Fairfield residents say they’re irritated by DOT’s decision to cut trees along I-95

Some Fairfield residents say they're missing trees along I-95 that were cut down by the state Department of Transportation over the last couple of weeks.
"Dramatic difference from a month ago to today. There's clear swaths of cleared land,” said Anamaria Terepka. 
Terepka's family moved onto Elm Street in Fairfield from New York City 10 years ago. She says a thick line of trees helped keep the noise reasonable in the spring and summer, until DOT crews arrived about two weeks ago.
"We literally woke up in the middle of the night, 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., to the sound of chainsaws. And in the morning, we saw the deforestation is quite significant,” she said.
From the Terepkas' backyard fence, it's just about a dozen yards to the I-95 shoulder, where much of that cutting took place. Neighbors say there has to be something done to mitigate the noise.
"Absolutely the trees were helpful. It was definitely not as loud as it is and you couldn't see the highway,” said Carmen Cotto, who has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years. She says she'd love to see sound and pollution barriers along the road.
"I see that they're going up in Stratford, because I guess they added a lane. They were protecting the people that lived in the condos there. But you know what, we need protection too,” Cotto said.
DOT officials say they typically only check noise levels or consider barriers after major, federally-funded expansion projects.
"Since we were just removing trees to keep the traveling public safe, there wouldn't be a noise analysis or a noise barrier put in place associated with this,” communications manager Josh Morgan said. He says unstable trees too close to I-95 pose a major hazard.
"We never want a tree to fall down across the highway, we don't want a tree to hurt anybody, to cause any damage to someone's property," said Morgan.
Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick says town leaders should have been more involved. She said in part in a written statement: "While the town doesn't have authority over the state DOT, and I understand the need to maintain the areas along the highway to make sure trees don't fall on cars, I did tell DOT I thought it was bad policy not to respond to a request for an on-site meeting from a town leader prior to tree cutting."