Town officials this week approved a $33,000 contract with a traffic consultant in order to design a new, safer plan for a harrowing intersection in New Canaan.
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 during its regular meeting Tuesday to approve the contract with New Haven-based Hardesty & Hanover to create a long-term solution for the intersection of Route 106, Carter Street and Canoe Hill Road.
The solution is expected to “provide us with better sight lines and safe turning lanes,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the selectmen during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Documents provided in the public packet for the meeting show that motorists traveling toward Route 106 on Carter Street would have an option to turn more squarely to the state road in order to gain a better sight line to enter the traffic flow and get into position to turn left onto Canoe Hill.
“So as you’re coming up to Carter and Canoe, you would turn, have an area of refuge, and then be able to make the [left] turn [onto Canoe Hill],” Mann said. “And if you stand out there and look at it, the majority of the people are trying to do just that. They just don’t have enough room to queue up, say, coming from Carter Street to take a right-hand turn onto 106 and then an immediate left. So we went to Hardesty & Hanover and asked them for a proposal for a complete design through Connecticut DOT coordination and permitting, which is a large aspect of the project itself.”
The firm came back with a preliminary design for the state to review, he said. The physical work of changing the intersection would cost less than $100,000, Mann estimated.
Moynihan advised Mann to find out whether the state would be willing to see some transportation improvement-related grant money directed toward the project, since 106 is a state road.
Williams said, “I don’t know what’s more important than safety. And this is a disastrous intersection. It’s always been a disaster. Thank God we’re finally on top of this. Kathleen, kudos to you for raising this. I completely agree with you that this is an accident waiting to happen. And thank goodness we’re finally on top of it.”
The solution that Mann described has been discussed by town officials for seven years. Corbet had flagged the safety hazard two summers ago following crashes at the intersection and later called for an administrative team that fields requests for traffic-calming to reconvene its public meetings.
Moynihan has pushed back in the past on improving the intersection, describing it as “scary but not actually dangerous” and “not really busy.” During the meeting, he said that police have said in the past that crash data doesn’t support making a change and that he himself has received just one complaint in his soon-to-be-finished tenure as first selectman.
Williams said in response, “Whatever, Kevin. Whatever.”
Corbet noted that the intersection’s dangers have been a discussion topic on New Canaan Moms and that she has been approached about it by a number of constituents. She thanked Tiger and Police Chief John DiFederico for their work on the issue.
“I know you guys have been focused on this,” she said. “I’ve really appreciated it. It’s a long time coming and I appreciate it.”
Mann said part of the proposal is to see if it’s possible to install signage directing motorists on Carter Street to cut over to 106 via Clapboard Hill Road instead of merging onto the state road later. Part of the design will involve motor vehicle counts to ensure that Clapboard Hill doesn’t become overly trafficked as a result, he said.
“To be honest with you, the majority of the public that already is traveling in that direction is probably already taking that cut-through,” he said.
Asked for a timeline for the work, Mann said, “Difficult to say, only because the coordination and the permitting but I would say that we would be working through this fall into winter on this design with a thought to come back in the spring.”