The last few days have been quite memorable for riders of Metro-North Railroad. For all the wrong reasons.
Just as the railroad was severely rattled by the heavy snows of last winter, the recent heat wave has unleashed a fresh set of service woes over the last few days.
The triple-digit heat last Friday, in particular, triggered a series of problems, most notably the train that stalled on the tracks in the Green’s Farms section of Westport, trapping several hundred passengers — including three pregnant women — in stifling conditions on board for well over an hour.
Numerous other trains were disabled or scratched from the schedule, wreaking havoc all night and causing delays all day on Saturday.
Monday served up more problems for Metro-North, with the derailment of a maintenance train west of the Fairfield Center station, which in turn caused all kinds of problems for commuters Tuesday morning.
Here’s how Metro-North officials explain things in an apologetic statement issued Tuesday afternoon:
“To Our New Haven Line Customers: An Explanation For the Recent Delays to Your Commute”
“We are taking this opportunity to provide an explanation of the two different disruptions to your service that have occurred recently.
“On Friday afternoon, a number of trains were delayed when record-breaking temperatures caused wires in the New Haven Line’s antiquated catenary system to sag in a number of locations between South Norwalk and New Haven. Overloaded power systems also caused transformers and substations to shut down. As a result, trains were either blocked in or were disabled, causing significant delays on the entire line. While we responded to each location as quickly as possible, we continue to review our procedures both internally and with local emergency responders and will make any improvements that are necessary.
“This morning’s delays of up to 40 minutes between New Haven and Stamford resulted from a work train that derailed west of Bridgeport around midnight.
“Our emergency crews arrived at the derailment within 20 minutes. A crane was immediately dispatched to re-rail the work train, and crews were dispatched to make repairs to the track. However, because of the extent of the damage and the location of the derailment, it was determined that we could not successfully re-rail the train and make repairs to the track without causing even more disruption and delay to your AM Peak.
“Of the four tracks in this area, two (between Southport and Bridgeport) have been out of service continuously for the catenary and bridge replacement project. Only one track remained in service in this area, a bottleneck that caused delays and required us to combine five trains causing some crowded conditions.
“The train was re-railed and towed clear of the track at 10 AM and we are currently making repairs to the track. We anticipate having all repairs completed for this evening’s rush hour.
“We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced during either of these events.”
The recently established committee leading Fairfield’s renewed efforts to gain control of the Penfield Reef Lighthouse is seeking donations for the project.
The Penfield Reef Lighthouse Preservation Committee was established several weeks ago by the Board of Selectmen after learning the federal government is putting the lighthouse up for sale in an auction. The lighthouse, dating to 1874, is on the block again after the federal government took back the property from Beacon Preservation, the non-profit awarded control in 2008. That action was rescinded after Beacon became embroiled in a dispute over the rights to the property’s bottomlands.
After the selectmen voted to try to gain control of the landmark off the town’s shoreline, the committee launched a drive for private donations to make a bid it will place in the online auction for the lighthouse. The government auction closes on Sept. 30.
If the committee succeeds in gaining ownership of Penfield Reef Lighthouse, it plans to continue to seek donations to restore the lighthouse’s structural integrity and return it to its historical character, the committee said in a statement.
The committee has established these donation levels: Lighthouse Keeper, $25; Petty Officer, $50; Ensign, $100; Lieutenant, $250; Commander, $500; Captain, $750; Admiral, $1,000, and Fleet Benefactor, over $1,000.
Anyone wishing to make a donation should make checks payable to “Penfield Reef Lighthouse Preservation” and mail or drop them off to the First Selectman’s Office at 725 Old Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.
Questions or ideas about the lighthouse-acquisition effort may be addressed to Lighthouse Committee Co-Chairmen Sandye Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bill Sapone at email@example.com.
After Fairfield Republicans selected the candidates for the November municipal election in a townwide caucus Tuesday, the Democrats will follow suit on Thursday.
In a smaller and shorter affair, the Democrat Town Committee — rather than registered party members — will choose their party’s standardbearers at a meeting set for 7 p.m. in the Board of Education central office on Kings Highway.
Michael Tetreau, the interim first selectman, is expected to be unopposed for the nomination to seek the office in his own right, along with his running mate, Representative Town Meeting member Cristin McCarthy-Vahey.
Even though the voting is limited to town committee members, the meeting is open to the public.
Fairfield Republicans head to the polls today — Tuesday, July 19 — to select their slate of candidates for the November election.
The caucus balloting, open to any of the more 10,300 registered Republicans in town, takes place from noon to 8 p.m. at the regular polling places in the town’s 10 voting districts:
District 1: Oldfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace
District 2: St. Pius Church school, 834 Brookside Drive
District 3: Dwight School, 1600 Redding Road
District 4: Osborn Hill School, 760 Stillson Road
District 5: McKinley School, Knapps and Thompson Street
District 6: Fairfield Warde High School, Melville Avenue
District 7: North Stratfield School, 190 Putting Green Road
District 8: Holland Hill School, Meadowcroft Road
District 9: Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road
District 10: Sherman School, Fern Street
Headlining the contest is the three-way race for the first selectman nomination between Board of Finance member Robert Bellitto Jr., Representative Town Meeting member David Becker and firefighter Hugh Dolan.
The caucus results, however, are still subject to a primary challenge.
Like swallows winging their way back to Capestrano, book lovers will be returning to Southport — from around town and around the world, literally — for the annual summer book at the Pequot Library, which gets under way July 22 at the landmark library, 720 Pequot Ave.
The five-day event, reputed to be one of the largest in the Northeast, features everything from rare and classic editions to the popular paperbacks, as well as sheet music, comic books, prints, CDs, LPs, DVDs and tapes. And more!
Hours of the sale are: July 22, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. All items double the marked price.
July 23, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. All items priced as marked.
July 24, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. All items priced as marked.
July 25, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All items half-price.
July 26, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. $5 per bag day
For the complete book on the Pequot sale, go here.
The recent revelation that construction work on Fairfield Metro, the town’s third railroad station, may be as much as $2 million to $6 million over budget, stunned most town officials and the public alike.
Now, town boards and commission are trying to control the size of the bill that, however large, will be Fairfield’s responsibility to pay because of the renegotiated contract among the project’s three partners — the town, the state and private developer, Blackrock Realty.
For an unvarnished look at where things stand on this latest bump along the long and winding road to completing the train station, read the complete report released by interim First Selectman Michael Tetreau here.
Fairfield’s annual pyrotechnical salute to the Fourth of July will be, as is traditional, on Monday, the Fourth itself.
The star-spangled sky show explodes — probably about 9:15 p.m. — over the town’s waterfront, with prime viewing from Jennings and Penfield beaches. Before the fireworks, music is on tap: Atwood Express Oldies Band at Jennings from 5 to 7 p.m. and the Shamrogues at Penfield from 7 to 9 p.m.’
Beach permits are not required Monday night, with free parking at both beaches after 6 p.m.
For complete details, check here.
As of July 1, recycling in Fairfield is about to get a lot easier.
The town, along with several other communities in the region, will switch to “single-stream” recycling, which basically ends the previous practice of separating various recyclable materials and allows all of them to be put into that blue recycling bin together.
One of the dynamics behind the process is that paper mixed with bottles and cans cushions the glass during transport and handling and reduces the overall breakage.
Using an automated process, density and optical scanners will now separate the individual recycled commodities. Nationwide, single-stream recycling typically increases the rate of recycling by 20 to 30 percent, officials report.
Here’s a detailed list of what can — and what cannot — be recycled in the new single-stream system.