Connecticut town halts guardrail upgrades after residents complain barriers aren't attractive

WILTON (AP) — A Connecticut town has halted guardrail improvements following complaints about the look of new steel barriers on some residential streets.

Wood and wire guardrails traditionally have lined the roads in Wilton, a Fairfield County town on the line with New York state. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice imposed a moratorium on upgrades this month after residents raised issues with the aesthetics of the steel replacements.

"We're trying to be reactive to complaints," said Chris Burney, director of the town's public works department.

The town had been installing steel guardrails in sections, such as along bends and near culverts, on two roads where the old guardrails were showing their age. The moratorium will provide an opportunity to conduct engineering studies and assess alternative guardrail styles and whether guardrails are even needed on those roads, Burney said.

While the roads in question are under the town's jurisdiction, Burney said the town also needs to be mindful about liability issues in the event something goes wrong if it chooses not to follow the state-established standards.

The state considers upgrades to meet the latest standards necessary any time improvements are needed beyond repairs from a crash or something similar, Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said.

"If you decide to rebuild your kitchen, you have to bring the plumbing and electrical up to code," he said. "The same thing happens with the road."

Requirements vary by setting, but the standards call in most cases for metal beam-style guardrails, Nursick said.

On occasion the state has received complaints about the aesthetics of metal guardrails it has installed on state-administered roads, he said. There was a time when the state tried to accommodate such complaints by using a steel that took on a weathered look, but he said officials have since done away with that because of concerns about rust.



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