Debora Goldstein is a Third Taxing District commissioner and an East Norwalk resident.
To the Editor:
Public Letter to the Governor, Lt. Governor, State Majority Leader, State Representatives, Western Connecticut Council of Governments, Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, and the MetroNorth Railroad:
At every opportunity for public comment for almost two decades, residents of our community have decried spending state-administered federal transportation dollars on a set of linked projects that will require the lowering of the clearance under MetroNorth railway bridge No. 03691R by two feet more than is necessary to effect the structural changes to improve the bridge. The additional clearance is conveniently just the amount necessary to allow standard 13-foot, 8-inch tractor-trailer trucks to pass underneath.
We have asked our Common Council to intervene, and four times in the last five years, they have stood by the community and voted to defend property-owners in the area.
Despite this, the employees of the state Department of Transportation, continue to pursue plans which included the radical alteration of the main drag of our downtown. Despite concerns about the eventual safety of the grade, the degradation of the community feel of our neighborhood from trucks diverting off the highway, increased pollution and rising sea-levels, this plan continues apace.
The concerns of our neighbors, and our businesses, deserve to be given fair and equitable treatment.
Bridge strikes reportedly create a minor inconvenience to railway passengers as often as twice a year, but this alteration will have an effect on residents and businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
We are reportedly hostage to regulations that mysteriously apply only to this bridge. Other similarly situated bridges, including Westport, Rowayton and Darien, all have clearances smaller than the one we currently have – never mind the one proposed. Clearly, if there is a will, there is a way.
This project is not only unpopular, but it is a waste of tax-payer dollars at the federal, state and municipal levels. Inexpensive solutions to prevent bridge strikes, and sensible preservation of the current clearance will enhance the safety and character of our neighborhood and save money.
The artificial crisis created by linking this project to the timelines for the Walk Bridge is intended to make us feel helpless. But, we are not helpless. You can, and must, step in to ask that state employees and timelines be responsive to the needs of the tax-payers they serve. Please ask the DOT to revisit the bridge clearance as soon as possible.