CT 136

Route 136 resembles two highways, joined at the hip: a meandering shoreline road, south of US 1; and a diagonal route darting inland from Westport toward Monroe. Route 136 intersects US 1 twice, and also has two interchanges with I-95; but the western interchange is partial, to and from the south only.

A small section (1.09 miles, between South Main and Washington Streets) in South Norwalk is city-maintained; that's why some maps show a gap in the road. Only Route 83 has a similar gap, in South Manchester.

The Saugatuck River Bridge, built in 1884, is the oldest surviving movable bridge in Connecticut and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Western terminus, Darien
US 1 northbound at Route 136, DarienUS 1 and Route 136 meet at a cramped intersection next to the Metro North overpass. More on this intersection later. Photo taken by Kurumi in April 2004.

CT 136 History

In the 1920s, State Highway 136 followed today's Route 37 and Route 39 between Danbury and Sherman.

The portion of old Route 136 between Saugatuck and Southport was designated SH 335 in 1925. The state marked the route with a yellow band and the number 335 on poles along the road.

Route 136 was commissioned in 1932 as a 16.23-mile route entirely south of US 1. Its original route, from west to east:

The first 20 years: a shore route south of US 1
Route 136, shown in scan from 1943 CT official mapThis scan from the 1943 official state map shows the original alignment of Route 136, from Darien to Fairfield. The V-shaped jog at Cedar Point was removed in 1952. The entire route east of Saugatuck was removed in 1963, and the diagonal to Easton was added. The gap in state maintenance (black line instead of red) at South Norwalk is still there today, but a shorter length.

In 1952, Route 136 was moved from the V-shaped diversion along Compo Road South and Hillspoint Road to a shorter segment of Greens Farms Road connecting the two ends. The total length decreased 1.5 miles to 14.73 miles. Former Route 136 in the area became unsigned SR 715, which was turned over to Westport in 1963.

In 1963, all of Route 136 east of Compo Road -- now overshadowed by I-95 in the same corridor -- was turned over to local maintenance. Route 136 was extended northeast from that point, leading to its current alignment.

Untangling the Darien Mess

Along the congested Post Road (US 1) in Fairfield County, downtown Darien stands out: within three blocks it intersects Route 124, West Avenue (old Route 118), and Route 136 -- while also passing underneath the Metro North railway. This has been a bottleneck for decades: in 1953, one of the first segments of future I-95 to open was the Darien Bypass, carrying US 1 around this very spot.

Even after the Bypass and I-95 opened, local traffic has had to deal with this choke point. On US 1 southbound, there is no direct left turn onto Route 136; instead, traffic takes the next left and follows signs back to the route.

In 1967, a Darien state representative submitted a bill calling for state help in untangling the mess, suggesting an overpass or underpass might help. In 1972, the state held a public hearing to discuss one plan: relocate Route 136 along a new railway underpass, to intersect US 1 on the north side of the tracks instead of the south. One alternative would have had Route 136 intersect US 1 directly across from Route 124; but the preferred alternative would bring it one block further east, across from Sedgwick Avenue.

However, this change was never made; Route 136 starts now where it did in 1932.

Keep on Truckin' ... somewhere else

Several distributors and industries in Norwalk south of I-95 generate significant truck traffic. As I-95 is frequently congested, many drivers found what they considered a shortcut: Route 136 west to I-95 at exit 12. Residents along Route 136 were unhappy with this traffic, and called for a ban on thru trucks, noting that the four-lane Martin Luther King Drive in Norwalk was constructed in the 1980s to serve truck traffic to I-95.

Darien and Norwalk officials worked together in 2006 to push for the ban, and the State Traffic Commission approved the ban in August 2007. Now thru trucks are prohibited on Route 136 between US 1 in Darien and Martin Luther King Drive in Norwalk.

CT 136 Quotes

"Shortly after this is where it got bizarre, because the State 136 of the book goes nowhere near the 136 of today. I tried. I spent over half an hour trying to drive a distance of about 10 minutes, but the road simply didn't go where they said it would. It was supposed to continue along the shore, but it doesn't. Either a different road was designated 136 in the '30s, or the people who wrote this were drunk, or I have lost my mind (or all three), because the proposed route is impossible."

Johnna Kaplan, The Size of Connecticut blog, following the Federal Writer's Project 1938 guidebook, in 2011. That particular blog entry is gone, though.

CT 136 Sources