One way to address the problem of motorists seeking to cross Route 106 from Carter Street to Canoe Hill Road—a difficult maneuver, given limited sight lines and busy traffic—may be to encourage drivers to enter the state road sooner.
If northbound motorists on Carter connect to 106 by cutting through on Clapboard Hill Road, they would be better positioned to turn left onto Canoe Hill Road a bit further up, officials said during last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting.
“You would have all the traffic come down Clapboard Hill onto 106, make a turn onto 106 and then you can then proceed with a left-hand turn onto Canoe Hill or proceed onto straight up 106 itself at that point and basically bypass the intersection,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the selectmen during their April 19 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“So the thought is to put signage at Clapboard Hill saying ‘Alternative Route,’ right? So that we’ll get people to go down Clapboard Hill. That’s an alternative. But consideration has to be given that we will be adding traffic to Clapboard Hill. And that’s a steep embankment. It’s a steep hill. It has one hard turn in it. So it’s not necessarily a home run, so to speak.”
Mann spoke in response to a question that Selectman Kathleen Corbet put to Public Works during a section of the meeting reserved for general matters before the town. Noting that another car crash had taken place Easter Sunday morning, Corbet asked for an update on the status of traffic-calming measures to be taken in the area of 106/Silvermine-Carter-Canoe Hill. (At about 7:57 a.m. on April 17, a driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries after a single vehicle traveled off of Silvermine Road near Canoe Hill and struck a stone wall.)
Corbet had flagged the safety hazard last summer following crashes at the intersection and later called for an administrative team that fields requests for traffic-calming to reconvene its public meetings.
Mann raised the prospect of an “Alternative Route” on Clapboard Hill as one possible solution, or part of a larger solution, in response to Corbet’s request for an update.
New Canaan public works and police officials six years ago sought to increase the “skew angles” of Silvermine and Carter, so that instead of shooting straight across Silvermine Road, motorists coming from Carter would make a right onto 106 and then queue up to make a left onto Canoe Hill. Though state officials said at the time that they support the plan (Route 106 is a state road), they also called for a traffic engineering study to ensure that the change wouldn’t create new problems—and no improvements were made.
Mann said last week that the traffic study has been done and the town is now reviewing three possible solutions to send to the state.
“The long and short of it is to try and look at what the proposal or the three possibilities are and then sit with the state and see what they might be amendable to, considering the fact that it’s an intersection with a state road,” Mann said. “So we have to take into consideration their concerns as well.”
Since the intersection doesn’t warrant a stop sign or stoplight, Mann said, one of the possibilities under review is “basically off-setting the intersections to try and increase the queue lengths.”
“The only thought is to try and separate them somewhat and then allow a right-hand turn off of Carter to then queue up to make a left-hand turn at that point in time onto Canoe Hill. Because that seems to be the hardest turn. The rest of it seems to be OK, you know taking the right-hand turn out. Right-hand turns seem to be OK. A left hadn’t turn is a little problematic coming out of Carter onto 106 but there are other ways to get around that.”
Corbet asked whether an evaluation of the solutions would be completed within three months and Mann said yes. At that point, further designs would need to be drawn up, and an “encroachment permit” would need to be obtained from the state, since the town would be working within the state’s right-of-way on Silvermine/106.