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Get Your Kicks On Route 106

Driving in Easton can be a nightmare. Allow columnist Bob Havey to share some experiences.

Okay, so I 'borrowed' a song title and tweaked it a bit. Lighten up! Who are you - the copyright police? Sorry for jumping nasty at you. I'm a little grumpy today. I'll tell you why.

I think I can safely assume that most of you who reside in Easton have had to pull out of a side street, or perhaps your driveway, onto Route 106. And (did you know it's acceptable by today's standards to start a sentence with a conjunction like 'and' or 'but'? What's the world coming to? My high school and college English teachers are rolling in their graves right now – assuming they're dead).

I know. I went off on another of my famous tangents, but I felt I needed to justify beginning my sentence with 'and'. I've fought about this with editor-types for years, not wanting to succumb to the bastardization of the language (no, 'bastardization' is not an obscenity), but I guess all things must pass – including the English language as those of us who are growing long-in-the-tooth once knew it.

And, as I was saying pre-tangent, I assume you've found this to be a rather unpleasant adventure at times - this pulling out on to Route 106 thing. To illustrate, let's take a look at Route 106 from the intersection of Routes 123, 106 and Bay Road, aka , westward to the intersection of the aforementioned routes at . I'm speaking figuratively here, of course. Please don't go running out onto the road to see what I'm talking about. We don't want to lose you.

Let's begin at Five Corners, former home to the infamous Freddy the Turkey, may he rest in peace. But that's another column for another time.

Okay, so whose brilliant idea was it to have five corners? Four wasn't enough? Come on people! Who out there in reader-land thinks that was a good idea? Certainly not those among you who have had the unpleasant, if not infuriating experience of some thoughtless, knuckle-headed, egocentric narcissist pulling out of Bay Road, stopping in the middle of Route 123 and blocking all traffic until the light at the intersection turns from red to green. Sound familiar?

Then there's the genius who's convinced that the sign ordering him/her to stop on Route 123 just prior to where it intersects Bay Road is not a set-in-stone directive, but a mere suggestion, and inches his/her way through the stop sign, blocking access to those attempting to make a turn onto Bay Road from Route 123. Do you know this person?

I would venture to guess that, without question; more obscenities have been shouted out car windows at Five Corners than at any other intersection in the state.

Traveling approximately a half mile west of Five Corners; we arrive at the spot where Poquanticut Avenue meets Route 106. Yes, there's a stop sign on Poquanticut, yet many motorists roll mysteriously out into the middle of 106, where they are, more often than not, broadsided by an oncoming vehicle. This intersection is notorious for this. Why? Perhaps you have an opposing opinion, but I blame the Gremlins.

 Traveling just a bit further west, having avoided hand-to-hand combat at Five Corners and navigated skillfully through Gremlin territory at the junction of Poquanticut and 106; we arrive at what is undoubtedly my favorite intersection in the town of Easton – Robert Drive, Route 106 and Route 123, a true marvel of the Highway Engineering world if there ever was one. My theory - an April fools joke gone bad.

 I can almost understand the Five Corners debacle. Two hundred and fifty years ago that intersection, like many in New England, was more than likely comprised of five cow paths that happened to intersect; thus, the ludicrous design. However, I find it hard to believe that in the following two and a half centuries of 'progress,' no one noticed that perhaps there was a slight problem; that some creative engineering needed to be done in order to save the town folk from having to endure the scourge of obsessive cursing, bodily harm and property damage.

 There's certainly no design issue at the Poquanticut intersection. It's merely two roads – one stop sign – no big deal. The only problem there is impatience. No one wants to wait to merge into traffic. Everyone's in a hurry. "I'll just creep out slowly," they reason. "They'll stop for me. They'll let me in."  Yeah – not so much! Apparently, engineering isn't the solution to all our problems.

 Okay, so let's get back to Robert Drive, 106 and 123. I can remember when I first drove through that intersection – back when it was first opened. I was driving west on 106, heading to Mansfield, when I came to the traffic lights. I entered the second lane from the left. There are four lanes there so I figured it made sense that the far left lane was the left-turn lane to merge on to Route 123; the next lane, the lane I was in, and the lane to the right of me were for through traffic and the far right lane was for turns on to Robert Drive.

 That made sense - until I approached the intersection and realized I was in a 'left-turn only' lane. I can't imagine how I missed that! After all, it was clearly marked as a left-turn lane right on the road – four feet from the light – where I couldn't see it until I was on top of it and it was too late to turn into the proper lane!

 Being a law abiding citizen, I turned left onto Route 123 – where I didn't want to go – figuring I'd turn around in the convenience store down the road and be back on my merry way. No big deal, right?

 Traffic was heavy that day and there were at least a dozen cars in each of the two left-turn lanes which, as we turned on to 123, merged into one lane! The guy next to me, obviously a much more important citizen of the Commonwealth than I, tromped on the gas and nearly ran me off the road, with several more cars following his lead. The cursing rose to the level of the Five Corners during rush hour and; to my surprise, it was emanating from my car!

 After exchanging pleasantries with a few more motorists, I pulled into a parking lot, turned around and headed back toward Route 106 to continue the journey to Mansfield, from which I had just been unceremoniously rerouted.

 I passed through the intersection, making a left turn onto Route 106, and continued on to my destination. After conducting my business, I headed east on 106, toward home. I was tired. It had been a long day and all I wanted was to have a peaceful, uneventful trip home so I could relax. That certainly didn't seem like too much to ask.

 But, apparently it was!

 As I passed through the lights at 106 and Robert Drive at about 35 miles an hour and came to the other side of the intersection - two lanes suddenly became one! This situation seemed all too familiar and became even more so as a young man in the lane next to me made his move to beat me to the point where the two lanes merged.

"It ain't gonna happen!" I sneered, my testosterone surging. "Not again! Not this time!"

I mashed the accelerator to the floor and blew past the little punk, shaking my fist out the window as I left him in a trail of dust. Visions of power tools, boxing matches and big game hunting danced through my head. Machismo reigned!

I pulled in to my driveway, got out of the car and flexed a few times. I was ready for a bloody steak, a few ounces of straight bourbon and a good cigar.

Then it hit me! "What have I done?" I shouted. "What have I become? I'm an animal – an animal I tell you!"

I tend to get a bit over-emotional during testosterone withdrawal.

So anyway – do you remember that intersection thing I was talking about? That's why I don't like it.

This is embarrassing. I have to go now. I think I'm going to cry.

Bob Havey is an Easton based freelance writer. You may reach him at RHH@BobHavey.com.

Melissa Weckler November 03, 2010 at 06:41 PM
Again, not "more than likely"--when your teachers were Pharaohs, there's no question that they are mummified now... :D
Bob Havey November 03, 2010 at 06:58 PM
Careful, Melissa. You've heard about the plagues of Egypt, right?
Sharon Thiel November 03, 2010 at 07:18 PM
For some reason (as I laugh till it hurts) I keep picturing your determined push to be first at the merge, with your triumphant arrival in your driveway........and thanking Heaven you didn't have to pull forward a bit to let the car with the flashing lights on top fit in behind you =) Slow, deep breathing, with a calming mmmmmmmm sound is said to lower the blood pressure and bring serenity......let me know how that works for you ;-) Oh, and I think all road planning engineers wait until they're sleep deprived to lay out these intersections.....what other excuse could they have ???
Bob Havey November 04, 2010 at 02:56 PM
Yes, no flashing lights in my rear-view mirror - please! Deep breathing? Sorry, Sharon. I'm just not a serene kind of guy.
Bruce Havey November 09, 2010 at 02:34 PM
Very funny column and true. Imagine how the tourists feel? Are we home yet?

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