State Rep. Keith Denning (D-42) will hold an information session to help drivers who incurred tire damage during the extended repaving period of a two mile-long stretch of Danbury Rd./Rte. 7 in Wilton.
The info session will take place on Wednesday, July 26, from 6-8 p.m. at Wilton’s Comstock Community Center (180 School Rd.).
Many motorists reported damage to their vehicles and tires caused by driving over raised structures on Rte. 7 in Wilton that were exposed during the road project’s milling stage. The project’s completion was delayed and took longer than originally planned.
Several people have complained about the CT Department of Transportation (CT-DOT) response to claims. In several cases motorist said that CT-DOT has denied claims on the grounds that drivers might have taken another route, even though the DOT did not install detour signs at the project site.
“Because these repairs were delayed, many drivers were victims,” Denning said. “These drivers deserve a serious response and, in most cases, reimbursement. I’m committed to their receiving fair treatment.”
Denning has encouraged drivers from Wilton and elsewhere to attend the session for advice on how submit claims (for those who have not already) and to learn more about how Denning plans to petition state officials to consider these claims seriously.
CT-DOT began the resurfacing project in Wilton in June. Almost immediately, the road became more hazardous. Dozens of motorists traveling the section being resurfaced (between Wolfpit Rd.and Wilton High School) damaged their tires after hitting exposed manhole covers, metal piping and infrastructure sticking up from the roadway, and uneven surfaces.
Some drivers damaged multiple tires, and Wilton Police received dozens of reports of disabled vehicles with flat tires as a result of the construction as well as at least one collision. The high numbers of tire damage incidents were corroborated by local tire retail and repair businesses report.
Mike Lindquist owns Wilton Auto and Tire on Rte. 7 in North Wilton reported that a few customers every day could come in with tire damage from driving on Rte. 7, a definite increase from the number he typically gets. He likened it to a minefield.
“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.
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Further south on Rte. 7, just over the Wilton/Norwalk town line, Town Fair Tires saw even more of an uptick in customers coming in with blown tires — close to 20 cars a day because of tire damage that happened in the Danbury Rd. construction zone — nearly double the business Town Fair Tire usually sees.
“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,” Brandon Mills, a salesman at the business, said.
The resurfacing project was a CT-DOT project and did not involve any town oversight.
Town and state officials shared links on the CT-DOT website where motorists could submit damage claims. They 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,” DOT Spokesperson Josh Morgan said when GMW reached out in late June after initial damage reports skyrocketed.
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