Route 69 might soon be protected

A labor of love may soon come to fruition for many residents in Bethany and Woodbridge. Route 69, known as Litchfield Turnpike and Carrington Road, could soon be designated a scenic road way under Public Act 887-280, which authorizes the Commissioner of Transportation to designate state highways or portions as scenic roads in consultation with the Commissioners of the Department of Environmental Protection and Economic and Community Development.

In order to qualify as a state scenic highway the stretch of road must abut significant natural or cultural features such as agriculture land or historic buildings and structures that are listed on the national or state register of Historic Places, or afford vistas of marshes, shoreline, forests with mature trees or other notable natural or geologic feature which singularly or in combination set the highway apart from other state highways as being distinct.

In his letter to the Department of Transportation Commissioner, Bethany Conservation Commission Chairman Ken Martin wrote, "The two applications encompass approximately 10 miles of one of the unknown jewels of Connecticut Roads. This road has outstanding features."

Originally an investor owned the toll road known as "Strats Turnpike Company." Built in 1797, it connected the center of New Haven with the center of Litchfield

With 225 miles already designated since the state statute was first enacted in 1987 for state roadway, the 10-mile stretch from Bond Street in Woodbridge to Route 42 in Bethany will join stretches of highway such as the Merritt Parkway.

In his cover letter to the DOT commissioner, Donald Menzies, president of the Amity and Woodbridge Historical Society offered the society's support for the designation.

"The Amity and Woodbridge Historical Society is proud to work with (the) Bethany Conservation Commission to have 'The Litchfield Turnpike' designated as one of Connecticut's scenic highways," he wrote.

Colleen Kissane, chairperson for the Scenic Road Advisory Committee, recently sent a letter to First Selectman Roger Harrison promising an answer soon.

"The Advisory Committee's preliminary investigation indicates that the application has merit and warrants further consideration," Kissane wrote.

Martin, as well as other commission members give much of the credit for authoring the extensive document to Bethany resident Sandy Breslin, who spent many hours working on the detailed report submitted.

In the application many descriptive phrases appear.

"Throughout its length, Route 69 dips and curves like a winding road. Mature trees mixed with secondary-growth deciduous forest and pine plantations line the road in places and overhang it in others."

The description continues outlining the different seasons bringing new makeup to the rural area. It discusses the 3,000 acres owned by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.

A pictorial essay depicting many different views along the roadway was included in the packet. Winter scenes as well as summer and fall were noted. Highlighting historical homes such as the Thomas House circa 1750 and Henry Sangford House circa 1800 as well as spectacular vistas of West Rock Ridge in different seasons.

Letters of support accompanied the applications from both Woodbridge and Bethany. They included Bethany Board of Selectmen, Roger Harrison on behalf of the Woodbridge Board of Selectmen, Bethany and Woodbridge Conservation Commission's, Bethany Historical Society, Bethany and Woodbridge Land Trust, Bethany Wanderers, Bethany Residents for Rural Roads

Kissane said the committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to further review the application. Once they have reviewed the material she said they will tour the site. Once they have toured they will make a recommendation to the DOT Commissioner. He has 45 days to approve or deny the request and must notify the requesting agency within 15 days of his decision.

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposal may do so in writing no later than April 17. Correspondence should be mailed or delivered to Colleen Kissane, Chairperson, Scenic Road Advisory Committee, Connecticut Department of Transportation, 2800 Berlin Turnpike, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546.