To the Editor:
The State of Connecticut has created a monster. Nurtured and nourished in the radioactivity of federal transportation funds, it is stomping its way across the state, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you—DOTzilla—the DOT being Connecticut’s Department of Transportation.
This hulking behemoth is laying waste to people, property, businesses and neighborhoods, and like its nearly unstoppable name-sake, our state legislators and executive branch appear to have no ability to control this beast.
ConnDOT is quite literally knocking down buildings, and seizing businesses in its zeal to “improve” transportation infrastructure. In one case a homeowner who tried to fight eminent domain died in the effort.
The most recent chapter in this saga…DOTzilla vs MileageTaxsaurus…has ConnDOT spending $300,000 on the study of a solution every last human being in the state believes is dead on arrival. State lawmakers on one side of the aisle are busy soliciting the public’s help to stop the study, even as the other side of the aisle is releasing a steady stream of assurances along the lines of “Read my lips…it ain’t gonna happen!”
While efforts to improve communications with ConnDOT, such as the link Senator Duff put on his State Senate website are appreciated, they miss the point entirely. Communication is not an end unto itself, especially when it is having little to no effect on ConnDOT’s decision-making process. Chairman Redeker had no problem communicating his veto to the residents of East Norwalk in a letter, even though they have been communicating displeasure with a plan to lower East Avenue to accommodate large trucks through its tiny main street for the last twenty years.
The controversial projects follow a well-worn path, with public hearings, open letters to various state employees and elected officials, crowds of protesting citizens and press conferences. Emails to various stake-holders blaze across the internet, like the useless missiles used to try to take the monster down. Law-makers express consternation on both sides of the aisle, write stern letters to ConnDOT and lament that meetings with ConnDOT are met with a wrecking ball.
What is the citizenry supposed to make of all of this? The fact is that our legislators do not appear to have a weapon large enough to take down this beast. Our own transportation fund pales in comparison to funds from the federal government that are fueling the rampage. Though we own the rails, stations and equipment that run on the Connecticut portion of the Metro-North railroad, we have no members on its board and no local rights of way when it comes to railroad projects.
Even now, the script is being written for another blockbuster (no pun intended), as ConnDOT prepares to replace the Walk bridge that straddles the river in between South Norwalk and East Norwalk. On September 7th at 10 am, citizens will converge on 10 Goldstein Place to hold a press conference. They will protest the monster that is bearing down on home-owners, business-owners, a portion of a beloved museum and the neighborhoods that depend on them, while it blows an oversized hole in its own budget with its atomic breath—a $465 million dollar price tag has mutated to $1 billion dollars.
Is there nobody who can stop DOTzilla?
Debora Goldstein is a Commissioner of the Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, representing East Norwalk