Truck ban sought for Route 136
Updated 4:47 pm, Friday, February 25, 2011
Police officials and a community activist testfied at the state Capitol last week in favor of a bill that would ban trucks from Route 136 in Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Easton.
Residents of those communities have complained that a growing number of commercial trucks speeding along the narrow state route have compromised safety and are ruining the quiet ambience of the area, accoding to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Kim Fawcett,D-Fairfield/Westport.
Speaking at a public hearing of the legislature's Transportation Committee, Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said current state law governing the "No Through Trucks" postings on the road is "very difficult, if not impossible to enforce."
The proposed legislation would change Route 136's "No Thru Trucks" designation to a "No Trucks" statute, Fawcett said.
"We are seeking this technical change in statute because we believe this change will more accurately achieve the original intended protection for state road 136," Fawcett told the committee.
Don Beach, a resident of Fairfield's Greenfield Hill section, tesfified that tractor trailers from big-box retailers and semis hauling heavy equipment regularly rumble along Route 136 at high speeds "and we can feel the ground shake while they totally disregard the safety of our community."
Beach recently organized a campaign to back the legislation, and more than two dozen residents from the four-town area sent the traansportation committee statements in support of the bill.
Several other committee members said they, too, have heard complaints from constituents who live along winding country roads that have become bypasses for commercial truck traffic.
State Rep. Debra Lee Hovey, R-Monroe, said her town's law enforcement officials also have complained about their inability to enforce "No Thru Truck" laws.
"Dealing with the problem for so long requires a larger state solution to change the existing statute and empower local law enforcement so we can better do the job of keeping people safe," MacNamara said. He also suggested that lowering the speed limit for trucks would improve safety and strengthen local enforcement.
Fairfield Deputy Chief Chris Lyddy said truck traffic on Route 136 has been an issue for more than two decades.
"The road has a width of just 29 feet and is just too narrow for the type of traffic that traverses it each day," he said.
Committee leaders also suggested the bill's advocates contact the state Traffic Enforcement Commission about further strengthening existing regulations that impact the road.