Downtown Lights: 'There are All Sorts of Funny Shenanigans Going on There'

There's a funny situation at the lights near Church Street, and you'll have to deal with it through the winter.

Why do we have three lights, but two lanes?

It's one of many questions that have come up concerning the progress, and strange setup, of the Downtown Improvement Project.

While Fred Litchfield, the town's engineer who is most familiar with this project that is headed by the Department of Transportation, wasn't at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night, Chief Mark Leahy was able to field a question.

It's a question many readers have asked, as well, and Selectman Leslie Rutan brought it to the table during her regular report. 

"When you're heading down Route 20 going east," she said, "you come to the intersection with Church Street, and there is a left arrow there. And in addition to the left arrow there is a left arrow sign. Now, you have two separate green lights. If you're in the lane with the left arrow, there have been several situations where people have wanted to go straight. So if you have someone stopped for the red arrow, but the other two are green ... there are funny shenanigans going on there. I just don't see three lanes there; but there are three lights. The way that it's set up is not good. People don't know if it's a left turn only lane and they don't know whether or not they need to stay there either."

Chief Leahy, who attends the progress meetings along with Litchfield, said that ultimately, the finished product will indeed involve three lanes.

"Through some magic formula, they decided not to do that until springtime," said Leahy. "I like the term 'shenanigans,' because that summarizes it. It's designed for three lanes, but there are two because of the poles that we can't seem to get removed. If the utility companies could get the poles removed, we could ahve striped the lanes appropriately."

The confusing markage has had an adverse affect downtown, added Leahy, but "that doesn't seem to be on the high priority list for utility companies. It will be clearly marked someday. It has been very challenging from an enforcement standpoint because the road is not supposed to look like that ... but it does."

LMarch January 31, 2013 at 10:14 PM
I had to look at the sign on 135 again after reading these comments. The sign is split in two, with a left turn arrow and a left/right turn arrow. It certainly gives the impression that 135 is two lanes and according to the sign, both lanes can turn left. Am I interpreting the sign wrong? Again....very confusing!
Town Resident February 01, 2013 at 11:57 AM
I agree with what everryone is saying. The 2-3 cars that can get through the left onto Church st is crazy! The no right on red coming from the other direction makes even less sense with the red left arrow. I hope the timing of the lights is just temporary. Going east bound I often have to stop at a red light in front of Honey Farms, go a little bit and stop at another red in front of the library.
Maureen February 01, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Drives me a bit crazy when someone doesn't go left to Church st when no one is coming west but the light is red in front of me. I know you shouldn't go thru a red light but annoying. :)
Leslie Rutan February 03, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Thanks again for all of your comments! The Town Engineer has been checking for them the last few days, so that he can pass on concerns to / discuss with the DOT. We'll know better how the downtown will look, once the poles in question are removed, the final topcoat has been put down, and the lanes are better defined. I too have concerns about the number of signs that have gone up, some of the 'arrow' lights, timing of lights, etc.
Karen February 08, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I just wanted to come back and report on some crazy driving I saw as a direct result of the bad lights in the center of town. One day last week, I sat through the red arrow at Rt20E onto Church thru 3 cycles. On the last of the three cycles, I observed THREE cars also miss the red arrow, so they went straight and turned left into the CVS parking lot. They drove thru the lot to Pierce, then turned left and then right to get on church. They were on their way and I still sat sitting at a red arrow. And I was not at all mad, I was thankful since without those 3 additional cars I actually had a chance of making that light legally-finally. These new light patterns are BAD and need to be fixed before people's frustrations cause an accident.


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