In the Suburbs: Our local roads have become an amusement park

Wow! Fairfield into Bridgeport on Fairfield Avenue appears to have its own amusement park ride — the “dodge-em” obstacle course from the Post Road traffic circle through Black Rock and out to the entrance of I-95 north. But trust me, you wouldn’t want to take this “dodge-em” ride more than once unless you absolutely had to. It is a summer driving nightmare.

Last Sunday, I made the mistake of getting off there to stop at my favorite Pet Outlet in Black Rock. Fortunately, at 9:15 a.m. there wasn’t much traffic, so I could weave around those sewer covers like a real cowboy. I can only imagine what this wild ride is like on a busy day with heavy traffic along Fairfield Avenue. There is simply no room to navigate around the sea of bright orange sewer covers and drivers, who, ever unpredictable, may go left or right, depending on what suits them.

By the time I arrived at the Pet Outlet, my hands were stiff and my knuckles were white from driving through the orange maze. I joked with the Pet Outlet staff that drivers deserve a medal of honor for arriving at the store in one piece. They weren’t laughing and mentioned that most of the businesses along Fairfield Avenue weren’t happy about the prolonged inconvenience. And there has been some lost business also.

Of course, I can accept that summer through fall is probably the only time to complete this kind of work and I can also accept inconvenience, but this nightmare is dangerous and we drivers are on the honor system not to travel at higher speeds or weave too dangerously.

Aside from a construction zone sign, there was no indication for an innocent driver of how long this main thoroughfare will be torn up or for how many miles the road work continues. And with raised sewer covers, drivers have to be especially careful of the bottoms of vehicles. Driving directly over the edge of one cover can badly scratch or dent the car.

I probably can’t lodge a complaint with the towns of Fairfield and Bridgeport, because I’m pretty sure the work authorization comes from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT). And my complaint would probably fall on deaf ears since there is no law against repaving streets during the summer.

But I have to figure that some of our town leaders are experiencing the same inconvenience as I am and are probably unhappy about the street repairs also. Maybe they can contact The DOT to speed things up.

As I’ve experienced over the years, the actual repaving is no quick process either.

From what I read in a recent Hearst Connecticut Media piece, the paving will be happening throughout Bridgeport this summer into September. The reporter said, “the Department of Public Facilities will begin milling and paving roads throughout Bridgeport. The milling involves grinding and removing the outermost layer of pavement, which leaves the road rough in the meantime. Work crews then lay down new asphalt on the milled sections.”

I can’t wait to see where the eventual detours will take us if we have to get off I-95 south at Fairfield Avenue. Even exiting at Kings Highway will still lead into the small section of milled roads near the circle and won’t be great either.

Obviously, we need good roads to support infrastructure needs. It’s just the process we have to go through to get to those good roads. Oh well. As I have seen in other places like Stratford and other towns I’ve been to this summer, torn up roads are pretty common.

For now, I’ll just put on my crash helmet and play “dodge-ems” with other drivers for a little longer and hope the new asphalt gets done sooner not later. Orange is my new summer color.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.