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Drivers on Asylum Street in Norwich find new stop signs

Norwich — Construction of a new Sherman Street bridge over the Yantic River is two years away, but city officials on Monday installed a new three-way stop at the junction of Sherman and Asylum streets to improve traffic flow.

The new traffic pattern will be permanent, city Engineer Brian Long said. City officials decided to make the change now to allow plenty of time for people to get used to the switch. Flashing lights will be added to the stop signs soon.

“It seems to be going well,” Long said. “I sat out there for a while and witnessed the habits. A few were just going through like normal, but a good percentage were stopping.”

The city installed permanent “Stop Ahead” signs on Asylum Street, as well as temporary “Caution, New Stop Sign” signs to alert travelers of the new stops on Asylum Street. Crews painted new white stop bars on the roadway.

Previously, traffic on Asylum Street did not have to stop at the Sherman Street intersection, while vehicles entering from Sherman Street had to stop. Long said the high traffic volumes on Asylum Street made it difficult for vehicles to turn onto Asylum, especially with a sharp angle to turn right.

The problem was worse on afternoons when Norwich Free Academy was open, Long said, causing traffic to back up from the stop sign at Sherman Street.

The city is planning a $13.4 million project to replace the Sherman Street bridge over the Yantic River and a smaller bridge over the adjacent former mill canal. The Sherman Street intersection at Asylum will be shifted about 20 feet to eliminate the sharp turning angle onto Asylum, but the three-way stop will continue once the project is done, Long said.

Construction on the new bridge is expected to start in the spring of 2022 and will take two years to complete, with closure of the busy street for the bulk of two construction seasons. The road will be widened with a 5-foot wide sidewalk.

The bridge will be higher to improve water flow in the flood prone Yantic River, meaning the Asylum Street roadway will need to be raised about 18 inches.

The federal government will contribute $10.7 million to the project with the city and state each chipping in $1.35 million.

c.bessette@theday.com

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