A sliver-pass — an informal road widening which allowed northbound Route 35 traffic to slip by cars stopped, waiting to turn left into the Parks and Recreation driveway — will be officially accommodated as part of the state’s current repaving project on the highway.
“That’s going to be widened in that area,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “It will be repaved to accommodate the ability to pass a car that’s making a left turn — pass on the right, at a very slow speed, a car making a left into Parks and Rec.”
That seems to be a reversal of policy. Prior to the paving project — for some months at least — a series of five or six posts similar to those that hold up traffic signs had been put in the ground, standing just close enough to the highway’s right road shoulder to block off attempts to pull around a car stopped in the travel lane, waiting to turn left.
Before those posts were put in, the pull-around maneuver was well enough established to have obliterated a small area of grass along the road in front of the Fox Hill condominiums.
The state Department of Transportation’s engineering department proposed the sliver-widening to the town as part of the repaving project.
“They asked if we were interested in a widening at that specific spot,” Marconi said. “There was no discussion related to any other location.”
But a 14-year-old traffic study does support numerous sliver widenings on Route 35, as a way to help move traffic.
The sliver-pass at Parks and Rec was called for — along with “sliver widening” in several other spots — in the Route 35 Traffic Improvement Plan, prepared in 2004 for the town and the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials by the consultants Fitzgerald & Halliday Inc.
The proposed locations are shown on the plan’s “summary map.”
“Recreation site driveway,” the map says; “Sliver widening on Route 35 for left turns into the site driveway.”
The study envisions sliver widening at four additional locations further south — down to West Lane by the Peter Parley Schoolhouse:
- “Gilbert Street: Coordinate sliver widening on Route 35 for left turns into Gilbert Street with proposed development at corner of Gilbert Street and Route 35.”
- “Route 102 (Branchville Road): Restripe plus sliver widening on Route 102 to provide exclusive left and right turn lanes.”
- “Olmsted Lane: Sliver widening on Route 35 for left turns onto Olmstead Lane.”
- “West Lane: Sliver widening on Route 35 for left turns onto West Lane.”
The body of the plan offers a bit of background — and a potential downside to the sliver widenings.
“Although results from the traffic analysis indicate longer delay for vehicles on the cross streets,” the plans says, “the PTC (project technical committee) felt the greatest benefit would be to provide sliver widenings on Route 35 to allow through moving vehicles by-pass vehicles turning left.”