Change coming to 'strange' Sodom/Narrow Ave. junction
The intersection where Narrow Avenue meets Sodom Road has at least three strikes against it.
• Inexplicably, Narrow Avenue divides into three sections at the last minute where it meets Sodom.
• Narrow Avenue arrives at Sodom Road right in the middle of a big, nearly blind curve.
• Signs might help ease the confusion but every time the town puts them up, someone steals them.
All of which is why the police and highway departments have teamed up to change the odd junction.
Police Lt. John Bell sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen recently urging that the town transform three-pronged Narrow Avenue to a single junction with Sodom Road. The board voted unanimously to have the town pursue its study of the changes.
A highway engineer who looked at the intersection recommended that the single intersection be near to but a bit north of where the middle of the three Narrow Avenue routes now meets Sodom, Lt. Bell said.
"That way it would arrive at a point that is perpendicular to Sodom Road," approximately in the middle of the curve.
And the new single route should be wide enough, he said, to allow for left and right hand turn lanes onto Sodom Road.
"There have been several accidents at that corner," usually involving south-bound vehicles on Sodom attempting a right turn onto Narrow Ave., Lt. Bell said. "We've tried putting signs up there but they keep disappearing." That happened again recently."
Lt. Bell credited acting Highway Surveyor Chris Gonsalves with bringing the problem to town attention.
"It is very confusing, especially without signs," Mr. Gonsalves said. With no signs to guide them, drivers seem to have different theories on which way to go.
He said they have put signs there repeatedly but the sign thieves are relentless. Once they put one high enough on a telephone pole section to be out of reach — they thought.
"The thief just cut the pole down with a chainsaw," Mr. Gonsalves said. He added that they probably snatch the aluminum signs for their scrap metal value — a lot of effort for not much money, he added.
Mr. Gonsalves agreed that changing Narrow Avenue from three prongs to one makes sense.
"It's dangerous the way it is now," he said. "I've seen some close calls coming around that bend. There is no visibility," and it is hard to plow. He called the current layout, "kind of strange."
The new single Narrow Ave entry will need to be wide enough to handle a very long tractor-corn cutter and other farm vehicles that use it regularly, he said.
Once the plan is fine-tuned, Mr. Gonsalves said he hopes work can be done to change the intersection in the latter half of the upcoming summer, once state Chapter 90 funds arrive.
Town crews can do some of the preparation work, including trimming back trees and brush to improve visibility, but will have to hire a contractor since Westport doesn't own road paving equipment.
And the job is not quite as simple as it sounds, he said, as it likely involves moving a utility pole or two.