Letter: Main Street proposal will help reduce traffic congestion

To the Editor:

The following recommendation letter was written to Michael Calabrese, engineer at the state’s Department of Transportation, and submitted to The Press as a letter to the editor from members of the Ridgefield Economic Community and Development Commission.

We are writing to you to affirm our support for the CT DOT’s Main Street project, currently under review by the Town of Ridgefield. It is our opinion that the suggested changes will improve Ridgefield’s central business district. The most pressing need addressed by your proposal is the reduction in traffic congestion, currently impacted by the lack of traffic light synchronization and the lack of turning lanes.

Our residents avoid Main Street businesses during peak shopping hours, as they are aware of the traffic gridlock they will encounter. Consequently, residents use side streets and surrounding neighborhoods, adding traffic to those roads, which are not designed to handle commuter traffic. In addition, navigation systems divert non-resident traffic around Main Street, impacting safety and further reducing retail revenues.

The addition of synchronized lights will help to reduce the traffic congestion. The addition of turning lanes will facilitate traffic flow at the intersections of Bailey, Catoonah and Prospect Streets. The addition of bump-outs will improve pedestrian safety. We are grateful that your proposal includes enhancements to the landscaping and beautification of Main Street and we appreciate your understanding that the existing trees are an important component of our Main Street’s character.

However, our Commission is very concerned about the temporary disruption to the Village during construction. It is critical that the Town is fully involved with the timetable for implementation. It is imperative that your contractors follow schedules set by the Town and that there are significant financial penalties for missed deadlines.

The Ridgefield ECDC is very appreciative of the years of work that the DOT has invested in planning this project. Your willingness to involve Town leaders and volunteers in numerous designs, and your willingness to make the changes necessary to protect the character of our Village, is commendable. In light of Ridgefield’s fiscal challenges, the opportunity to benefit from a $3M project funded by federal and state grants with no burden on the Ridgefield taxpayer is exciting. Without these grants, Ridgefield would not be able to fund a project of this scope and sophistication.

John Devine

Ridgefield ECDC