First Selectman Kevin Moynihan on Tuesday slammed state officials for not allowing water-filled plastic barriers in front of a restaurant on Main Street, part of the town’s efforts to create more outdoor dining space for food service establishments.
Designed to create a safe pedestrian walkway where about three parallel parking spots had been, while allowing an Italian restaurant to expand its outdoor dining area under a plan the town adopted two weeks ago, the barriers have been removed by order of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, according to Moynihan.
Main Street doubles in the heart of downtown New Canaan as state Routes 106 and 124 and the DOT “didn’t like our plastic barriers,” he said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held via videoconference.
“In their wisdom, they objected to our plastic barriers and made us remove them,” Moynihan said. “So in this instance, the state government proved themselves to be totally inflexible and despite the efforts by our [General] Assembly people, the DOT operates by their own drummer.”
Asked by Selectman Nick Williams what the state’s reasoning was, Moynihan said, “They only allow concrete barriers on state roads, even though [Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann] tried to prove to them that plastic barriers when filled with water have been tested for safety.”
The Police Commission two weeks ago approved a plan, developed by citizen volunteers, to use the barriers to create “bump-outs” at four locations downtown— on Elm, Forest and Main Streets. Only the Main Street location comes within the state Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction. Restaurants as of May 20 were allowed to offer socially distanced outdoor dining, as per an order from Gov. Ned Lamont, in addition to pickup and delivery. Asked about the matter, Kevin Nursick of the state agency’s Office of Communications said, “With the initial configuration of the barriers, the DOT had safety concerns for both diners and motorists.