Opinion: Report on Route 37 in Danbury, New Fairfield, is 'boneheaded'

Route 37 South in New Fairfield. The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) has released a study of the Route 37 Danbury-New Fairfield corridor.

Route 37 South in New Fairfield. The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) has released a study of the Route 37 Danbury-New Fairfield corridor.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Regarding the recent report on Route 37 between Danbury and New Fairfield:

I have lived in New Fairfield all my life, nearly 70 years, and have been driving for 54 of those. It goes without saying that I have spent many miles and a lot of time between Danbury and New Fairfield on that route. I’ve seen many changes in both towns and along that route.

The plan you recommend for this area is, for lack of a gentler word, boneheaded. I will try to lay out the many reasons that WestCOG has completely missed the mark.

Only recently we in New Fairfield and northern Danbury had to suffer through 3-4 years of delays while the Stacey Road to Barnum Road project was in progress. Yet after all those delays for some reason there was no plan for a left turn lane from the northbound lane of Route 37 into Barnum Road. What kind of lack of foresight was responsible for that? And who thought that a stop light at Stacey Road would be a good idea in winter when the uphill traffic would get stuck, losing any momentum required for the hill? And what was the purpose of a sidewalk to nowhere between Stetson Place and Barnum Road?

Just this past week Route 37 was again stopped for some sort of work across from Peck Road. I measured backups of 1.2 miles into New Fairfield at Woodridge Lane and 2.1 toward Danbury at Jeannette Street. This went on for three days at least. I gave up traveling that way after Wednesday, July 21, as wait times stretched beyond minutes into higher double digits.

This kind of disruption is unsustainable, maddening, and unnecessary. Should any of your plan go forward, to where will New Fairfield traffic be diverted? Up Gillotti Road and over to Route 39? That would be a disaster waiting to happen as New Fairfield schools are on Gillotti and Danbury High School is on 39. Routes 37 and 39 are the only two options in and out of New Fairfield.

Now let’s talk about a few other items.

 A walking path around Margerie Reservoir? The only good idea you have as long as it’s far enough off of 37 so that construction does not interfere with traffic flow.

 A sidewalk from Barnum Road to Bear Mountain Road? For your information, no one walks on Route 37! It is completely unnecessary and construction would be a nightmare for what, another four years?

 Stop lights — there’s a reason they’re called that. It’s because they impede the flow of traffic, not promote its flow. No lights at Peck Road, Beat Mountain Road or Sawmill!

The report estimates costs at between $4.7 million and $7.8 million. Well we all know it would be closer to $10 or $11million by the time you’ve hired and fired a few contractors — as the Stacey Road project showed. All for what, another sidewalk to nowhere? More lights, more congestion and frustration, more angry motorists?

WestCOG would better use that kind of money to improve driver training instead of the current requirement for a driver’s license to be only a pulse. Perhaps more courses in the basic physics of the behavior of mass in motion, perhaps an emphasis on the importance of proper use of turn signals, perhaps showing the advantages of simple courtesy such as the “zipper” merge, perhaps reducing the distractions of technology while driving. Now wouldn’t that be a better use of that money? Would not all of us benefit?

I hope this letter drums up support for quashing this proposal before it develops any traction.

Tom Perkins is a New Fairfield resident.