a main thoroughfare for Weston residents hurrying south.

Long-term alternative #2. You can see the outline of the roundabout in the center, and the new entrance to Bayberry Lane Extension just north of it. (Courtesy of Milone & MacBroom)

Long-term alternative #2. You can see the outline of the roundabout in the center, and the new entrance to Bayberry Lane Extension just northwest of it. (Courtesy of Milone & MacBroom)

SWRPA’s realignment solutions are very expensive. Area residents — concerned about both traffic and cost — wonder why simple stop signs (with other signs warning of the stop sign) can’t do the trick. Cutting back trees, to improve sightlines, would also help.

All of those issues will be discussed on February 27 at Town Hall — just a few minutes down Easton Road, from Bayberry Lane.

Depending, of course, on traffic.

(Click here for SWRPA’s intersection study. Click here for SWRPA’s final study presentation.)

37 responses to “A $1 Million Realignment On Route 136

  1. I would think they would want to “shop” for pricing. It feels like paying $600 for a toilet seat.

  2. Great article, Dan. Whatever the outcome, people need to know and have a chance to participate.

  3. Speeding is an issue.
    $200,000 cops are an issue.
    …so, let’s build a $1 million dollar “roundabout”
    Looks like SWRPA, fresh from their great leadership on the Mahackeno development wants to screw up another part of town.
    I pity the poor homeowners who get in the way of this juggernaut of progress.

    • It sounds like you have lots of issues. But just for the record: SWRPA was never asked to aid in the planning – or to evaluate – Mahackeno. You can check their website, like Dan did in linking to this report: http://www.swrpa.org

      • Okay, thanks SWRPA Cronie.

      • News flash – SRPWA keeps powder dry on Mahackeno – saves it for big “roundabout” push on Bayberry Lane. Heck’of a Job!

        Sound about right?

      • DanzBuddy, not sure where you get your information but the SWRPA is definitely connected to the Mahackeno mess in a slightly “roundabout” way (get it?).

        No one wants to talk about it, though. And I realize that makes it sound like a crazy conspiracy theory. Dr PantLoad is one-hundred percent correct.

  4. How about the stop signs and speed bumps which did the job on Kings Highway in Old Hill?

    • Speed bumps on Easton Road?! Are you nuts?

      • I thought the same thing about kings highway but I’m so used to them I don’t even notice anymore but I do stop and I’m sure they cost less than a million dollars!
        Call me nuts but I can think of better things to with that money

      • Babette d'Yveine

        Are speed bumps permitted on a state road?

  5. We live in the neighborhood and were happy when we saw the signs go up on the study. We thought, however, that someone was going to do something about the dangerous, narrow curve a hundred yards further west (just to the left of all the photos) and not the Bayberry intersection (which is not great either). Drivers routinely cross over the yellow line as they speed around the curve and it’s a miracle that there aren’t daily head-on collisions. The road is too narrow and the blind curve is too tight.

    This plan totally misses the worst problem no matter which solution is chosen.

    • As someone who takes this exact drive to work every weekday, I can tell you that’s just your mind playing tricks on you.

      With the exception of a completely inept driver, there will always be enough room (maybe not enough for your liking) between both sides on that “blind curve,” which I would argue is not blind because of the signs warning drivers.

      It may feel narrow but you have to think of it both ways. While one side may be coming closer to oncoming traffic due to the tight curve, the other side is actually going away from the opposite side (toward Coleytown) because of how they are turning and because there is plenty of extra room to the right, near the guard rail, on that curve.

      Difficult to explain in writing but think about it next time you’re driving. It makes sense.

      • Not to start a flame war, but your exception of “completely inept drivers” comes closer to the rule. There is a drain on the northbound side that many people swerve to miss, pushing them into the other lane. Couple that with the people who park on the southbound shoulder (they fish there), the cell phone users and trucks who infringe on the other lane and it’s a prescription for disaster.

        By “blind curve” I mean one around which one can’t see, not one that appears out of nowhere. Signs don’t help.

        • Oh that drain!! That drain is the worst – the only thing making it worse is that it IS in fact on a blind curve. Am hopeful that if they put in stop signs by Bayberry that might slow down traffic enough to make that curve safer (but wish they would also fix the drain).

          And btw MM I am sure you are a great driver but it only takes one “inept” driver on the other side of the road to cause a collision and calling them “inept” probably isn’t going to fix that.

          • I have never had an issue with the drain. I guess I’ll be singing your tune if I’m the one almost hit next time. But all my years driving that curve, I haven’t had a problem.

            • The drain basically acts like a pothole. You know its coming and can run over it – but you cringe when you do and try to avoid if you can.

            • The other thing I’ll say is that I agree with you in general the road is not that bad – I don’t even mind the turn out of Bayberry Ext. I am a good driver and used to it. But there are out of town trucks that have never driven it etc. and that’s when it gets a bit scary. A few weeks ago I saw a landscaper blow through the stop sign on Old Redding. I think he just wasn’t expecting it.

    • Amen. Fix the curve

  6. Don’t use the Bayberry intersection much, so I really don’t have in-put, but when will the nightmare Easton Road/Weston Road/ Merritt Pkwy Exit 42, near Daybreak Nursery triangle be addressed? It is screaming for a round-about

    There are times when you put your life into other drivers hands, and we know how well that works!

    • It is a mess but short of completely redoing it — millions and millions of dollars — there is not much to do. If the drivers at the intersection actually did what they were supposed to, it wouldn’t be an issue. The traffic jams ironically happen when the well-intentioned, kind and courteous drivers stop right in the middle of the intersection to allow drivers from Main Street to merge into the opposite lane. It has a crippling chain reaction on those coming off the Merritt, which then creates a logjam on Weston Road. Drivers should proceed to the stop sign every single time. Not randomly stop in the middle of Weston road.

      • Strangely, there are very few accidents there. I’m told that precisely because it is so confusing, drivers — even those who know it well — proceed slowly and carefully through it. Counterintuitve, but true.

        • Fair enough, Dan.

          I could NOT imagine being someone completely new to that intersection and trying to weave through it. Probably give me a panic attack. So many cars coming at different directions… But I still contend that if people simply followed the current set-up, it would be easier.

  7. Its pretty tough trying to get out Southbound onto Main Street from Easton road as well. Most driveways coming up Main towards the Merritt either don’t use their turn signal or when there is traffic stop to let you go by. Sometimes cars will literally sit right in front of me when traffic is backed up from the stop sign instead of letting me pass through.

    • As Jim eluded to above, that is because they are following the current traffic flow set-up. Stopping midway between the stop sign and the traffic light, regardless of how many cars are in front of you, is a common mistake. The drivers mean well and are trying to allow people like you to merge, which is all well and good. But it actually creates more problems and extends the traffic backup.

      • I guess. But during rush hour that could mean I literally might NEVER get out. I’d rather they back-up traffic for a minute then feel like ANOTHER stop sign is needed on Main.

        • You could always go over the 4-way stop and turn left to avoid that. If you don’t want to wait. I have totally done it before.

  8. I live right off of Bayberry/White Birch so use it often. Initially I was happy when I saw the signs posted but then a bit horrified when I saw the study. We’ve been saying for years that they need to cut back some of the trees and maybe put in a 3 or 4 way stop. Seems pretty straightforward – we have them all over – one down on North and one up on Old Redding. Can’t believe we needed a study to tell us that? But either way I don’t really see a downside of the stop sign.

  9. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    Install speed monitoring cameras that will automatically/robotically ticket the offenders and watch the problem go away. After one or two tickets in the mail even wild men like Dan will slow down. Target the offender not the landscape. We have the technology. Take an annual vacation and drive as fast as you want on the autobahn and it (the need for speed) will miraculously leave your system.

    • I’m assuming you are joking? Or just not aware of Connecticut’s laws. From a WN article about the speed sign on Roseville:

      “Call said the sign also has the ability to take pictures of speeding cars but that state statutes do not authorize municipalities to issue speeding tickets or red light or stop sign violations based on pictures taken automatically.”

      http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2_5/comments/roseville_road_led_speed_sign_makes_a_difference/

      • Photo tickets are wrong

        And it has been found that the cameras create more errors and ticket the wrong vehicles. About the only ones who do okay are the companies that sell the cameras and equipment. Plus they make money off of them. The cities see limited return for all the hassle involved. FWIW that set up on Roseville is shooting microwave energy all the way to the intersection of Cross Highway. I hope the neighbors are okay with that too.

  10. Babette d'Yveine

    I take the Bayberry/136 route quite often. It’s next to impossible to make a left turn on 136 any time of the day. I think installing stop signs on 136 might help alleviate the problem without spending $1 million and taking away someone’s front lawn. There already are stop signs on Bayberry. A roundabout would help, too.

  11. I ride through this intersection on a bicycle regularly. Fortunately, I usually do it northbound at 4:00 a.m. and southbound at around 5:30 a.m., so there isn’t much traffic. But it is one of the most dangerous intersections in Westport. There are two blind curves, and two effectively separate semi-right angle intersections with extremely poor sight lines. Cars going either way on Bayberry cannot see around either of the blind curves. IT’s safer at night because you can see lights long before you see cars.

    The drain on the northbound side is life-threatening to a cyclist, and requires a wide swerve to avoid going down, and there is a stretch of unpatched extremely dangerous pitted pavement in the southbound lane that also threatens. The only safe way to ride through this is in the middle of the road so that no car can attempt to pass.

    And the points about speeding are correct. The driver of the grey SUV with kayak racks that passes me southbound most mornings, way too fast to allow me to read his plates, should have long since rolled his car given the speed at which he drives and the recklessness with which he tackles those two blind curves.

    By contrast, the intersection at Daybreak is the safest one in town. Because the configuration scares the bejeebers out of everybody, they approach with caution, and there are very few accidents. Dan’s point about this intersection is correct, and traffic engineers will tell you that the safest driving happens in places with complex intersections and stop signs or rotaries: things that force drivers to slow down. That, no doubt, is the science behind the proposals on offer.

    That said, there are plenty of stop signs in town that only exist so people can make left turns from side streets: for example on Roseville southbound, on North Ave northbound, on Newtown Turnpike westbound. The stop at Old Redding Road and 136 in Easton is a four way, and it makes that intersection much safer without materially delaying anybody. A four way stop at Bayberry and 136 would cost next to nothing, even with union labour, would require no expensive reconfiguration of the roads, and would address the lion’s share of the risk. Perhaps it would be worth a cheap experiment before committing $1mm or more.

    • Mr. Bruce,

      While the speed around that blind curve is definitely the biggest issue, it still does not address the blind curve itself. The sharpness and obscurity of that curve will never change, so may I recommend that you find a more straightforward path or route? Unless you prefer to risk your life every morning!

  12. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    (Jon Anderson/Steve Howe)

    I’ll be the round about
    The words will make you out ‘n’ out
    I’ll spend the day your way……
    Call it morning driving thru the sound and
    In and out the valley……

    The muses dance and sing
    They make the children really ring
    I’ll spend the day your way
    Call it morning driving thru the sound and
    In and out the valley…..

    In and around the lake
    Mountains come out of the sky
    and they Stand there
    One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you
    Ten true summers we’ll be there and
    Laughing too
    Twenty four before my love you’ll see I’ll be
    There with you

    I will remember you
    Your silhouette will charge the view
    Of distance atmosphere……
    Call it morning driving thru the sound and
    Even in the valley……

    In and around the lake
    Mountains come out of the sky
    and they Stand there
    One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you
    Ten true summers we’ll be there and
    Laughing too ooo oo oo
    Twenty four before my love you’ll see I’ll be
    There with you

    Along the drifting cloud the eagle searching
    Down on the land
    Catching the swirling wind the sailor sees
    The rim of the land
    The eagle’s dancing wings create as weather
    Spins out of hand

    Go closer hold the land feel partly no more
    Than grains of sand
    We stand to lose all time a thousand answers
    By in our hand
    Next to your deeper fears we stand
    Surrounded by million years

    I’ll be the roundabout
    The words will make you out ‘n’ out
    I’ll be the roundabout
    The words will make you out ‘n’ out……..

    In and around the lake
    Mountains come out of the sky they
    Stand there
    Twenty four before my love and I’ll be
    There……..

    I’ll be the roundabout
    The words will make you out ‘n’ out
    We spend the day your way
    Call it morning driving thru the sound and
    In and out the valley…. eh

    In and around the lake
    Mountains come out of the sky and they
    Stand there
    One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see You
    Ten true summers we’ll be there and
    Laughing too ooo
    Twenty four before my love you’ll see I’ll be
    There with you…..

    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da
    Da da da da daaa da da