FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Concerned Fairfield residents turned out en masse at the northbound Exit 22 ramp to fight for safety barriers to be put up at the rest area being renovated on I-95.
Community leader Sarah Essig and others have been fighting to get safety barriers added to the renovation project since last year, said state Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield.
“This is one of the only times we can get safety barriers added to the project,” said Fawcett, because the project is still under construction. Once the buildings are completed, no safety barriers can be added, she said.
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.
“We’re going to have our street lit up 24-7” from the signs at the rest stop if the barrier isn’t installed, said Sara Potter, who lives on Hillcrest Road just a short distance from the highway.
For parents who live in the area, such as Patricia Boyd, the safety barriers are hugely important.
“I’ve got a son at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, and the fact that the trucker was able to get into the school makes me nervous,” Boyd said. She was referring to an incident in which a trucker spotted the track at nearby Ludlowe from the highway, entered the property and used the track and the indoor workout rooms before being arrested last May.
About 9,000 students said live in a 5-mile radius of the rest stop, said Cindy Vitale, of Fairfield. The safety barriers would stall any potential dangerous instances such as the trucker's trespassing.
“These are the only two rest areas [in the state] that exit into an urban area,” Vitale said. Without the barriers, “it presents so many opportunities for danger to our community.”
Adding the safety barriers to the project now wouldn’t damage the nearly $500 million in expected revenue from the rest area for the Carlyle Group, Vitale said.
“What we’re asking for is a work change order,” she said. Putting the barriers in “would make them a good neighbor.”
Fawcett and Essig said there will soon be an online petition made to present to the contractors in hopes that they will put the barriers in as they did at the renovated rest stops in Darien last year.