Traffic Officials Weigh New Solution to Awkward Laurel-Canoe Hill Rotary

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Town officials say they’re leaning toward one of three redesigns for the awkward rotary at Laurel and Canoe Hill Roads.

Approaching the rotary at Canoe Hill and Laurel Roads traveling north on Canoe Hill. Credit: Michael Dinan

The signage that’s already in place, instructing motorists to “keep right” throughout the intersection is adequate for what’s there now, according to Tiger Mann, director of the New Canaan Public Works.

The three versions of a future traffic solution there are to make the rotary island itself larger, Mann told fellow members of the Traffic Calming Work Group at their most recent meeting, create a “pear shape” out of it or “recess it” toward Laurel Road.

That last option—to “leave it as just an island on Laurel”—would mean the rotary no longer serves the Canoe Hill Road traffic traveling past, Mann said at the May 16 meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department.

“That seems to be preferable out of all of them, because to try and make [the rotary] larger” would not fully address problems that some motorists have now with the rotary, Mann said.

The traffic group—which includes representatives from DPW, police, fire and emergency services—has been working on a solution to the difficult rotary intersection for at least three years.

Signs posted on the small island instruct motorists to stay to the right, and those coming from Laurel Road must yield. As it is, motorists traveling down (northbound, toward 123) Canoe Hill face the non-intuitive prospect of going around the traffic island, which sweeps cars slightly to the right (toward Laurel) in order to continue on that road, which then jogs left. The road also feels wide enough to motorists on that approach that it should accommodate two-way traffic on the left-hand side of the island.

Officials long have said that driving around the rotary as a northbound Canoe Hill motorist is not intuitive.

Mann said pushing the rotary island into Laurel Road would make the intersection a “non-rotary rotary.”

The group’s recommendation would need to go to the Police Commission for approval, he said.

15 thoughts on “Traffic Officials Weigh New Solution to Awkward Laurel-Canoe Hill Rotary

  1. Why bother? Especially now… As a New Canaan resident for nearly 4o years, I have never had an issue with another vehicle at this intersection. Intuitive or not it’s a sign with instructions that are to be followed…. and in my experience, most follow them. Seems like an inefficient and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars.

  2. I lived on Canoe Hill at the rotary end for 18 years and never had trouble with it. It makes sense to me, so I would be inclined to leave it as is.

  3. The current design is inadequate. As a Laurel Rd resident that passes this intersection each day I have observed many near misses. Many unfamiliar with the rotary going West on Canoe Hill do not go around the rotary but go to the left of the rotary directly into oncoming eastbound Canoe Hill traffic, inclusive of speeding trucks.

    • Agreed! As a former resident of Brushy Ridge I would witness at least a few times a week people not using the rotary correctly and many near misses wether I was walking, biking or driving through it.

      Very Scary !!

  4. As a resident of Laurel Rd, I have watched this intersection become more and more dangerous within the past three years. Cars and trucks alike go the wrong way, risking life and limb. This one needs controls both from Laurel and from Canoe Hill.

  5. I live off of Laurel Road, use this intersection daily, and have seen numerous incorrect and potentially dangerous turns at this intersection.

    Just yesterday morning I watched a motorist head south on Laurel before making an incorrect left turn in front of the rotary, just ahead of the school bus heading east on Canoe Hill that was preparing to make a legal left turn around the rotary.

    My proposed solution is much cheaper and less disruptive: paint arrows on the roadway that indicate the proper flow of traffic. The signage may seem sufficient, but my experience shows that it isn’t intuitive to all drivers. Painted arrows would be unobtrusive and reinforce that the intersection is in fact a rotary.

  6. I have been driving around that rotary daily for 38 years. Only recently have I noticed drivers blatantly ignoring the posted “keep right” signs. I blame the current culture, not the rotary design. Perhaps some yellow paint would help … double lines, arrows?

  7. We have been here for 14 years and haven’t had a problem. It’s charming. The only issues I have seen have been the landscapers and hot shots who feel it is their right to cut the corner and not go around. If drivers simply adhered to the rules and let cars already in the rotary have the right of way, it’d be fine. Aren’t there better ways to spend our tax $$? Let’s start with the Outback!
    Working THIS for 3 years? Wow.

  8. I have used the rotary for 14 years also. There has been a clear increase in the last couple of years in the number of vehicles cutting the rotary (all kinds, passenger cars, work trucks, landscapers, snowbirds sporting Fl plates, etc..)..usually when coming from Canoe and taking a left onto Laurel. A guess would be that there is more unfamiliar traffic coming into the area after having turned off of Rt 123. Rotaries are not frequently encountered anymore in the region and the lack of familiarity may be a contributing cause.

    In any case, there does seem to be an increase of improper travel in a highly used area. Increased signage and road lines that show the proper path seem reasonable and not excessively expensive.

  9. The intersection of Canoe Hill/106/Carter St. is a MUCH bigger issue than the rotary and should be addressed first. Being a Laurel Rd resident for 12+ years I see speeding being the problem more than the rotary.

    • I completely agree with Carter/106/Canoe Hill Road being outright dangerous.

      Drivers heading northbound on Carter Street have a blind view of traffic heading westbound on 106 and cannot/should not cross to Canoe Hill Road. However, many simply gun it across 106 and pray for the best instead of making a short turn onto eastbound 106 and then a left onto Canoe Hill Road.

      Also, cars heading westward on 106 cannot make a left hand turn onto Carter Street without navigating around vehicles traveling eastbound on 106 making a left onto Canoe Hill Road.

      That intersection must be the most dangerous in all of New Canaan. The Traffic Calming Work Group would be of greater use to residents to focus on that intersection. Hopefully it doesn’t take them 3 years like the rotary!

  10. I have seen trucks pass on the wrong side of the rotary heading to Rte 123 on several occasions. Current rotary is awkward and makes who has right of way confusing. Eliminate rotary and make island or stop sign at end of Laurel Rd if need be. Not a priority issue.

    Carter St and Rte 106 intersection is a real problem for those that don’t know to turn right onto 106 to view traffic before crossing. Best solution could be to make North end of Carter Street a cul-de-sac. I think those residents would be supportive.

    • Making Carter Street a dead end is definitely a solution, however it isn’t sensible.

      Carter is a main thoroughfare that leads Northward from the Merritt to 106. Traffic on 123 would be out of control not to mention all of the small side streets that would have traffic diverted their way to avoid the dead end.

      Installing a simple traffic “pork chop” at the intersection of Carter and 106 would be a better solution. It would prohibit northward Carter Street vehicles from driving directly across 106 onto Canoe Hill Road. This would make drivers get to a better viewpoint of the blind turn on 106 at its westbound traffic.

  11. Perhaps consider a modified roundabout. Rotaries were introduced to New England in the 1940’s and are really no longer used. They also are designed for 40 mph+. A roundabout (introduced in the 60’s and widely used today in Europe) are designed for 25mph max. The island would have to be widened as it is obviously too small. As it is currently designed, the small size allows for the occasional vehicle to go on the wrong side. While traffic volumes are low and accident data likely don’t justify a redesign I have seen the danger this intersection brings. It would never be designed liked this were we starting from scratch today.

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