With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Intersections We Can't Navigate

As far as North America goes Hartford is a very old city. Much of Hartford was designed and built long before anyone had conceived of the motor vehicle much less the congestion that would follow the rise of the suburbs and white flight from the cities. We at Sad City love living in cities. We accept the congestion, traffic, and a certain level of crime as part of the trade off for the convenience and diversity of the city. Still some Hartford roads and ramps completely confound us.

If you are going straight on Farmington this intersection is a breeze. Going left coming from either way gets a bit tricky. If you are coming up Sisson Ave be prepared for a backup of 20-30 cars at most times of the day. The crawl up Sisson isn't helped by the fact that cars are allowed to park on the right side of the road causing all cars to have to briefly move into the left lane. There of course will be  a jerk or two who waits until they have reached the parked cars and then honks at you when you won't let them in. Coming out of Sherman Street when a class gets out at the law school down the road? Forget about it. The Sherman light cycle is comically short. The absolute maximum number of cars that can make it through is five and that's if everyone is paying attention and gets right on the gas.

BONUS: Can cut through the Ravi gas station to get onto Sherman. Cutting through Subway is often too risky as Sisson will likely be stacked up and traffic on Farmington can be too dense and fast moving to get back out onto the road.

If you're an adrenaline junkie, this is the on ramp for you. In rush hour, to continue on I-84 you will just have to merge through three lanes of dense crawling traffic in about a quarter mile. That's nothing. The real excitement comes when merging onto I-84 via this ramp when traffic is heavy and travelling at full speed. When this happens you will get the pleasure if entering a highway at about 35-40 MPH and having too cross three lanes and settle into a fourth lane of traffic moving at approximately 70 MPH.

BONUS: See who is playing soon at the Mohegan Sun while trying to deftly maneuver through traffic via that banner perpetually hanging from that building. Nickelback for $175?! Sign me up!

Looking for another challenge after conquering the Sigourney Street on ramp? Continue westbound on I-84. During rush hour prepare for traffic to slow to a crawl crossing the Connecticur River over the Bulkely Bridge. Who thought it was a good idea to have highways merge and seperate with exit only lanes while going over a bridge causing cars to cross lanes, enter, and exit in a mad frenzy? We have no idea.

BONUS: Guys put on your brightest colored dress shirt and girls your tightest dress. Like the excitment of the roulette wheel? Take the Route 2 on ramp just over the Bulkely Bridge towards the casinos and after navigating a tight cirlce at a maximum speed of about 35 MPH enter Route 2 and it's fast moving traffic in the left lane! Sure to get the heart pumping everytime.

What's this you say? This appears to just be a basic two street intersection near Sad City's original lactose powder dealer. Not quite if you are headed up Airport Road and looking to go either straight onto Brown or right onto Wethersfield Ave. Anytime during the workday, the straight/right turn lane is always backed up and the light is too short. With this intersection on a fairly steep hill, this is especially difficult for those with manual transmissions.

BONUS: Take a left hand turn and just take the next right and continue onto your destination. While the straight/right hand turn lane is backed up, the left hand turn lane always is short and the light even provides the left arrow. A true Hartford veteran move. Seriously. Where else are you getting a tip like this?

So you are coming from downtown and headed to the West End. You snake around Bushnell Park enjoying the views of the fountain, you drive by 55 On The Park and wonder how they ever rent any units with the outrageous prices they charge. You cruise by Black-Eyed Sally's and the bus station and then want to proceed left onto Farmington Ave. But traffic is coming the other way from Asylum! What do you do?!?!! Do you stop!?!?! Why are there cobblestones in the middle of the road?!?! What does a hanging light with an "X" in it mean?!?!

From what we have ascertained, if coming from downtown you have the right away; just go! Traffic headed towards downtown and cutting across your path has a stop sign. Avoid this intersection at all costs between 4:15 and 5:30 weekdays when employees from The Hartford are getting out of work. It is a complete nightmare.

BONUS: The "X" light means don't go down the road. From Driver's Ed we remember that these lights are used when a road is one-way part of the day and two-way other parts of the day. Because that isn't confusing at all.

DOUBLE BONUS: Hakaan's Driver's Ed instructor was named Mondo. Something like Mondo D'Nofrio. He was into building elaborate model train sets with his hobby club and encouraged Hakaan that it was an excellent hobby and he should try it out. Little did Mondo know that 16 year old Hakaan was simply biding his time until he got his drivers licence so he could become a force of nature the likes of unseen before to the single women of Greater Hartford.

Editor's Note: Hakaan has had two dates since he received his driver's license. When we contacted each of these women for comment they asked that we never call them again and promptly hung up. 


  1. How could you leave this one out? The Farmington, Broad & Asylum Street intersection is definitely up there.


    I suggest hooking a left on Warrenton and then a right onto Whitney if you need to get up to Farmington Ave heading west towards West Hartford.

  2. Or heading West on Asylum Street: Cars are parked in the right lane, so you have to travel in the left lane and then suddenly switch in to the right lane to continue to go straight

  3. The truest example of bad CT driving has to be (and technically juuuust outside of Hartford) the intersection of Jordan Lane (314) and Wethersfield Ave under the bridge. Wethersfield has what looks like 2 lanes, with Jordan lane only one, so you get many people going 2 cars at a time fro one side going straight and turning, or more popular the piggy-backing approach from that 2nd car with a schedule more important than yours.

  4. Farmington and Sigourney...bane of my existence. If you're going west on Farmington, prepare to get cut off by the cars taking a left onto Sigourney, as well as the sudden merge of cars as 2 lanes become one. Going east, prepare to get stuck behind the (formerly E) bus that picks up even the most straggly of passengers and misses the light 3 times! Switch to the left lane? No way! Those people are turning left and will also miss 3 lights!

    Also, nice pro-tip for Brown & Wethersfield. I've been doing that for years and it's a headache saver.

  5. Not to mention two lanes on one side of the intersection, one on the other. Two examples are Jefferson and Washington (Westbound on Jefferson); Broad and Capitol (Southbound on Broad).

  6. From a biking/pedestrian perspective: why does the Sisson/Farmington/Sherman intersection not have a crosswalk on its eastern boundary? Shouldn't one connect Subway and Ravi? But no, all foot, bike, and motor traffic leaving Subway by that exit has to risk life and limb or know the timing of the intersection very well (hint: you can cross when the walk light starts buzzing or just after all the traffic from Sherman has gone, but before anything else happens).

  7. 91 South cross over to Rte. 2 is always fun.

    (Bulkeley Bridge; separate)

  8. Wethersfield/South Green/Retreat/Maple is a doozy. Try taking a left from Wyllys West onto Wethersfield Ave.
    If you intend to be taken seriously by Hartfordites and not just the WSJ, spell Bulkeley correctly or our Hall of Famer will arise from his grave in Cedar Hill Cemetery - a Sad but happy place.

  9. What about West Hartford, driving down there sucks too. The intersection of Albany and Prospect and then the ride down Prospect in general. Uggg Or basically every intersection coming down North Chapel Street, which turns into Homestead. The road blocks, the construction, the buses. Uggg

  10. I almost got ran over crossing Farmington going to towards Sherman Street. I thought the lights being red meant stop...I guess not. a whole bunch of cars were coming at me, even a city bus, but God forbid he is late for his next stop. Thank God I made, but something's got to be done about this intersection.

  11. I accidentally ended up in the Broad/Asylum/Farmington mix at 6 at night. I was positively terrified when all of a sudden, the customary road marking disappeared, and I was facing down on coming traffic in my (now unmarked) lane!