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Fairfield Residents Make Rallying Call For Sound Barriers At I-95 Rest Area

Fairfield residents hold a protest Saturday as they seek to have sound barriers built at the I-95 northbound rest area. Kurt Potter holds a sign saying barriers would help protect the nearby bird sanctuary. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Fairfield residents hold a protest Saturday as they seek to have sound barriers built at the I-95 northbound rest area. Construction materials can be seen behind them at the Exit 22 rest stop. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Fairfield residents once again took to the streets Saturday as they seek to have sound barriers installed at the under-renovation rest area on northbound Interstate 95.

About two dozen people gathered at the intersection of the I-95 off-ramp for Exit 22 and Round Hill Road beginning at about 10 a.m. They held signs and waved at passing motorists, with many motorists honking their horns in support as they drove by.

Kurt Potter, who was holding a sign that said "Keep All Our Little Birds Safe" in reference to a nearby bird sanctuary, said a barrier should be installed and called it simply a matter of fairness. He pointed to the installation of sound barriers by the rest stops in Darien and questioned why Fairfield couldn't have a barrier installed.

"It is not an unusual concept here. Why is Fairfield different?" he said. "There is a fundamental sense of fairness at play here, too. Why not us? Why others and not us?"

Traditionally called sound barriers, the safety barriers that the group hopes to get built would decrease noise as well as light and air pollution while also keeping the local community safe from potential threats at the rest area.

The barriers would also promote safety, said Sarah Essig. She described an incident last year in which a trucker spotted the track at nearby Fairfield Ludlowe High School from the highway, entered the property and used the track and the indoor workout rooms before being arrested on trespassing charges last May.

With the renovation work still ongoing at the rest area, the community has a chance to persuade the developer to erect the barriers.

The renovation work at the rest stop is being done by Project Services, which has the statewide contract for the job, said state Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield.

Fawcett, along with others, have met with the company to try to persuade it to add the barriers to the project. However, those discussions have failed to come to a resolution. Fawcett said it was simply a matter of money.

"It is cost, absolutely cost," said Fawcett, who added the issue is also one of fairness.

"It is absolutely an equity issue. Why does one community get safety barriers, get walls, and the other community doesn't?"

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, along with state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfeld, will hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue with the developer, state transportation officials, Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and other members of Fairfeld's state delegation. The meeting will be held at the Fairfield Board of Education's conference room.

The Darien Land Trust worked years ago when the rest area project in that town was still in the planning stages to have the sound barrier included in the contract for the renovations, Kupchick said.

For whatever reason, that didn't happen in Fairfield, she said, and now the community has to lobby for the barriers.

"It is kind of frustrating that Darien got something, and it is kind of frustrating that we did not get something," she said.

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