In fact, there has been much discussion over the traffic issues in Wilmington and the bottleneck intersection in the center of the village over the past 40 years. There have been so many meetings that they are too numerous to recount. Any perusal of back issues here at The Deerfield Valley News office shows meetings discussing bypasses, interstate highways, traffic congestion, and assorted other issues back into the late 1960s.
During that time there have been a number of proposed solutions to solving the traffic issues in Wilmington village, from turning lanes and a wider bridge to bypasses north and south of the village to moving the entire village itself. For a variety of reasons none of those proposals have come to fruition.
Given that many at Monday’s meeting said traffic at the four corners, and in particular traffic backups, is a relatively mild inconvenience, perhaps it is time to leave well enough alone and let drivers fend for themselves. That could certainly be inferred by what many said Monday.
That would be a mistake, and not because the traffic through the village is so unbearable that we can’t stand another week of it.
No, it really boils down to a matter of long-term vision. We need to ask ourselves as a community what we want the village to look like in 20 years. Do we still want tractor-trailers rolling through town at all hours? Or do we want a village center that is pedestrian friendly, an attractive place for merchants to set up shop and residents and visitors to mingle and gather.
That long-term vision concept never really came up at Monday’s meeting, and that’s a shame. Most of the discussion centered on short-term fixes, like more crosswalks and changes in the traffic light timing. Those are all well and good, and deserve to be implemented.
But the big picture about how we want the village to develop and improve over the next generation wasn’t really talked about. It should be, and now is the perfect time to begin that discussion.
We as a community have to decide what it is we want for the village and then pursue it. In essence a decision has been made in a “de facto” way, which has been to do nothing.
Doing nothing, or very little, may have been all well and good up to now, but it seems shortsighted to let yet another decade slip by without developing some sort of plan for the village center and the accompanying traffic, either through or around it. The last thing anyone wants is to have another meeting 20 years from now rehashing the same topics that have been studied, surveyed, and talked about for the past forty years.