Wilton guardrail policy is under review

The town will remove some guardrails that have been criticized by residents for their appearance and questioned for their necessity.

The town will remove some guardrails that have been criticized by residents for their appearance and questioned for their necessity.

Jeannette Ross / Hearst Connecticut Media

The policy for placing steel guardrails along town roads has come under review after complaints lodged by several residents.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice’s office made the announcement on Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, and Vanderslice later said the moratorium went into effect July 3, after hearing from residents on July 1 and 2.

The announcement noted that Wilton has, for years, followed the state in replacing wood-and-wire guardrails with steel guardrails.

Several residents contacted Vanderslice, objecting to the aesthetics of steel guardrails recently installed on their street. This was followed by comments made at the July 18 public hearing for the Plan of Conservation and Development when two residents raised the issue.

At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 12, Jon Ottens of Wild Duck Road commented that the color of the guard rails does not match.

“The guard rails, I did notice, ... even the guard rails put in, they don’t match and it’s beyond my comprehension for such a great town for that to happen. Not only are they I think inappropriate but the way they were put in is inappropriate.”

Vanderslice said she expects there will be a presentation at the board’s Sept. 9 meeting on “what the regulations are, what the options are, we’ll go throught what the different costs are.”

“We’ll allow public comment so everyone can weigh in and we’ll make a determination,” she said. and expected information will be distributed ahead of time.

Ottens’ wife Elaine, also spoke, saying “the concept of putting economy way above practicality, above look and feel and not taking aesthetics into account is unimaginable.” She thought the money could have been better spend fixing the potholes.

They complained the new guardrails that were installed are like those on “every highway” and detract from the rural atmosphere of their neighborhoods.

“There’s a better way to incorporate beauty and safety,” said resident Pat Walsh, who referred to the newly installed guardrail on Wild Duck Road.

Roxanne Witke of Woods End Drive said she was concerned about keeping the rural aspects of town, which she feared were being lost.

“I am acutely concerned with what [Walsh] referred to, extracting the old wooden posts that were chained together that have been in my neighborhood as long as I’ve been here, which is 21 years,” she said. “The result is atrocious. … How would we have known about this without being asked our opinion?”

In response to the residents’ concerns, Vanderslice has issued a moratorium on further replacements until the Board of Selectmen can reconsider the town’s policy.

Alternative guardrail styles are being researched, the announcement said, and “guardrail placement practices versus requirements” are being reviewed.

The board is expected to hear the results at a meeting in September.

Residents can receive notice of the meeting by signing up for e-alerts on the town website, wiltonct.org, and selecting either Town News and Announcements or Board of Selectmen Minutes and Agendas.

Residents may comment after the presentation, either at the meeting or by email.

Those with questions, are encouraged to contact DPW and Facilities Director Chris Burney (Chris.Burney@wiltonct.org) or Vanderslice (lynne.vanderslice@wiltonct.org).