Wilton commuter lot underused, in poor condition

The Park and Ride lot at the intersection of Route 7 and Wolfpit Road in Wilton is underutilized and in poor condition, but the same cannot be said about the Cannondale Metro-North train station and Wilton Metro-North train station, according to the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) 2018 Western Connecticut Commuter Parking Inventory report.

WestCOG is a council dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life and economic vitality in western Connecticut. Its annual Commuter Parking Inventory reports on observed usage and conditions of parking lots in its 18 member towns in western Connecticut.

Wilton’s Park and Ride and two train station lots were observed Feb. 22. The Connecticut Department of Transportation is the managing authority of all three lots.

Park and Ride

At the time of observation, only 13 of the 52 parking spaces in Wilton’s Park and Ride lot were taken — 37 spaces in the general parking area and both handicapped spaces were vacant.

According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Park and Ride lots are intended for “normal daily commuting by the traveling public,” and only passenger cars, vans and pickup trucks with either individual or combination license plates are allowed.

In terms of the lot’s condition, there was damaged signage, a damaged metal guardrail in the southwestern section of the lot, “light trash,” and pavement in “poor condition” and in need of resurfacing.

“It may be worthwhile to address drainage patterns in the lot,” the report states, “as the relatively flat grade of the location seems to have caused the cracking throughout the location.”

The report also notes that the lot needs to be “restriped for all spaces” and the signage and guardrail “should be repaired.”

On the afternoon of May 17, The Bulletin observed 16 cars in Wilton’s Park and Ride lot. The guardrail and pavement were still in need of fixing.

One possible factor for the low utilization WestCog and The Bulletin observed at the Park and Ride is the usage pattern of the Norwalk River Valley Trail’s Wilton Loop. The entrance to the trail is across the street from the lot, on the other side of Route 7.

The results of the University of Connecticut’s Connecticut Trail Census study conducted last year showed that Wilton Loop usage is highest on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays accounted for 37% of the Wilton Loop’s weekly total, while the other days of the week each averaged 13%. Observations conducted by WestCOG and The Bulletin both took place on Thursdays. The study also showed that trail usage is higher during warmer months.

Cannondale train station

At the time of WestCog’s survey, 137 of the 141 available spaces at the Cannondale train station were in use. These included 135 of the 136 general area parking spaces and two of the five handicapped spaces.

The Cannondale train station at 22 Cannon Road has an unoccupied station building with a heated waiting area, as well as a separate building with bathrooms. Although the main structure “needs repainting,” WestCOG’s report states, the structures are in overall “good condition.”

At the time of observation, the lot was trash-free but in “poor condition,” according to the report, noting “cracked and potholed pavement” and “exposed rebar from damaged curb stops.”

“This lot could benefit from resurfacing and needs to be restriped,” the report states.

When it comes to signs, the report states, there is a lack of “directional signage” to the station from Route 7, but “the signage displaying the hours for permit use and the distinction between the various lots offers a necessary convenience to commuters."

Wilton train station

At the Wilton train station, 239 of the 251 available parking spaces were in use — 234 of the 240 general area parking spaces and five of the 11 handicapped spaces.

While close, the station at 7 Station Road is “not easily accessible” to the nearby HARTransit-operated Route 7 Link and Norwalk Transit District’s 4 Route.

The report notes that the planned pedestrian bridge to connect the train station with Wilton Center would “allow for easy connections to the two bus routes.” However, the pedestrian bridge was tabled to a later date last August after only one contractor bid on the work and the $1.2-million price quoted came in at twice the amount of money available to build it.

The Wilton train station building is in “excellent condition,” according to the report, and the parking lot area was “clean and free of trash” at the time of observation. The pavement, however, is cracked and needs restriping.

Overall, the report states, the Wilton train station lot offers “several convenient amenities to commuters,” including posted schedule information, waste receptacles, newspaper vending machines, and “a shelter with a ticketed vending machine” adjacent to the station building.

WestCOG’s 2018 Western Connecticut Commuter Parking Inventory Individual Lot Summaries report: https://bit.ly/2InRdXD