Route 7 traffic to be detoured through village this weekend

Tens of thousands of cars and trucks — moms in minivans, kids in convertibles, truckers with their tractor-trailers — will be detoured off Route 7 and rolled through the center of Ridgefield one last time this weekend.

The state Department of Transportation said the Route 7 closure in Branchville — described as “the sixth and final” — is scheduled to last from Friday evening, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. to early morning Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 a.m.

“We are not planning any additional traffic interruptions after this weekend,” said John Dunham, district engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

The Ridgefield Police Department is planning to put on extra personnel, as it has in the other recent closures, according to Capt. Jeff Kreitz, the department’s public information officer.

That would mean it would deploy officers at both ends of the detour — the Route 7 and Route 102 intersection at the south, and the Route 7 and Route 35 intersection at the north — and also have an officer stationed at the intersection of Route 102 with Florida Road, to discourage use of it as a shortcut around the official detour.

The highway closing is to accommodate work by the state’s contractor, New England Infrastructure Inc., on the bridge that carries Route 7 over the Norwalk River in Branchville, just north of Route 102 near the LIttle Pub.

The state Department of Transportation said it was the “final” Route 7 closure in Branchville where the contractor working on the bridge “will be allowed to fully detour traffic around the site utilizing Route 35 and Route 102” — wording that suggests there may continue be some lesser traffic disruptions, such as the alternating one-way holdups that have already taken place there sometimes on nights and weekends.

Before it began the periodic closings — in June — the state estimated that about 17,000 vehicles use Route 7 on a Saturday, and about 13,000 on a Sunday. Those estimates were based on counts done in March 2014. Counts done at that time also found that Main Street’s traffic — without the additional cars from Route 7 — is about 12,000 on a Saturday and 10,000 on a Sunday.

So the combined flow would be about 29,000 vehicles on a Sunday and 23,000 on a Saturday.

New England Infrastructure was awarded the contract in March 2016. The project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 17 — next week, the day after Route 7 is scheduled to reopen.

The project’s cost is $3,490,000.