DOT finds it a rough road to project approval

Bridgewater residents had their say Tuesday at the state Department of Transportation presentation about planned roadwork for Route 133, south of the village center.

About 70 residents turned out at Burnham School to hear an update for the main route through town.

Opinions were mixed, but among residents' concerns were maintaining the rural integrity of the road and the effect a five-month road closure would have on the community.

"I work in emergency services," said Laura Shail, an EMT with Bridgewater Ambulance, "and having the main route to our trauma hospital (in Danbury) closed for five months can affect quite a few lives.

"Can you at least maintain access for emergency vehicles, like ambulances?" Ms. Shail asked.

DOT project manager Scott Bushee responded that it could be a possibility.

Other questions followed about the aesthetics of having a 13-foot-tall, 900-foot-long concrete retaining wall installed along the route.

"How high will the fence on the top of the retaining wall be?" asked resident Michael Sinatra. "Is it necessary?"

"The fence is required by state building code and is for safety," Mr. Bushee responded. "We will do an aesthetic rock treatment to the wall and the fence will also be chosen for aesthetic quality."

The plan presented by the DOT Tuesday is a scaled-down version of a proposal presented in 2008.

In 2008, total reconstruction and realignment of one mile of the road was proposed, with two retaining walls each 25 feet high and 600 feet long.

Rock outcroppings were to be removed to improve sight line to the intersection with Northrop Street.

That plan was abandoned after residents voiced strong disapproval, said Mr.Bushee.

The new proposal, to begin in 2015, would reconstruct, widen and realign .56 miles of road, construct one retaining wall 13 feet high and have no rock removal at the Northrop Street intersection.

Route 133 would be closed for one mile from the bridge over Lake Lillinonah to the south, north to Wewaka Brook Road.

New guiderails would be installed along that mile. Traffic would be detoured along routes 67, 202 and 7 to Brookfield.

"What I'm hearing is that we need to fix the road and make it look like nothing was done," Mr. Bushee said. "We're doing our best to address that concern, to maintain the environment and aesthetics."

Planning began for safety improvements to Route 133 after a fatal crash along the road in 2008. A mother and two children were killed.

A DOT investigation found a total of 20 crashes at various locations along the original project limits were reported from January 2004 to December 2008.

Most of the crashes were found to be caused by driver error, compounded by narrow pavement width and protruding rock outcrops, the DOT study found.

Funding for the estimated $10 million project would be through state and federal money.; 860-355-7322