To the Editor:
I was taking my first of six detours around the construction on Route 106/New Canaan Rd. today (driving my kids to camp) when I was stopped by a Wilton Police Department officer, who very politely informed me that they were asking people not to drive on Highfield Rd. anymore because, apparently, the extra traffic noise was “scaring the horses” and they’d received a number of complaints.
While I certainly recognize that having extra cars drive by your house is annoying, I feel like the residents of Highfield Rd. got off relatively easy compared to those of us who are actually forced to take that detour every day, a detour which has recently been extended to begin earlier in the day and end later in the day and which is apparently so far behind schedule (surprising nobody who’s ever had their life affected by a road construction project in Connecticut) that after originally suggesting it might end around mid-summer they’re now talking about it running into the new school year.
If the residents of Highfield Rd. are really so concerned about their horses’ emotional well-being, perhaps they might consider temporarily forgoing the convenience of in-home horse stabling and keeping their cherished thoroughbreds at one of Wilton’s many fine riding clubs until construction is finished? While undoubtedly a great sacrifice, it nevertheless pales in comparison to that which those of us on the wrong side of the reservoir are forced to put up with every day. Perhaps they could send the bills to Eversource (who are responsible for the construction), as I myself would very much like to do for all of the extra gasoline I’m burning this summer.
I have absolutely no complaint with the WPD, who in this as in every other interaction I’ve ever had with them have been unfailingly professional and courteous, but I feel like in this particular instance, the self-infatuated whining of a few loudmouthed horse owners is being allowed to take precedence over the needs of a great many others who are now confronted with this already extremely aggravating situation being made just that little extra bit worse.
At the very least, perhaps as a compromise, the ban on through traffic could be limited to just trucks (or New Canaan residents, who I have zero objections to anybody inconveniencing)?
Editor’s note: GMW reached out to Lt. David Hartman of the Wilton Police Department who oversees traffic safety for the town to ask about Love’s complaint.
Hartman explained that the detour, which has been in place since the Eversource/Aquarion pipeline road construction project began last April. Right now, while the bulk of the work is being done on New Canaan Rd./Rte. 106 between Old Boston Rd. and Belden Hill Rd., the detour route approved by the CT Department of Transportation and Bureau of Highway Operations sends cars on Old Boston Rd. to Seir Hill Rd. to Belden Rd. However, some motorists have been using Highfield Rd., which is not on the detour route, as a shortcut.
“We’re encouraging people to stay on the detour route approved by the state — the roads are slightly larger, more highly traveled with less serious turns — versus taking secondary roads through a residential neighborhood. We’re not stopping anyone — Highfield Rd. is a public road and they certainly can go that way. But we’ve had complaints from residents about speeding cars, and with kids playing outside during the summer, residents are concerned,” Hartman explained.
He added that he has not heard anything about noise bothering the horses in the neighborhood, and that officers are not stopping motorists or telling them they can’t drive on Highfield Rd.
“We’ve had two calls about speeding and concerns about extra cars, because of children in the neighborhood. We’ve been doing radar enforcement there and if officers are stopping anyone it’s if they have probable cause,” Hartman said, adding again that the WPD is “just trying to encourage everyone to make life as beneficial as possible for everyone impacted.”
When the New Canaan Rd. construction moves to the east of Old Boston Rd., the detour will move to Old Kingdom Rd., but when that will happen is anyone’s guess.
“I wish I knew when,” Hartman said. “They’re behind on the project, how far I’m not sure. They were supposed to finish everything by the beginning of November but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
Road crews on the project are working extended hours, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while school is not in session in order to get more work done. When school starts again at the end of August, the schedule will return to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Anyone with additional questions can contact Lt. Hartman at 203.834.6260.