Super 7, Danbury line in vogue at legislative breakfast [Wilton Bulletin]

March 6, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Wilton Bulletin

As one would expect, the renewed possibility of a Super 7 limited-access highway dividing Wilton was the hot topic at a town hall meeting with state Sen. Toni Boucher and state Rep. Gail Lavielle Tuesday morning, Feb. 24.

Responding to worries about Super 7 expressed by members of the audience, Ms. Lavielle said the project “could topple or turn” residents’ “whole life upside down.”

Super Seven would “dramatically change the entire character of our towns,” Ms. Boucher said. “Because our taxes are so high, quality of life has become a big issue” for those looking to move into town.

With a highway cutting the middle of Wilton, the state senator argued, fewer people would be interested in moving to a town divided.

Ms. Lavielle said the recent transportation plan proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy that budgets $300 million for the project is ambiguous on whether the plan will ever be put into place. But Ms. Boucher warned this kind of plan should not be taken as just a “distraction.”

“It’s one of these attempts to get people very agitated, and very upset. … You can’t really live in this community and not be very aware of [Super 7],” Ms Lavielle said.

According to Ms. Lavielle, the governor’s office has told her to look at the long-range transportation plans — which include Super Seven — as “the kitchen sink.”

It’s a list “of anything anyone might want,” she said. “To do that to people who live along what might have been Super 7 is unconscionable … it makes people nervous, it worries them.”

She said instead of spending time and resources on a Super 7 project that may never get off the ground, the state government should instead focus on electrifying the Danbury branch of the Metro-North Railroad.

A bill to fully electrify the Danbury branch is currently in the Transportation Subcommittee of the Connecticut House of Representatives, but Ms. Lavielle said it’s not likely to leave the committee level without significant written testimony from the public.

It is not likely “there will be a committee bill on the Danbury or New Canaan line, but it would be very interesting if we could get a pile of correspondence” to show the chairman, she said.

“He is not unreceptive if he sees something very, very persuasive. I would love to see a proliferation of written testimony. I don’t think there is anyone in our towns and cities that doesn’t support a better Danbury line.”

Both Ms. Boucher and Ms. Lavielle lamented the cuts in social programs.

“There is $590 million that was scheduled to be spent that they’re cutting out of social programs,” Ms. Lavielle said. “Now one of the most disfavored populations is going to be the intellectual disabilities population. They’ve had their budget cut once and cut again; and once again they’re facing big cuts. Social Services, the Department of Children and Families, all of these folks are looking at cuts. Yet state employee wages and fringe benefits rise.”

The Legislative Breakfast was sponsored by the Wilton Chamber, the Wilton Library and the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.