An accident caused by an SUV turning onto Route 7 from a side street caused a tanker-truck to crash and explode in Ridgefield, Connecticut yesterday. This resulted in a fiery explosion, the death of a truck driver, and the closing of Route 7. "It looks like a napalm attack or a jungle scene from Vietnam," First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. Flames were estimated to reach 600 feet into the air. Thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic for hours while they were forced to detour around the accident. A bridge was partially destroyed and Route 7 will not reopen for a few more days. "The tragedy of this accident has been compounded by the fact that this is one of the busiest roads in Connecticut, carrying thousands of commuters and other citizens every day,” Conecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said.
If you are at all familiar with the Norwalk to Danbury route, you know the only major road between these two major Connecticut cities is Route 7 - a two lane road through some very scenic towns - but with more traffic lights than you can shake a stick at, thus causing over 30,000 commuters a long enough commute time as it is. Several parts of Rt. 7 are standstill traffic, especially in Wilton where a series of near consecutuve traffic lights brings Rt 7 to a crawl. The lights in Wilton are timed very poorly since they are short green light durations, thus not allowing enough time to let traffic to get up to speed. There is nothing worse than seeing the light ahead turn green only to see just 6-10 cars make it through. If they just added 10 seconds to both sides - Rt 7 and the side street - just to be fair to Wilton residents, the traffic would move much more smoothly. Another light in Wilton by a school often stops the main Rt 7 traffic when there are no cars pulling out of the school - even during non-school hours. A simple sensor under the pavement would help here.
Route 7 is the route I take for 32 miles and 1 hour and 15 minutes when commuting to work and every morning the traffic seems just a tad worse than the day before due to the fast growing economy in Fairfield County. This is just another reminder of why the Super 7 Expressway needs to be built. For over 50 years environmentalists, community opponents and other opponents have blocked the building of the Super 7.
As tragic the death of this truck driver is, I do hope this tragedy brings attention to our state representatives how congested and dangerous Route 7 truly is. Because frustrated commuters are having longer and longer commutes, they take more chances and endanger other drivers. There is one stretch of highway in Norwalk but it stops at a rock wall as seen in this picture, forcing drivers travelling northboard to make a sharp 90 degree right turn followed by a left turn onto the two-lane old Route 7. They need to blast the damn rock wall and keep on going north through government owned lands.
Here's a top-down view of where they "stopped" the Super 7.(rock wall is bottom of arrow)
In fact, the government has already allocated the necessary land to build the Super 7 Highway on lands which WERE ALLOCATED DECADES ago for the Super 7 project. We're not talking about Eminent Domain here. We're not talking about dislodging hundreds of people from their homes. And even if we are talking about displacing some home owners, that is what eminent domain was created for - public roads, public schools and other public uses.
(Side note: A Connecticut town, Newtown, recently won a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court which allowed Newtown to 'steal' land from a neighborhood and give it to a private organization, namely Pfizer, so they could build a new headquarters. I whole-heartedly oppose this misuse of 'eminent domain' to take private property from one private citiizen and give it to a private corporation. Public use causes such as roads, schools, railroads, etc. for "public use" are applicable within reason.)
Opponents of the Super 7 argue that some wetlands will be impacted. I would argue whatever wetlands are lost or whatever negative environmental impact there may be is more than compensated by the what Super 7 will improve upon - namely saving on wasted fuel burned by thousands of commuters idling in standstill traffic, reduced carbon monoxide & other emissions, reduced fossil fuel usage, etc. And just think of other side effects like less stressed, friendlier, less grumpy New Englanders.
Below are two websites which discusses RT 7, the history of Route 7, and provide contact information to "support the cause" for building the Super 7. I encourage you to check out these websites and contact your local congressman. Also, feel free to post a comment here if you travel Route 7 regularly. Consider the comments an "informal online petition".