Tree clearing in Torrington causing controversy [WFSB]

December 9, 2015


WFSB 3 Connecticut

TORRINGTON, CT (WFSB) – Trees are starting to disappear in part of the state, and the Department of Transportation said it is part of a plan to keep drivers safe on the roads.

Route 8 is a popular way to get from Torrington to Waterbury, and is where the DOT has started taking trees out, but some people aren’t happy about it.

“It looks like a nuclear dead land,” said Bill Sesko, who lives in Torrington and said he has always enjoyed seeing trees along Route 8. “I think it’s a lousy murdering of trees.”

Some residents were so unhappy that they complained to State Senator Kevin Witkos, who blasted the $113,000 project.

In a letter to the DOT commissioner, he said “I don’t believe it’s appropriate to spend so much clear cutting at a time, when our state faces a massive budget deficit this year and in future years.”

“The reason for that is safety. When cars go off the road and they impact an immoveable object, people die,” said Kevin Nursick, of the Department of Transportation.

The DOT said what is happening along Route 8 isn’t unique to Torrington.

After Winter Storm Alfred hit Connecticut in Oct. 2011, the DOT began removing trees from many highways including Route 2 in Glastonbury.
“That clear zone is generally 30 feet. The higher the speeds the greater the clear zones. So in the case of Route 8, the clear zone needs to be up to 40 feet wide in some location,” Nursick said.

“I think it’s kind of necessary with the way storms have been in the past. It’s making it safer for everybody,” said driver Tim Green.

The tree clearing will continue through the state, and the DOT said they just received the senator’s letter on Friday and are in the process of reviewing it.