Audubon, residents want sound barriers

Audubon, supporters want protection from noise

Groups of concerned Fairfield residents will be joining forces Saturday, June 21, for a rally in support of erecting safety barriers at Exit 22, where the new rest area on I-95 is being built. The rally will include neighbors, public officials, members of the Sasqua Garden Clun, the Birdcraft Museum and the Connecticut Audubon Society, among others, and will begin at 10 a.m.

The public is invited and is asked to wear green for safety and to park in the area of Round Hill Road. This is the second rally that has been staged in support of building the barriers. The first demonstration was held on May 3.

State Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-133) noted that the failure to construct safety barriers along the northbound project will bring dramatically substantial increases in noise pollution, deteriorating air and water quality, and aesthetic impacts to the Birdcraft Sanctuary.

Fawcett noted that a similar construction site in Darien abutting Selleck Woods received both safety barriers and a new drainage system, but to date the contractor, Doctors Associates/Paul Landino, has refused to make the improvements at the Fairfield location.

“It’s basically because the people in Darien screamed loudly and we haven’t,” said Fawcett. “Well, come Saturday that is going to change.”

Fawcett said the first rally in favor of the improvements seemed to get the contractor’s attention, but the groups will be out there again Saturday because nothing has happened to this point. She added that the contractor will have to secure the approval of the Board of Directors of his company for approval and said, “We want to make sure his Board of Directors are listening.”

Specifically, the group is requesting that along the northbound side of I-95 between Unquowa Road and half-way to Round Hill Road there be a 20’ safety barrier erected, along with native species plantings to mask it, and that an advanced storm water filter and drainage system be installed on the south side of the plaza to protect the sanctuary’s wetlands, extensive wildlife, and the underlying ground waters.

The Exit 22 project is part of a statewide project to rebuild all of Connecticut’s rest areas. The plazas will now feature Subway restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts, a gas station and a convenience store. Some rest areas are set to re-open this summer, although that will not be the case in Fairfield.

In a letter to Commissioner James P. Redeker of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Alexander R. Brash, President of the Connecticut Audubon Society expounded on how the lack of barriers and drainage will specifically impact the Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary.

Brash wrote: The expansion and reconfiguration of the Rest Area / Service Plaza adjacent to Birdcraft Sanctuary will:

•    Decrease the air quality at the sanctuary to the detriment of those visiting it, especially thousands of schoolchildren;
•    Increase public safety issues, as more traveling truck drivers and others will inherently have greater unfettered access to the community;
•    Irreversibly erode the public benefits which underlie the sanctuary’s creation by dramatically increasing the noise impacts –  in a nature sanctuary no less!; increase the probability of water quality impacts and establish a permanent threat to the site, and
•    Decrease the esthetic values of the sanctuary, especially due to increased visual impact of highway traffic.

Brash added that the improvements will result in a safer sanctuary, cleaner air, increased privacy, better views and a quieter environment.

Organizers are asking anyone planning to attend the rally to bring neighbors, friends, children and spouses to lend support.




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