Next Route 7 closure scheduled to take place in October
Huge trucks, snazzy sports cars, moms in kid-filled SUVs — all of Route 7’s traffic was detoured through the center for Ridgefield from Friday to Sunday, and state officials say one more weekend-long closure is expected, probably in October, to complete bridge work in Branchville. Or — sorry — it might be that two more closures are needed.
“All planned weekend work was completed over the past weekend. The new deck was installed and the contractor is now working on the parapets behind barrier during the day,” said District Engineer John Dunham of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
“The next planned closure will be in early October,” Dunham said.
“We are hoping it is the last closure, but there is a possibility for one more closure for paving.”
The highway closure from Aug. 25 to 27 — the fourth this summer — was uneventful, said Captain Jeff Kreitz of the Ridgefield Police Department.
“This past weekend’s closing of Rt. 7 went as expected,” Kreitz said. “Motorists seem to be getting familiar with the detour and the officer stationed at Florida Road and Route 102 has decreased the traffic on Florida Road.”
He reported no incidents related to the closing, adding that “the additional detour signs are providing better direction for motorists.”
There were a lot of cars, though.
“There’s no question we saw an increase of traffic on Main Street,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
“But what I personally found in traveling Main Street every day of the week, is that it appears the north-south green cycle has been extended, greater than I’ve ever seen before. This may be the result of taking some time off the east-west — from Governor Street, from Prospect Street, from CVS. I’m not sure, but it has helped,” he said.
“But seldom, on a Saturday, will you find that traffic’s backed up to 116, heading south, backed up from Prospect Street all the way north to 116 ... That happened on Saturday,” Marconi said..
“However, complaints don’t even compare to the number of complaints we’ve gotten concerning the Route 35 Bridge project.”
There the road is never closed, but periods of alternating one-way traffic frustrate Ridgefielders — Route 35 goes through the center of town, while Route 7 skirts the eastern edge.
And the Route 35 work has seemed to go on so long.
“This past week, I spoke to the project manager on site to let him know I would be going over his head,” Marconi said. “...I called the Director of Bridges for the State of Connecticut, filed a complaint. I was contacted by another individual, State of Connecticut employee, who works more on a regional basis on bridges, brought him up to speed on the level of aggravation of all of the people of Ridgefield, somewhat diplomatically — who then proceeded to tell me we’re beyond that now and we need to look foward, which was unacceptable, but true to a certain extent.”
Marconi also asked about the two recent nights when work went much later than it usually does, extending well into the commuter rush rather than stopping in the late afternoon.
“They worked until 8-8:30 at night, that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” Marconi said.
“The response to me was that the gas company was in process of welding the gas main, in its new location, and once they start that they can’t stop — each phase of it — so as not to interrupt gas service for the Town of Ridgefield.”