Tag Archives: Merritt Parkway Exit 42

New Exit Numbers May Drive Us Crazy

Since the 1950s — through name changes (Connecticut Turnpike  to Thruway to I-95), changes in speed limits and the removal of tolls — 2 things remained constant: Exit 17 was in Saugatuck, Exit 18 in Greens Farms.

For even longer — as Merritt Parkway signs changed from wood to metal, and actual arrows were replaced by symbolic ones — Westporters have known  2 truths: Exit 41 was near Wilton, Exit 42 by Weston.

As we’ve seen in many other areas of life, things are not always what they seem. There can be more than one “truth.”

Federal regulations mandate changes, for uniformity and emergency response reasons. With exits marked by miles from a standardized point — in these cases, Mile 0.0 at the New York state border — rather than simple numerical order,* I-95 exit 17 could  become Exit 18. The current Exit 18 would be Exit 20.

Exit 27 will now be Exit 1.

More drastically, Merritt Parkway Exit 41 would be renumbered Exit 21. Exit 42 would turn into Exit 22.

The dramatic — and so far, unreported — information comes from Neil Brickley. The 1971 Staples High School graduate is a civil engineer. His Wethersfield firm, Close, Jensen & Miller, works closely with the state Department of Transportation.

The mileage calculations are Brickley’s. They’re not yet official.

He notes that similar renumbering on limited access highways has already taken place in both eastern Connecticut, and the Middletown area.

The new Exit 18.

However, there’s good news for traditionalists. The Merritt Parkway project will not begin until 2025. I-95 will not be renumbered until 2029.

And once they’re done, signs with both the new and old numbers will remain for at least 2 years.

(Want to knw more? Click here, for a state DOT Frequently Asked Questions page.)

*There is no Merritt Parkway Exit 43 in Fairfield/ Legend has it that Greenfield Hill residents objected to on- and off-ramps in their neighborhood. When plans were scrapped, numbers had a already been assigned. Exit 43 was simply eliminated.

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“Most Confusing Intersection” Improvement Plan Begins

Westporters learn to carefully navigate it. Visitors coming off Merritt Parkway Exit 42 are completely flummoxed by it.

At last — after decades of confusion — the Route 57 (Main Street)/Route 136 (Easton Road and Weston Road) cluster**** may get some improvement.

The state Department of Transportation has designed a plan. They’ll discuss it in a virtual public information program this Thursday (June 9, 7 p.m.), with a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

The meeting will be recorded. To access the meeting, provide comments or ask questions, click here (then scroll down to “Live Event Links”).

The plan includes replacing the existing flashing light with a full traffic signal, and widening the road.

The state Department of Transportation plan. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

Right-of-way impacts could include partial land acquisitions and easements.

The project is in the early stages of concept development. No funding or schedule has been identified. The public meeting is to discuss feasibility and solicit feedback.

 

6 Roundabouts May Ease Traffic Woes

Town officials have already discussed a variety of uses for Westport’s $8.4 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds: the jetty at Burying Hill Beach, aid to non-profit organizations, and plans for low-density affordable housing.

Next up: traffic mitigation.

Specifically: roundabouts.

A new traffic pattern — circular, around a central island — has long been proposed for the Weston Road/Main Street/Easton Road cluster*** near Merritt Parkway Exit 42.

The very confusing — and dangerous — Main Street/Weston Road/Easton Road intersection.

Soon, the Board of Selectwomen and Public Works Department will request money to make that a reality.

As well as 5 other notoriously bad intersections in town.

Roundabouts will be proposed for:

  • The notorious “worst in the state” Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road mess
  • Riverside Avenue and Bridge Street, at the foot of the Cribari Bridge
  • The Compo Shopping Center (“CVS”)/Compo Acres (“Trader Joe’s”) misaligned entrances/exits on the Post Road
  • The nearly-as-bad Compo Acres exit onto South Compo Road, at the west end of the plaza
  • The North Avenue/Cross Highway 4-way stop, midway between 4 Westport schools.

A roundabout in the Post Road would prevent cars from entering the wrong way.

“We understand  that while the Merritt Parkway project is fairly straightforward, with plans already designed, the others are more complex,” the Board of Selectwomen say in a prepared statement.

“In fact, all of the others will involve taking some land by eminent domain. The Wilton Road and Cribari Bridge projects, for example, may necessitate the removal of some already existing buildings.

“While eminent domain is not necessarily the easiest path to pursue, we believe that ultimately these improvements will benefit all Westporters. We pledge to work with any affected businesses to find new locations, and to do so in a way that lessens any adverse impact on them.”

The statement adds, “While we know some of these designs will be tight, we are confident that our professionals can make them work.”

The proposal goes next to the Planning & Zoning Commission, then the RTM. Click here to see drawings of all 6 roundabouts.

Due to space constraints, Westport’s roundabout islands would not be as large as this example.

Pic Of The Day #1115

Merritt Parkway Exit 42 commuter lot (Photo/Sandra Calise Cenatiempo)

Merritt Parkway Work: The End Is Not Near

Construction work on the Merritt Parkway — from before Exit 41 to beyond Exit 42 — has been going on, it seems since dinosaurs and Studebakers roamed the earth.

The $56 million project includes upgrades to pavement, guardrails and drainage, and restoration of “historic concrete.”

It’s bad enough for drivers (who must navigate frighteningly tight concrete barriers, including on- and off-ramps) and residents (who have endured noise, dust and the destruction of acres of woodlands).

Concrete barriers and no shoulders make driving on the Merritt Parkway a life-in-your-hands experience. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

But right now, work seems stalled. What’s happening? When will it resume? And how long will it take?

I asked Jonathan Steinberg, Westport’s state representative. He sits on the Transportation Committee, and lives not far from the endless mess.

A Department of Transportation representative told him that right now, there’s a restriction: Work cannot proceed after 11 p.m.

Because of that, the contractor — Manafort Brothers — has stopped work altogether. They say that with just a 3 1/2-hour night window, the project is not feasible. (Work cannot begin until 7:30 p.m., after rush hour.)

“It’s a tough spot,” the DOT rep wrote to Steinberg. “Everybody bought houses there due to the woodland setting and close proximity to a major travel way. The Parkway is over 75 years old and a project of the magnitude may come only once every 30 years. It’s safer if we cut the rock back for all of the travelers.”

However, the DOT official continued, “I agree that the noise we are making now is probably the worst, and this is only Southbound there is another opposite in the Northbound shoulder.”

DOT is “looking at various options that include reducing the amount of rock removed and beefing up the guide rail. Compensating the Contractor for his lost production. Utilizing day time lane closures. Allowing full shift work but on limited nights.”

However, he concluded — ominously for all — “as of today we do not have a solution.”

Friday Flashback #50

Despite the traffic, construction and removal of trees, the Merritt Parkway is still more pleasant than 95. (Then again, so is colonoscopy prep.)

Back in 1939 — a couple of years after it opened — the Merritt really was a “parkway,” though.

So were the entrances. Here’s a shot of Exit 42 southbound, on Weston Road. The commuter parking lot was decades in the future.

I have no idea when the calming island was removed.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

Welcome To Westport!

The Weston Road/Easton Road/Main Street rotary — the first real bit of Westport people see as they get off Merritt Parkway exit 42 — has been spruced up nicely.

Thanks, Tony Palmer, Dan and Maureen Aron, and an anonymous helper!

But — as an alert “06880” reader points out — the view a few yards south is not exactly welcoming.

daybreak-nursery-4

The reader asks:

Do you know when when the Daybreak Nursery lot will be improved? The buildings are falling down, the weeds are overgrown, there is garbage in the driveway. It’s been this way for almost 2 years. What an eyesore. Do the owners have to at least maintain it in any way?

daybreak-nursery-1

Meanwhile, drivers who get past that sight — and want a pumpkin latte at Starbucks, quinoa salad at Freshii or a new outfit at one of our 27,284 Main Street women’s clothing stores — are grossed out by this view of the Parker Harding dumpster:

parker-harding-dumpster

That’s been an eyesore a lot longer than the Daybreak property.

It’s time — the “06880” reader says — for Westport to clean up its act.

Who wants to take charge?