Selectmen vote to improve road, study options to improve safety

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WILTON — The town accepted a bid of $135,000 to rebuild and repave a piece of Lake Road, after selectmen conducted a walking tour of the the troubled stretch and heard the concerns of some of the residents.

The piece in question stretches from Main Street to the Walker Hill Road, covering 3,700 feet of pavement. In addition to being a heavily traveled street by both pedestrians and vehicles, residents complained at a public hearing held Tuesday evening that many people exceeded the 25 mph speed limit, resulting in a potentially dangerous situation. A variety of speed control options were discussed, including speed tables, movable speed bumps and more enforcement.

Resident Melissa Ellis, who lives on the road, said that she had concerns about vehicles exceeding posted speed limits. She noted that a dog owned by her family was killed by a vehicle last December.

“If we pave this road,” she warned, “and don’t do anything else, we’re going to create a race track.”

Other residents expressed the need for some sort of a sidewalk, which probably is unfeasible due to financial and space limitations, or a walking path. That might require the road be converted to a one way street, an option that is popular with some residents and not with others. Making it one way would alter the traffic patterns of the town, perhaps reducing the number of vehicles on Lake Road at the expense of other streets.

“I think making the road safe for pedestrians is a top priority,” Resident Nancy Marrow said. “I certainly would walk it more if it were safer.”

The other consideration is the lake. The shore of Wilson Lake is eroding, and the town has voted at Monday evening’s meeting to appropriate $3,500 for rip wrap and stone to slow that process. While such efforts will likely be successful, it does make widening the narrow road towards the lake very difficult.

“Until we walked it tonight,” Selectman Russell Black said, “I didn’t realize in how bad shape the shoreline was in.”

Selectman Terry Brann suggested widening the road away from the lake, but that would require an alteration of the slope on that side of the street. This would cause a plethora of potential problems, such as moving power line poles, hydrants, trees and manholes. It also would affect the land of property owners on that side of Lake Road.

Selectmen also are considering placing weight restrictions or closing the road for trucks without business on the road. This would help halt the erosion of the lake shore and destruction of Lake Road.

Selectman Irving Faunce, after the conclusion of the public hearing, successfully moved to accept a $135,000 bid for the paving of the road from the Bruce Manzer, Inc. He noted that other details, such as adding speed obstacles, creating a walking path, setting weight limits or making the road one way could be made later. The town did need to make a timely decision on the paving, as paving companies’ schedules fill up rapidly.

The town did set aside $196,000 for road work this summer. Other options, such as Temple Road and the Old Jay Hill Road remain viable options as well.

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