Friday Flashback #123

The other day, town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz moved a Westport Public Art Collection painting from the Parks & Recreation office to Town Hall.

“Up by Daybreak Nursery” — done by noted Westport artist Howard Munce in 1989 — showed the weird Weston Road/Easton Road/Main Street intersection, near Merritt Parkway Exit 42.

On the back, Kathie noticed a few interesting things:

The note on the left — written by Howard in December of 1999 — said:

In 1989 I came upon this scene and quickly went home for my camera.

The locale is at the convergence of Rt. 136 and Rt. 57 — just opposite the Daybreak Nursery.

When former 1st Selectman Bill Seiden saw it he said “Worst traffic situation in town.” Many agree.

Since this painting was done, the nursery has built and planted a mound on the small island that separate the two roads. Also, the Merritt Parkway entrance has been redesigned, causing greater complication at the corner.

Happy motoring. Howard Munce.

Equally fascinating were these “Street Beat” interviews from the December 2, 1999 Minuteman newspaper. The question was: “Which is the most dangerous intersection in Westport?”

On the left, Jim Izzo — owner of Crossroads Ace Hardware — described nearby Main Street and Canal Road. “There is an accident every 2 weeks or so, some kind of fender-bender or something,” he said.

Sid Goldstein nominated Wilton Road and Kings Highway North, because of its narrow turning lane onto Wilton (since improved), and “drivers stop too close to the yellow line on Route 33 heading south” (still an issue).

Nancy Roberts of Wilton said it was the very intersection that Munce had painted: “The merge is laid out so that it confuses people, and not everyone stops properly.”

Todd Woodard — a Tacos or What? employee — thought it was Post Road East, where Roseville and Hillspoint Roads were not aligned properly. Plus, he said, the “big dip” on Roseville makes it hard for visibility. Also the two restaurants’ driveways are poorly placed within the intersection.”

Finally, Chris Cullen — who worked in marketing — pointed to North Compo and the Post Road. “They should make a right turn lane” on North Compo, he said, “because traffic gets backed up very easily.”

Those comments were made 20 years ago. Many are still relevant today.

And probably will be in 2039, too.

9 responses to “Friday Flashback #123

  1. I grew up on Easton Road not far from that intersection in the 1960s/early 1970s and I don’t recall any major traffic issues back then. And, in 1977, I had a summer job in downtown Stamford that I drove to every weekday on the Merritt—and, again, I have no recollection of traffic problems at that intersection (or on the Merritt, for that matter. It was a short, pleasant drive—a description I don’t think anyone driving at rush hour today would use.)

    But something must have changed in roughly 5-6 years after that because I know there was some initial discussion and exploration circa 1983 of adding an entrance ramp to the Merritt on Easton Road on the side going towards New Haven. There might have even been an exploration of adding an exit ramp on Easton Road (coming from New Haven), but that I am less certain of.

    Does anyone else have any memories of that?

  2. Older Westporters might remember when the vacant land on the corner of Weston Rd and Easton Rd was used as a bivouac area for military convoys traveling along the almost new Merritt Pky (early 1940’s).

  3. Sal Liccione

    It’s good see jimmy in the newspaper then

  4. Jack Whittle

    Every time I drive (navigate?) through that Weston Road / Main Street intersection I tell my kids “mark my words – one day before I die this will be a rotary”. I’ve been saying that for over 17 years now . . . perhaps I won’t live to see it fixed. Hands down the worst intersection in town; it relies on drivers knowing and abiding by the unwritten rules that pertain only to that intersection.

    • I think that too, Jack. But I have heard comments that because it is so confusing, odd and dangerous, everyone slows down and proceeds with caution. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an accident there. Of course, I could be totally off base. I’m just sayin’, that’s what I’ve heard — totally counterintuitively, of course.

    • my dislike of this intersection isn’t so much because it’s dangerous, rather because it’s so inefficient and disfunctional – my take is it is well-suited for a rotary, but I am no traffic engineer.

  5. WestportNow should do a street beat- that was always fun to read,

  6. Nancy Roberts

    Well, I have a story to tell. Just last week I was driving through that very intersection with the newest driver in our household (daughter, age 16) and when she announced how overwhelming that intersection is, I told her about the time a “man on the street” reporter from Westport News stopped me and asked me that question. I still remember it was in Sconset Square (when there used to be a camera store there) and I was 8+ months pregnant with her older sister. I was new in town and really had no idea what to say. But my answer was an homage to her grandfather, the late Dr. Gerald Roberts, a long time Westport resident. Remember him, Dan? Anyway, every time we would drive through that intersection, Jerry would announce, “this is the MOST DANGEROUS intersection in Westport!” To me, it was a bit of a private joke. 🙂

  7. Rosemary Bentley Milligan

    Maybe I was just lucky but for years I lived on Easton Road and then on North Compo so traveled this intersection many times and never saw an accident or anything even close.