Tag Archives: Neil Brickley

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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Friday Flashback #101

The other day, I mentioned how few photos I’ve seen of Saugatuck before I-95 was built. I’ve always had a tough time visualizing what that neighborhood looked like before bulldozers, concrete and pillars.

Alert — and historic-minded — “06880” reader Neil Brickley rode to the rescue. He’s a Staples High School classmate of mine, with an equal fascination for the Westport a few years before our parents arrived.

The photo Neil sent is fascinating. It’s a stupendous aerial view of Saugatuck from 1951 — about 4 years before construction began.

I noticed a few things.

The Arrow Restaurant (most recently Blu Parrot) was not yet built on Charles Street.

Greens Farms Road met South Compo quite a bit further south than it does today.

Most significantly, the area west of Saugatuck Avenue — where land was taken to build the Exit 17 interchange — was much more wooded than I imagined.

Click on or hover over the image above. Explore. Then click “Comments,” to share what you see.

Neil also sent this bonus aerial view: The same area, taken in 1965.

A lot changed in just 14 years.

Which makes me wonder what the Saugatuck of today will look like in 2032.

This Old House: Identified!

The whole point of “06880”‘s “This Old House” series is to help the Westport Historical Society in advance of an upcoming exhibit. They’ll be showing great photos of old homes, to illustrate changes in Westport. 

But some images — taken as part of a 1930s WPA project — are hard to identify.

House #4 — posted 10 days ago — has been confirmed. It’s the handsome home of Birchwood Country Club, visible from Kings Highway South. The back of the photo said “Allen (Bailin). Riverside Avenue.”

This Old House - March 25, 2015

WHS house historian Bob Weingarten explains the delay in confirmation:

I need to apologize to your readers, especially Marc Isaacs; Jill Turner Odice, who agreed with Marc, and Neil Brickley, who wrote that Marc was correct and  I should re-consider this location.

When I first read Marc’s comments [he said it was originally the Josiah Raymond Inn. and was moved to its present location prior to the 1930’s], I reviewed the Connecticut Historic Resources Inventory. It said the house was built in 1835 by Josiah Raymond. The form identified the location as 25 Kings Highway South, also known as The Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

I discounted this as the house for 2 reasons. First, on the back of the WPA 1930s photo the words “Riverside Avenue” appeared and there was no indication from the history that the house was moved.

Second, the photo I had on file was of the front of the house. Although the WPA 1930s photo does show the front, this architectural design was prevalent in houses of the Federal period in Westport.  My mistake was not having a visual view of the side of the building.

After hearing from Neil, I visited the site. With an appropriate photo angle I can visually confirm that the Unknown House #4 is the Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

Looking at the photo you can see that the front porch does have sidelight windows, the side portion of the building has the same structural elements and windows as identified on the WPA 1930s photo. Too many  elements to be a duplicate built house.

Thanks again to Marc Isaacs, Jill Turner Odice and Neil Brickley.