Motorists who travel from Danbury through Brookfield to or through New Milford have a lot to be thankful for these days.

Thanks to three major road projects completed over the past few years, the trip from Danbury to New Milford is much faster -- as much as five, 10, even 15 minutes quicker than it used to be.

But there is still work to be done.

The drive from Danbury to the shadow of New Milford's village center is now smooth and easy, but at high-volume times of the day or week, traffic comes to a grinding halt as motorists approach the center.

To be sure, the bypass around Brookfield's Four Corners has been a godsend.

No more waiting for several minutes to get off the highway just south of the Four Corners.

No more waiting through a few red lights to get through the Four Corners.

No more poking along on a two-lane roadway up to the New Milford town line.

Similarly, the upgrade -- and widening to four lanes -- of Route 7 from the Brookfield-New Milford line up to Veterans Bridge in New Milford has enabled motorists to move along without the traffic tieups that used to characterize Route 7.

The third project -- the completion of the Lanesville/Grove/67 construction that included a new Route 67/Route 202 intersection just east of the Village Green -- eliminated the dangerous Grove/67 intersection and changed the inefficient 67/202 intersection.

But the truth of the matter is that motorists who wish to cross Veterans Bridge from Route 7 to or through the center of town have to sit and wait... and wait... and wait.

Traffic in the righthand northbound lane of Route 7 often backs up past Southworth's, or back to the Odd Fellows Hall, or even as far back at The Cookhouse.

And when drivers finally get to Veterans Bridge, they customarily face a slow, frustrating trek through the center of town.

As for the drivers who opt to take the bypass east of the Housatonic River, they often get near the new 67/202 intersection and have to wait through a few red lights before they get to East Street -- where they have to wait through more red lights.

The bottom line in all of this is that while it takes less time to get to New Milford these days, it still takes forever to get through the center of town.

This is not a new issue, nor is it an unforeseen problem.

New Milford officials and residents have been talking for decades about how to relieve congestion in the downtown -- for the benefit of both motorists and merchants in the village center.

And there have been specific plans drawn up to create an east-west connector to the north of Veterans Bridge that would take motorists heading north of New Milford around -- instead of through -- the center of town.

Unfortunately, not one first selectman or mayor has taken on the challenge of successfully moving such a project forward, or coming up with other ways to significantly reduce traffic congestion in the quaint, historic village center.

We call on Mayor Pat Murphy to move the problem of downtown traffic congestion to the front burner.

And we urge town officials and residents to work together to resolve the problem so they can enjoy -- and not choke -- one of the nicest village centers around.