Maintaining a widely-used thoroughfare like U.S. Rte. 7 (Danbury Rd.) is critical for lots of reasons, chief among them safety. But since the start of June when the CT Department of Transportation (CT-DOT) began a resurfacing project to repave a two-mile stretch of Danbury Rd. in Wilton, the road has become more hazardous.

Dozens of motorists traveling the section being resurfaced (between Wolfpit Rd. and Wilton High School) have damaged their tires after hitting exposed manhole covers, metal piping and infrastructure sticking up from the roadway, and uneven surfaces.

Credit: GOOD Morning Wilton

Some drivers have damaged more than one tire, and Wilton Police Deputy Chief Rob Cipolla said there’s been one two-car collision reported when a driver made an evasive maneuver to avoid one of the raised structures.

According to Cipolla, the department has received approximately 17 reports of vehicles disabled due to flat tires as a result of the construction. Ten of those incidents were reported during daytime hours, while seven occurred between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

But if anecdotes reported to GOOD Morning Wilton and on social media are true, the number of actual incidents of damage is much higher. That’s corroborated by what two leading local tire retail and repair businesses report.

Mike Lindquist owns Wilton Auto and Tire on Rte. 7 in North Wilton. He’s seen a lot of blown tires in all his years in business, but he said driving on what he likened to a minefield has been taking out more tires than he usually sees.

“All the manhole covers and water outlet pieces sticking up, they spray paint them orange, but it doesn’t tell the driver a whole bunch, and those things are sharp. Hit it right with the sidewall of a tire, it’s just going to slice the tire, plain and simple,” Lindquist said.

A few customers every day have been coming in with tire damage from driving on Rte. 7, a definite increase from the number he typically gets.

Further south on Rte. 7, just over the Wilton/Norwalk town line, Town Fair Tires has seen even more of an uptick in customers coming in with blown tires.

“They’re trying to swerve and get out of the way, but other people on this side of the road are swerving and there’s nowhere to go. So they hit [the raised objects], and they get a flat,” Brandon Mills, a salesman at the business, said.

And the damage done is serious.

“Some are a simple little pinhole that blows the tire. Other times it looks like someone took a saw or an ax to it. They’re just blown completely out with big gashes on the side, sometimes they go all the way through the entire width of the tire,” Mills said.

He added that close to 20 cars a day are coming in because of tire damage that happened in the Danbury Rd. construction zone — nearly double the business Town Fair Tire usually sees.

“It’s just decimating us, for lack of a better word. We’re going through everything [in stock] and trying to order everything to keep up with the demand. We get 150-plus tires a day to try to keep up with our regular orders and workload, and it’s created quite an interesting situation,” Mills said.

One of those drivers who needed a tire repair was Michelle Barbieri‘s daughter, who was on her way to Wilton High School to take her chemistry and algebra finals when one of the tires on the car she was driving blew out.

“Needless to say it was overwhelmingly stressful. The tire tore immediately upon going over the drop-down near Wolfpit and [she] was able to get to the Shell Station. A new Nokian tire and alignment cost us $300!” Barbieri told GMW.

Mike Handel got a flat tire early on when the milling work started. As a result, his wife Marni Handel does whatever it takes to avoid the same fate.

The Boy Scout trailer’s jack was broken after it dislodged from the truck hitch when a tire hit one of the raised structures on Danbury Rd. Credit: contributed / Kristi Perfido

“I have learned every back road route possible from my house to my office, town and anywhere else that I need to get to — and my office is right on Rte. 7,” she said.

According to Kristi Perfido, something more than tire damage happened to her husband, Alexander Perfido, who was towing a trailer.

“My husband crashed the Wilton Boy Scouts Troop 125 trailer (it contains their gear for campouts) because the trailer tire hit one of the metal hole covers and broke loose from the truck hitch,” she wrote in an email to GMW. The trailer jack was damaged as the trailer landed on it after breaking loose (see photo at right).

Project Details, Drive Safely

The paving is a CT-DOT project and doesn’t involve any town oversight. The project was originally scheduled to start on June 5, as per a scheduled released by CT-DOT and posted on the town website:

Milling work will begin on or about Monday, June 5. This portion of the work will take approximately two weeks (weather permitting).

Paving work will begin on or about Sunday, June 18. This portion of the work will take approximately three weeks (weather permitting).

The daily hours of operation will be from approximately 7 p.m. to approximately 5:30 a.m.

Wilton DPW Director/Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio explained why the project is taking longer than expected.

“There was an approximately two-week gap between milling and paving because CT-DOT uses one contractor to mill and a different contractor to pave,” he said, adding that paving finally started overnight from Sunday, June 25-Monday, June 26.

“State DOT has to pave two layers of asphalt on Rte. 7. It is our understanding that DOT is scheduled to pave each night (weather dependent). However, they can’t pave when it’s raining and/or when the ground is saturated from rain,” Smeriglio said. “We hope the weather conditions are favorable in order for the work to proceed expeditiously.”

DOT Spokesperson Josh Morgan estimated that the project will be completed by the end of July, “barring any further weather delays.”

He added that the schedule for paving has been shuffled so that paving will begin at the north end of the work zone, rather than at the Wolfpit Rd./Rte. 106 end, to accommodate the July 4th activities and fireworks.

Morgan provided a link to information about filing claims through the CT-DOT website, but he also reinforced the responsibility motorists have to take extra caution and drive as safely as possible, especially in construction zones.

“As with all roadway construction, we need motorists to slow down and pay attention when traveling through a work zone. Speed limits are there to keep motorists and workers safe,” he said.

That was echoed by Smeriglio — who said, “We encourage motorists to proceed with caution in the work zone area,” — and Cipolla.

“Remember it is a construction zone. Even when there is no active work occurring we should be operating through that area at a speed below the posted speed limit, for the safety of ourselves, others and, when active work is occurring, the construction crew. In addition, it is prudent to leave significant space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. This allows for safe braking when necessary, but also allows you more time to observe a raised structure rather than being surprised by it if perhaps you’re following too closely to the vehicle in front of you,” Cipolla said.

Town officials released information on submitting a damage claim with the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation: Refer to the state website on submitting a claim or call 860.594.2235 to speak with a damage claim representative.

Correction: An earlier version of the story referred to Capt. Rob Cipolla of the Wilton Police Department. Cipolla is the Wilton Police Department’s Deputy Chief. The article has been updated. It has also been updated to correct the dates paving began.

One reply on “More than Just a Bump in the Road: State DOT Paving Project on Rte. 7/Danbury Rd. Wreaking Havoc on Tires”

  1. Has anyone submitted a claim with the CT dept. of transportation about tire / wheel damage on Rt. 7? Any luck? I did and was denied. They said , I could have taken another road. 😆Apparently, the state DOT followed all procedure correctly.
    Can we all band together and fight this as a community?

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