Regional planners seek input on transportation

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) has been holding public listening sessions throughout the region to discuss the development of its Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which requires updating every four years.

The sessions aren’t designed to answer questions, rather WestCOG officials want to hear concerns from the public about transportation issues.

WestCOG is a regional planning agency that covers a diverse geographic area in the state including Ridgefield and 17 other towns — Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Sherman, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

In order to get feedback from as many people as possible, three WestCOG staff members, senior planner Kristin Hadjstylianos, associate planner Kristin Floberg, and GIS analyst Nicholas Trabka have been conducting listening sessions on various dates and times throughout the region, including one in Wilton on Oct. 24 and another in Weston on Nov. 8.

In the Ridgefield area, some issues of concern are traffic and congestion on major highways such as Route 7 and Route 35, the state’s toll proposal, and train service on the Danbury branch rail line.

One of the proposals to relieve congestion on state highways is to beef up rail transportation, in particular Metro-North’s Danbury line, which has two stops in Wilton, said Hadjstylianos.

She said Connecticut is far behind New York when it comes to rail service and efficiency. She said commuters have concerns about the unreliability of the Danbury line, particularly at the South Norwalk station.

She said there is public interest in developing a “one-seat ride” on the Danbury line, which would take commuters from Connecticut directly into New York without having to switch trains, as they presently have to do. The Danbury-to-Norwalk line is further hindered because it is a “single track” line, meaning only one train can run at a time.

As for tolls, WestCOG staff has heard that some residents support them, while others don’t. “We’re the only state in the Northeast that doesn’t have tolls on its major highways,” said a Westport resident at the Weston listening session.

Hadjstylianos said WestCOG planners are trying to better understand emerging demographic and transportation trends in the region.

Another WestCOG listening session will be held on Monday, Nov. 26, from 7 to 8 p.m. in Room 201 at Westport Town Hall. Residents from all towns are welcome.

For more information about the LRTP and to see the latest meeting schedule, visit the project website at