GOP Viewpoint: Traffic, tolls, and leadership

I have lived in Ridgefield for 28 years and have spent a fair amount of time traveling on the roads and through the center of town. It is impossible not to notice there are more cars on the road, and more congestion in Ridgefield, especially the Route 7/35 corridor. This increase in volume and technology (WAZE) have further increased traffic on smaller town roads causing safety issues.  

I sought some facts to back up my observations. The Town of Ridgefield and the Housatonic Valley Council did a Route 35 Traffic Improvement Study in 2005 to develop recommendations for the 6.7 mile stretch from Route 7/35 to the NY State line. The 2005 study states 19% of the approximately 17,000 vehicles traveling on 7/35 use Ridgefield as a cut through. That’s over 3000 cars per day! The report also states the 7/35 has twenty-four traffic hot spots and intersections. Twenty-one were rated at the lowest service level, unsatisfactory. Although the report has many good recommendations, our town leadership has implemented only a few like coordinating traffic signals.

As traffic congestion throughout the state increases, the State of Connecticut is looking at implementing tolls. The Danbury Chamber of Commerce estimates that 125,000 cars a day go through Danbury. The question is if tolls are implemented how much of that traffic could potentially be diverted through Ridgefield? Every 2% diverted traffic represents 2500 vehicles. That’s a 10% increase on Ridgefield’s traffic and the number of diverted vehicles could potentially run much higher. Consider how that impacts our roads, air quality, taxes and overall quality of life.  

Ridgefield needs to have a serious discussion on traffic, tolls and relieving traffic congestion.   

Our First Selectman, Rudy Marconi has been in Hartford repeatedly supporting tolls. He advocates for all the benefits to the state but does not account for the negative impacts on Ridgefield. All surrounding Towns oppose this yet our Board of Selectman has not reviewed or voted on this.  

Here are some next steps to proactively improve our traffic problems and fight tolls when they come up again:  

  1. The Board of Selectman, should review Rudy’s toll position, get public input and then consider funding the Traffic Study proposal they received from the Police Commission for the past two years to identify potential solutions.
  2. The Planning & Zoning and Police Commission as part of the update to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development should update the transportation section to address this problem and make the necessary changes to address this congestion.
  3. The First Selectman, Board of Selectmen and other Boards should review recommendations and solicit public input to make the changes required to improve the traffic situation and protects Ridgefield’s quality of life.

The traffic issue is a community problem. An informational meeting will be sponsored by the Ridgefield Republican Town Committee at the Ridgefield Library this June to discuss the issues and recommend changes. If you agree, please join us!

The Republican Town Committee submits this bi-weekly column.