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'Refuge' Proposed at New Canaan Intersection

Town officials want a $175,000 "refuge island" installed at Route 106 and Park Street.

Drivers zipping along Route 106 into New Canaan may soon be forced to slow down to make a left-hand turn toward .

A popular route to downtown New Canaan, the left-hand turn from Route 106—also called Old Stamford Road—onto Park Street, often is treated more as a veering fork than a hard left by motorists exceeding the 25 mph speed limit.

All that’s expected to change if the New Canaan installs a curb-height “refuge island” (see attached rendering) at that intersection in the middle of Park Street, creating a sharper left-hand turn.

“We’re really trying to address the speed of traffic coming northbound on Park Street,” Sgt. John DiFederico told Patch. “People coming off of Old Stamford Road really take a straight shot and don’t have to slow down [to make the left-hand turn].”

The plan includes three major components: painted stripes across both Park Street and 106 for pedestrians, the refuge island itself and a change to the asphalt on either side of the island so that vehicles don’t approach it.

Tiger Mann, assistant director and senior engineer of the town DPW, said the project would cost about $175,000. New Canaan would pay for all of that, though Connecticut Department of Transportation approval still is required because the island would sit at an intersection with a state road.

State DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick told Patch that projects similar in scope can take up to two months to approve.

New Canaan’s process for approving a project like this is itself lengthy. The New Canaan Police Commission said in a press release that it supports the plan and has been working with the town’s public works officials. The and already are aware that it’s on the DPW’s radar.

With the DOT’s approval, the project would need to go through:

  • The town’s budget cycle (because no money has been allocated for it), including the Board of Selectmen, and Town Council;
  • The town for adherence with the Plan of Conservation and Development;
  • The Town Council separately for use of town land;
  • The selectmen again to award the contract.

Mann said that the refuge island would include a “Keep Right” sign at either end, but wouldn’t have any room on it for plantings. The asphalt on either side of the island—for readers looking at the attached rendering, think of it as the head and tail of the tadpole (the raised refuge island itself is the white oval)—would be level with the road but treated differently to indicate that it’s part of the island, possibly with asphalt treatment or Belgian block. It needs to stay level because it’d be “mountable” by tractor-trailers making wide turns at the intersection.

Once approvals are won and a jackhammer’s in the ground, the project is expected to take about one month to complete, Mann said.

NC Patch Reader July 26, 2011 at 11:12 AM
The video does not show vehicles making turns at or even just passing the intersection in question and adds NOTHING to this posting!
NC Patch Reader July 26, 2011 at 11:14 AM
In all fairness, I should also have said, the article is otherwise a good piece of reporting and the attached drawing VERY helpful.
Tom July 26, 2011 at 11:24 AM
I love it!!!! I am extremely interested to see how the sidewalk supporters will come out on this issue. This is the location where my neighbor was hit by car.
Jane Himmel July 26, 2011 at 11:35 AM
great idea. Drivers also cut that left turn too tightly, getting into the space of a car waiting to leave Park Street.
Observer July 26, 2011 at 01:29 PM
I've noted that when you are headed south on Park and are at the stop sign for Park, it often appears that the northbound, left-turning cars are cutting the corner.....except that they really are not. Unless the island is place in such a way to make the turn more sharp, it won't solve the problem and could create another one. How about two more stop signs there, if this is truly a problem? That's a lot cheaper than $200,000. BTW, if we want to put islands in places to stop cutting the corner, my candidates are the top of Parade Hill, the top of Richmond Hill, and the both ends of Wahackme. At those spots, every numbskull making a left turn thinks you're in his way, and you have to slow down dramatically approaching the intersection to ensure you don't have someone turning left on your side of the road. The island at the top of Weed street works pretty well except on the fortunately infrequent occasions when drivers turn left from West Road "inside" the island. (I have seen this.)
MPM July 26, 2011 at 01:55 PM
I think it's a great idea - thanks for the article.I also like the proposed other locations, esp Richmond Hill @ Weed (though I think lack of space would be an issue there. I don't think we need to spend $175k, though! Goshen, CT has a similarly sized and trafficked (?) intersection with a make shift round about that has 10- 15 "stay right" signs that are placed in a 10 foot wide circle in the middle of the intersection. Cheap, easy, they can move the signs if need be, and it's worked for 50 or so years.
john paterson July 26, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Worst/most dangerous of these town intersections is still the Carter St/Canoe Hill/Route 106 three way merge between NC and Silvermine. Blind spots on the curve, and no one ever knows who has the right of way, with much higher speeds of travel than 106/Park. I'd address that one first...
Michael Novia July 26, 2011 at 04:02 PM
I was in Southport center the other day and loved the DAR-sponsored granite water fountain placed in center of the road. Ridgefield has one and, Kent has a beauty, if I recall. In fact, many towns have them. They speak of a town's pride and history among other things. Instead of just a plain old rotary, why don't we announce the entry into downtown New Canaan with a fountain? There are plenty of philanthropic groups in town who might sponsor and maintain it. I couldn't be prouder to live in New Canaan and would love to show her off. Property prices as well would benefit...no? Just thinking out loud.
heavens sake July 26, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Initially sounds like good idea Michael. Since New Canaan's moniker is "next stop to heaven" why not a granite cherub angel on top of the fountain. The rest I leave to your imagination. Seriously, problem with fountains is vandalism, maintanance and winter storage. Ridgefield drains and places a plastic enclosure around fountain during winter months which is unattractive. Also philanthropic groups do not mind sponsoring but reluctant to maintain for reasons mentioned.
Michael Dinan (Editor) July 26, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Taking a Facebook poll here, everyone (your suggestions included and room to suggest more): http://on.fb.me/k7dqKC
TP July 27, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Another way to waste money and position the state as 'nanny' to everyone who can't otherwise follow traffic regulations and speed limits - $175k ??? Just like traffic gates at the high school that are usually broken or left open ($60k or more on this great idea). This attitude by government officials is what has put our country back on its heels. The town should spend as little as possible and silly ideas like this can be saved for flusher times (and we will only see better times when government spending is put in check).
Phil Restifo July 28, 2011 at 10:39 AM
If only this could come about.
Mimi Findlay July 28, 2011 at 03:12 PM
There are over 40 rotaries in the little state of Andorra and no traffic lights. Each rotary has a different planting and/or sculpture on it. I like the idea of something to slow down the left hand "turn" but stripings, signs, and asphalt to do not seem like a good visual solution. Belgian block might not be bad if it has to be level with the road. I could not read the drawing (too small) or see anyone taking that left turn in the video but am familiar with the intersection where a beautiful Queen Anne house on the west side of the street was demolished a decade ago.
Rich Phelan July 29, 2011 at 01:05 PM
The video plainly shows the black Jeep making the left onto Park.
Chow mein February 17, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I would think the problem is low driver skill and lack of respect for traffic regulations and right of way, not infrastructure. The same driver who cuts off another lane of traffic probably has multiple bad habits. He or she should be ticketed and corrected, and it makes money for the state. By building infrastructure to "fix" bad driving, it costs us money, and the problem of the bad driving is not addressed. Driving exams, both written and practical should be required every 2 years, and the passing grade should be 100%. Right now, getting four questions wrong on your written test can still permit you to drive--which four questions? Maybe, it's the stop sign, yield sign, left turns at intersections, and right turn on red? Everyday I see multiple drivers perform these incorrectly. BTW, I teach motorcycle safety for Conn DOT, and this stuff really matters to a motorcyclist.
Chow mein February 17, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Agreed, TP Ticket the jokers who can't follow simple rules of traffic and get them off the roads for public safety. Why spend money to hide their driving flaws?
Chow mein February 17, 2013 at 09:17 PM
The triangle creates more problems than it solves. For tractor trailers, snow plows, etc.
Chow mein February 17, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Signs not a bad idea. They are not a launch hazard should someone lose control.
Chow mein February 17, 2013 at 09:19 PM
I know that intersection. You are right.
Siri Kloud February 26, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Something needs to be done at the intersection which is obvious. MANY people have been hurt (whether in cars or walking). Personally, I have witnessed a major car accident and several near misses for pedestrians. I know that neighbors in the entire area have been asking the police department for solutions. It's taken more than 13+ years of complaining to even get this far.
Baffled Resident February 26, 2013 at 02:32 PM
But the issue at 106/Park isn't one of poor engineering. The issue is lazy motorists. As stated above, the intersection of Silvermine/Canoe Hill/Carter is a byproduct of poor engineering, and should be addressed before the 106/Park intersection.

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