Several recent road projects bode well for the future viability of New Milford's village center, and for the convenience of motorists.

The completion of the widening of Route 7 in New Milford last year and of the Route 7 bypass in Brookfield just months ago has significantly reduced the travel time from Danbury to New Milford. And the ongoing construction to realign the intersection of Route 67, Grove and East streets should improve traffic flow east of the village center.

These three projects have been good news for New Milford and for anyone who traverses these mainly state roads.

But their success contrasts all the more strongly with the need for a coordinated plan to improve traffic congestion in the downtown area itself.

Motorists can get from Danbury to New Milford in record time now -- perhaps as little as half the time previously required. But they get there only to languish in backed-up traffic trying to turn right from Route 7 onto Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Housatonic River and into -- and through -- the downtown area.

At rush hour on weekdays, forget about any time savings. Too many vehicles are trying to get from the west side of the river to the east side -- and they all have to go across one metal bridge.

New Milford faces several traffic challenges in and around the village center, and they must be addressed by elected and appointed officials.

One such bottleneck is in front of New Milford Hospital, where vehicles trying to turn left from Elm Street onto Route 202 tie up traffic because there is no right-turn-only lane. Several years ago town officials were talking about installing such a lane, but it hasn't happened yet.

Though annoyance over waiting in traffic might not seem monumental, it does add up and can be a hindrance to continued downtown patronage and growth.

New Milford's centuries-old village center is one of the most picturesque in New England, but it lacks the infrastructure to handle the traffic.

We call on Mayor Pat Murphy and the Town Council to make traffic flow improvements a very high priority of their administration.

Much good has happened already with the Route 7 projects to the west and the realignment to the east.

Now it's time to take care of the middle -- New Milford's village center.