Rep. Polletta and Sen. Berthel Hold Joint Meeting with DOT Commissioner, Local Officials to Discuss Main St. Safety

October 4, 2019

(L-R) State Rep. Joe Polletta, DOT Commissioner Joseph Giuletti, Watertown Police Commission Chairman Richard Antonetti, and State Sen. Eric Berthel.

WATERTOWNState Representative Joe Polletta (R-68) and State Senator Eric Berthel (R-32) on Wednesday hosted local police and town officials at a productive roundtable discussion with Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Joseph Giuletti and his staff concerning roadway safety issues on Main St./Rt. 63 here.

The meeting, which took place at the Watertown Police headquarters, centered on a 2018 Road Safety Audit (RSA) compiled by the DOT that highlights safety issues on Main St. and makes short, medium, and long-term improvement recommendations, including pedestrian signal upgrades, crosswalk repainting, and a study of traffic and pedestrian patterns. In particular, Rep. Polletta and Sen. Berthel invited the commissioner to discuss how the town and DOT could collaborate on moving some of these projects along.

“The ongoing safety concerns on Route 63 have become a very important issue over the last few years, which really was the motivation for the town to request the RSA,” said Rep. Polletta. “This meeting was organized so that the public could receive an update from the DOT and town as a united front on permitting and funding for necessary repairs and renovations. I want to thank the commissioner and his staff for helping to convey this information in a professional and knowledgeable manner.”

The town of Watertown requested the RSA after two fatal pedestrian crashes in 2016 and 2018 increased public attention to pedestrian safety on the corridor.

“In a town like Watertown, with many miles of state highways, having the DOT Commissioner in town, in person, at this meeting was a priority and something I took very seriously,” added Sen. Berthel. “Transparency should be the key word in this process.”

The town, for its part, has begun implementing short and medium-term improvement recommendations included in the safety audit, such as commissioning the traffic study, assessing the necessity of signage throughout the corridor, and eliminating signs that are not needed or that may be confusing. But, because Rt. 63 is a state highway, many of the recommended improvements, like sidewalk repair and construction, require permitting, bonding, or funding from the DOT, whose response to requests from the town have been sluggish.

“What we have been trying to work out is a collaborative effort between the DOT, the Public Works Department, and the Police Department,” Watertown Police Commission Chairman Richard Antonetti said during the meeting. “If we can achieve that, we will have a safe Main Street, we would hope to have movement of traffic safely, and see new businesses going there.”

The DOT brought news that six of the traffic signals on Main St. would soon be replaced or upgraded with new technology, as well as brought up to compliance with modern accessibility standards. These upgrades, said DOT engineers, would help streamline traffic flow, clear some of the notorious congestion on Rt. 63, and encourage pedestrians to use the crosswalks safely.

In addition, the DOT has heeded the town’s concern that parking signs installed last year along the corridor did not allow enough permissible parking time for patrons at businesses in the area, and a work order has been filed to replace 29 30-minute parking signs with 2-hour signs.


Commissioner Giuletti responded positively to the feedback and concerns laid out by the town.


“It’s a pleasure to come in here and see what you have been doing—you’re doing all the right things,” said Giuletti of the meeting. “It’s nice to be in a position where I can hear that what I’ve already gone through in terms of an internal review is fully understood and being explained here so that we’re all on the same page” about the progress of collaborative projects between the town and DOT.


Rep. Polletta and Sen. Berthel also viewed the meeting as productive in achieving the safety goals of the town.


“Overall, the meeting was a huge success,” continued Rep. Polletta. “It’s clear that the DOT and town have the same safety goals in mind, and I am optimistic that we can continue to have these productive conversations with the DOT and begin to see more progress on these very important projects.”


“I appreciate Commissioner Giuletti and his staff coming out to Watertown and giving this update on the recommendations to improve safety on Main Street,” added Sen. Berthel. “It’s important that people be informed about the plans moving forward.”