Waller Road residents debate closing
The closure of one end of Waller Road in the Gaylordsville district of New Milford has prompted a heated response from residents.
Neighbors of the railroad crossing along Waller Road, near Brown's Forge Road, say they worry what it might mean for them.
"I understand that emergency repairs needed to be made to the railroad tracks at the crossing there," said Richard Stalter, who lives at 22 Waller Road, "but the repairs have been completed and the road is still closed with what looks like a permanent closing."
Housatonic Railroad closed the crossing Aug. 15 after receiving a call that the track was damaged, said Colin Pease, Housatonic vice president of special projects.
"The (state) Department of Transportation authorized an emergency closing," Pease said. "A big truck had got caught up, seriously damaging the track. This is the third time we know of that a large vehicle was hung up there."
Pease said crews replacing the track realized other incidents had occurred and the sharp incline from the tracks to Brown's Forge Road was "heavily scarred."
"It could have been catastrophic," he said. "We've decided to take action before a tragedy happens."
Housatonic is writing the DOT to request a permanent closing approval. Kevin Nursick, DOT spokesman, said the request is expected.
Emergency services have been notified.
"Our railroad unit agrees this is a good step by Housatonic Railroad," Nursick said. "There is a severe grade change that contributes to larger vehicles getting stuck on the tracks, with the potential for a train to bear down on it and a catastrophic crash happening."
Housatonic is installing a pipe under the track so water can be run through from a brook on the Brown's Forge Road side.
"The Fire Department doesn't use that entrance given the grade," Fuchs said. "If we respond to any calls there, it is from the South Kent Road end (of Waller). We requested the pipe at a meeting last year. It was inevitable that the closure was coming."
Susan Grisell, who owns a house at 21 Waller Road and also on Brown's Forge Road, is angry.
"I remember the flood of 1955," said Grisell, who grew up along Brown's Forge Road. "My mother and I drove down Waller Road to get to a friend and couldn't get through because the bridge was out over the brook."
"There are safety concerns for the residents of this road," she said, "that aren't being considered."
He said he is working to assure when permanent closure is granted, Housatonic would put in a turnaround at the end of Waller Road and at the pipe under the tracks.