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Articles (including letters to editor) - pro and con are listed below.
Budget crisis stalls transportation upgrades
Alternatives on the Table
Freeway no More
Connector may gain traffic signals
Highway tolls are back on legislature's table
Tolls back on
Route 7/15 Interchange - DOT explains project
Stamford Advocate editorial for interchange
Merritt-Route 7 redesign funded
spend $4M on interchange redesign
Obituary for Barbara Quincy -
key proponent for this highway
Report: State's roads, bridges, need
work (Norwalk Hour)
Lawmakers run down mileage tax
Fed Up -Murphy, others highlight need for
electrification of rail lines (Norwalk Hour)
Governor breathes new life into Super 7
Governor to Ramp up Rt 7
- Merritt Overhaul
SWRPA report on Route 7 corridor
Malloy wants more lanes on I-84 in Danbury
ConnDOT to restart planning for Merritt
Super 7 project in Limbo as state keeps focus
Gov. Malloy launches strategic transportation
Norwalk River Valley Trail takes big step
Route 7 series
offered no solutions, but here's one: extend expressway
I-95 widening to get started in Norwalk
Work to begin to alleviate I-95, Route 7
Traffic congestion choking region
Developer hoping to buy state land earmarked
for Super 7 in Danbury
Regional planning agency defends its efforts
to study Route 7 traffic and land use
Duff urges planners to support Route 7
Planning Officials to air options for Route 7
Transportation takes center stage at forum
Route 7 study group focuses on transportation,
SWRPA seeks public input on Route 7 woes
Route 7 expressway unrealistic, leaders say
Leaders call for Route 7 transit study
Leaders ponder in-depth Route 7 traffic study,
transit funding requests
UConn Stamford poll indicates support for
Super 7 expressway
Route 7 Land must be kept for highway
(editorial, The Hour)
State DOT Considers Selling Route 7 property
the 'Super 7' option open - Editorial, Advocate
Super 7's Cost, Letter to Editor, Advocate
Letter to Editor, Wilton Villager
Letter to Stamford Advocate regarding Gov.
Rell (pdf file)
Letter to Stamford Advocate (pdf file)
Letter to Ms. Simmat, Mr. Hammersley, Mr.
Editorial, Wilton Villager
Town of Weston supports Super 7 (letter from selectman)
Learning from Route 7 by Senator
Bob Duff (pdf file)
Wilton senator wants to end 'Super 7' project
Route 7 Interchange to get hearing in Norwalk
new life into Super 7
Wilton Bulletin 2/19/15
Although he did not mention it in his
budget address Wednesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s 30-year transportation
plan includes $300 million for “Super 7.” That is the subject head given
under a $10-billion highway plan. The entry reads: Extension of
Route 7 Expressway in Norwalk north to interchange of Route 7 and Route
33 in Wilton. There is another $40 million allotted to reconstruct
existing Route 7 from Grist Mill Road in Norwalk to the intersection of
Route 7 and Route 33 in Wilton, expanding the current two lanes to four
State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) was
very displeased with the news. “This is what they’ve always
wanted,” she told The Bulletin on Thursday, Feb. 19, “this huge
cloverleaf that would decimate this town.” She called on anyone —
particularly Democrats — who supported the governor in his re-election
to oppose it. “There’s so much more that’s important,” Ms. Boucher
said. “Can you imagine with $300 million what they can do to the branch
line? What are they thinking?”
Super 7 was originally on the drawing
board decades ago and spent years in litigation before the idea was
shelved in favor of widening Route 7. Many thought the plan was dead.
In addition to his Route 7 plans, the governor would spend $200 million
on reconstructing and reconfiguring the interchange between Route 7 and
the Merritt Parkway. This would include final ramp connections to and
from the east and from the west with enhancements to the existing old
Route 7 interchange area with the Merritt. “The governor was very
careful not to mention anything but the interchange on Route 7 because
it overshadows all the good [in the plan],” Ms. Boucher said. The
details on the Route 7/Super 7 plans are on page 56 of the governor’s
30-year plan, which can be found on the state website, ct.gov;
click on Department of Transportation.
Ms. Boucher said the extension from Grist
Mill to Route 33 would be akin to “a death by 1,000 cuts. Their true
goal is a super highway to Danbury. Were Super 7 to be built in this
area it would be elevated to go over wetlands and hills. “The clover
leaf, forget it,” Ms. Boucher said. “You would be taking a sweet
colonial community and wrecking it.” She said the Super 7 plan is
related to the Route 7/Merritt plan in that it would make commercial
property in that area even more valuable than it is now.
“Someone is making a lot of money at the expense
of four towns,” including Wilton and Ridgefield, she said. Ms.
Boucher will join state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and state Rep. Tom
O’Dea (R-125) at Wilton Library on Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
for a previously planned legislative forum. Registration by Feb. 23 is
highly recommended. Information: 203-762-3950 or wiltonlibrary.org.
SWRPA Report on Route 7 Corridor Assessment &
Although this was written in 2012, this report is relevant to the
improvement of traffic along this critical corridor. Routes 8 and
25 are both effective highways linking upstate CT with Fairfield County.
With a high concentration of business in southwestern Fairfield County,
Route 7 is equally as critical as widening route 84.
Malloy wants more
lanes on I-84 in Danbury
Stamford Advocate 1/12/15
DANBURY -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants the state to widen a five-mile
stretch of Interstate 84 between exits 3 and 8 in Danbury. The
project would not only reduce congestion in that stretch of road, he
said Thursday morning, but would also save millions daily in
congestion-related costs and help grow the economy in western
time to modernize that roadway," Malloy said during a news conference in
the rest area at Exit 2, providing a glimpse of the "comprehensive
transportation plan" he will spell out when he delivers his budget
address to the General Assembly next month. "It's not simply about
highways and bridges," he said. "It's also about increased bus service
in the Danbury region, and a more modern service. It's about additional
improvements to the Danbury (commuter) line and an extension of the
Danbury line beyond where it currently terminates. It is, as well, about
modernizing the roadway that's behind me."
visit comes just days after he announced an ambitious,
multibillion-dollar vision for transit improvements statewide. It also
follows last week's approval by the State Bond Commission of $5.75
million for design of new railroad stations on commuter lines and for
enhancements to the Merritt 7 stop on the Danbury branch of Metro-North.
Widening I-84 has been on the drawing board since the mid-2000s. Last
year the state dropped a decade-old plan to add a lane to the entire 30
miles of highway from the New York line to Waterbury because the
projected $4 billion cost was too high, but Malloy has since proposed
improving individual stretches in Danbury and Waterbury.
an unusual road in one state in that it connects three cities with a
population of 100,000 or more: Danbury to Waterbury to Hartford," he
said. "And yet, in major portions of that roadway, it narrows to two
lanes. ... It needs to be widened to three lanes in its entirety."
Asked whether tolls might be a possible funding choice for the plan, the
governor said he wasn't ready to discuss funding.
are many, many ways to pay for transportation improvements. Tolls are
one of them," he said. "But there are other ways to raise the capital
necessary. ... That's a different discussion. "We're not focused
on funding at the moment. We're focused on getting out the door what the
entire vision of a five-year ramp-up and a 25-year construction phase
will look like." James Redeker, commissioner of the state
Department of Transportation, said the plan is still being shaped and
may be tweaked before Malloy's presentation. "This part of the
state has needs identified for a long, long time and the plan that will
be put together will identify how we are going to approach that," he
I-84 corridor through the western part of the state handles more than
125,000 vehicles on an average weekday. Malloy said the average
driver in Connecticut spends an extra 42 hours away in traffic
congestions every year. As for the economy, it is the equivalent of $97
million in lost time and wasted fuel every day, he said.
in Connecticut have complained about transportation for a long, long
time," he said. "(This plan) will require a ramp-up of budgets
almost immediately to build a capacity within the Department of
Transportation to do the things we need to do."
email@example.com, 203-731-3411, @olivnelson
MALLOY LAUNCHES STRATEGIC TRANSPORTATION INITIATIVE
Transform CT Will Build A Prosperous, Sustainable, And Livable
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today that the
Department of Transportation (DOT) has launched a strategic planning
approach to transportation policies, programs, and projects. Transform
CT will improve economic growth and competitiveness, build
sustainability, and provide a blueprint for a world-class transportation
“Transportation is the backbone of our economy,” said Governor Malloy.
“The movement of people and goods, facilitating commerce, and bolstering
tourism all depend on a highly functioning transit and highway system.
Transform CT will help define the very future of Connecticut through a
stakeholder process that will solicit input from residents and
businesses about what works and what doesn’t in our multi-modal system.
The complexities in transportation are enormous, but this process will
help us plan for a more sustainable, more efficient future.”
Through a series of public meetings, focus groups, and surveys, DOT will
engage businesses, elected officials, transportation advocacy groups,
and other organizations and agencies as part of the Transform CT
“It is essential that we continue to improve transportation options and
service in Connecticut,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “This
is a strategic approach to connecting our cities and towns and, most
importantly, it gives the public a direct role in the process and the
product. Improving our transportation system also makes Connecticut a
more competitive, sustainable and livable state.”
As part of the public outreach campaign,
was launched today to offer residents a place to comment and share ideas
on the transportation issues facing Connecticut. Visitors can also sign
up to receive updates and public meeting schedules.
Public meetings are scheduled to begin this fall. The first report will
be released by February 2014.
10/19/12 Norwalk River Valley Trail takes big step forward –
By Meg Barone
A greenway corridor once reserved for proposed construction of a wide
roadway to provide speedier flow of motorized traffic between northern
and southern portions of Fairfield County is a step closer to its new
intended purpose as a leisurely recreational linear park for hikers,
bicyclists and even equestrians.
River Valley Trail Steering Committee unveiled
the results of a formal routing study this month for the proposed
38-mile multi-purpose trail that will go from Norwalk to Danbury
following, in part, the property reserved for the construction of the
proposed Super 7 roadway that never came to be. The route study,
conducted by Alta Planning + Design, a nationally prominent planning,
design and engineering firm, took 18 months to complete and paves the
way for the next phase of the ambitious project, which includes coming
up with the funds for trail construction.
David Park of Norwalk, a member of the 20-member steering committee
which has representatives from each of the involved communities, said
the trail will have greater significance beyond recreational purpose. He
said it will connect the communities' assets such as rail stations,
shopping centers and tourist attractions. Having the routing study in
hand is a big step forward and allows the project to move forward from
concept to reality, he said.
For Jim Carter of
Norwalk, also a member of the steering committee, the study is proof
that the project is "do-able" and will happen unlike some grand plans
that may sound feasible but never come to fruition.
moved from `hey, wouldn't it be neat to do this?' to `this is feasible
and here's how it would look,'" said Pat
chair of the steering committee who is employed by the town of Wilton.
"Having this routing study is like having a master plan," Park said.
"With the plan in place we are now in a better position to seek funding
through the municipalities and private and corporate grants," he said.
Such a plan must exist before any individual, corporation or government
agency would provide funding, he said.
Several sub-committees focus on all the aspects of getting the trail
constructed including fundraising. The effort also included the
formation of a 501c3 non-profit organization to take tax deductible
contributions called "Friends of the NRVT."
The study contains maps, basic trail characteristics, the priorities and
anticipated construction challenges. "Every section of the trail will
have challenges," Park said.
In some northern communities there may be issues related to private
property and rights of way. In Norwalk, Park foresees design issues
involving cross roads. "There is a challenge getting around the Merritt
Parkway and other roads. We have to do it in a safe manner," he said.
Some issues that other communities might face related to land use should
not be a problem for Norwalk, Carter said. "We don't have any of those
impediments created by usually troublesome right of ways or private
property," he said. The land for the proposed trail through Norwalk is
already in public hands. It is either owned or leased by utilities,
controlled by the city as parks or open space or owned by the state.
Additionally, Carter said, some of the prep work has already been done,
allowing the steering committee to dovetail on that work, which saves
money. As one example, he mentioned a CL&P maintenance road to service
its power lines, which will comprise part of the trail.
"In this world of limited and constrained budgets piggybacking on other
projects, like CL&P's access roads (saves funding)," Carter said.
The proposed 38-mile trail, including spurs and loops, is a
multi-purpose trail for non-motorized uses and will go from Calf Pasture
Beach in Norwalk to Danbury passing through Wilton, Ridgefield and
Redding. The study solicited comments from community members in each of
the five towns. Possible route options and key characteristics of the
trail were discussed in two rounds of public work sessions and are
reflected in the final recommendation.
The routing study includes pull-out sections for each of the five
municipalities along the route so that each one can seek funding for and
work on their portions separately. Norwalk and Wilton already have short
portions of their trails completed.
of Norwalk, through the Department
of Public Works,
took the lead on the NRVT several years ago, Park said. "We have an
existing section of trail that goes from the Maritime Aquarium north
through Mathews Park and up to Union Park, and we have a short section
of trail between New Canaan Avenue at the electric substation up to
Broad Street on CL&P property," Park said. The existing sections of
trail in Norwalk are over one mile long, he said.
The Norwalk Department of Public Works is working on a design to connect
those two sections of the NRVT. The design work is being done in house
but the city will be seeking a $2 million grant for the construction
phase, he said.
The characteristics of the trail will be different in various parts of
the route. Sesto said some sections of the trail would be wide, perhaps
eight to 12 feet wide. Some areas will comprise a paved, hard surface
while others will have a soft, crushed stone surface.
Norwalk's portion will consist largely of asphalt. Carter said the
seven-mile section from the Maritime Aquarium to Wilton
High School is
essentially flat. Portions north of that may have rougher terrain.
"It'll be a little bit harder (for those communities) but I think it
will happen. It's just more of a challenge," he said. It may also take
more time, more effort and more money, he said.
"We know we've got hurdles. We know there are details out there that
will adjust our vision," Sesto said. Overall though, "It's a great
vision but it's not set in stone."
was made possible by an $180,000 grant from the National Recreational
Trails Program administered by the Connecticut DEEP. More than 2,500
volunteer hours supported the study and no Norwalk tax dollars were
involved. In addition to Alta Planning + Design, the consultant team
also included Fitzgerald
and Stantec. The disciplines of all the firms complemented each other in
order to complete the routing study, Park said.
With the routing study completed, Park said the focus will now be on
acquiring the necessary funding to hire an engineer to create the
construction drawings and documents and putting the project out to bid.
information, visit www.nrvt-trail.com
Written by Chauncey O. Johnstone Wilton
30 August 2012
The recent series of articles in The Bulletin about Route
7 focus on the road’s past. The final installment fails to bring us up
to date on the current situation and the results we all live with 50
years after the original plans. Instead it brings out a lot of biases,
prognostications, hyperbole and theory by those people who are left in
town to talk about it. And, as usual, no real solutions are offered.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) is
responsible for overseeing the operation of all forms of transportation
in our state, ferry boats to airports. ConnDOT conducts surveys of every
state and interstate road in Connecticut on an ongoing basis. These
surveys are known as Average Daily Traffic (ADT). Wilton has a number of
state roads, 7, 33, 106 etc.
The Route 7 expressway terminates at Grist Mill Road in
Norwalk, which affects Wilton. That terminus has an ADT of 40,100
vehicles per day! The terminus where old Route 7, Main Avenue and Grist
Mill meet (at the MV Bureau) has an ADT of 28,200. The Wilton-Norwalk
line has an ADT of 32,700 and the merger of routes 33 and 7 shows an ADT
of 26,700. The confluence of routes 33, 106 (Wolfpit) and Sharp Hill is
28,800. Where Route 7 crosses the Wilton-Ridgefield town line, the ADT
Route 33, Ridgefield Road, has an ADT of 23,300 at the
junction with Route 7. The ADT at Route 33 and Belden Hill Road is
9,900; the ADT at Drum Hill is 7,200. The ADT at Nod Hill is 11,900, and
where Route 33 crosses the Ridgefield-Wilton town line the ADT is 5,200.
These are all just some examples; there are many more you can see
Wilton offers a number of town roads to drivers seeking a
way around Route 7, and from the numbers it appears they are using them.
If you walk, run, bike, get your mail, or exit your driveway you
probably know where those roads are. Those town roads were never
designed to handle the overflow traffic volume that the ConnDOT surveys
suggest. Safety is compromised as is air quality and noise. Increased
traffic destroys the roads, sight lines are compromised, and we pay for
maintenance with our public works budgets.
If you do use Route 7 you probably have come across the
problem of trying to exit a parking lot, getting stuck behind a turning
car, or just trying to cross the street. Route 7 also keeps changing
from three lanes to two lanes to four lanes, and one lane heading south
past Orem’s. It is over a quarter of a mile on Route 7 between traffic
lights from School Road to the YMCA, and even more from Grumman to the
33/7 interchange near Orem’s.
Connecticut has no money to build a “Super 7” now.
Recommendations have been made to improve the Danbury train line, and
extend it to New Milford. It is a good idea, but why then is I-95 so
crowded with a train line running parallel to it?
My mid-term solution is to extend the existing expressway
from Grist Mill to the intersection of routes 7 and 33, without
interchanges. The land is there to do that. This may entice some
companies to expand along Route 7 sections in Wilton, which would help
lower our tax burden. Our current zoning regulations can control how
things are done so we do not end up with a Route 1 situation. For
safety, install more traffic lights, but time them to allow for nonstop
movement and more appeal to drivers seeking to pass through, and
eventually four-lane the road up to Ridgefield.
Where Wilton is concerned, our town center continues to
undergo improvements and serves as our small town focal point. As far as
I know River, Horseshoe and Old Ridgefield roads are not used as
bypasses, so I doubt our in-town traffic would change. The remaining
Route 7 expressway land should not be sold. It should be open now for
public use, and kept in place for future generations who may see a need
for a “Super 7,” or a hybrid of it. Taxpayers paid for that land over 50
years ago expecting a road to be built. Residents sold their property
for the same reasons. Highway engineering has changed a lot in the past
50 years and undoubtedly will improve in the future. Wilton is not an
island, it is part of a region. When a river overflows its banks, it is
best to try and channel it before it floods everything.
I-95 widening to get
started in Norwalk
Stamford Advocate, 6/21/2012
shovels in hand near the southbound on-ramp near Exit 14, officials
broke ground Wednesday morning on a project to widen a stretch of
Interstate 95 that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called one of the state's worst
The three-year, $42.3 million project
will add a Route 7 connector exit lane to I-95 south that will extend
2,300 feet to Exit 14 at Connecticut Avenue. Malloy, Norwalk Mayor
Richard Moccia, state Sen. Bob Duff and state Rep. Larry Cafero, the
House Minority Leader, took part in a ground-breaking ceremony across
Connecticut Avenue from Swanky Frank's hot dog stand.
Malloy, an admitted fan of Swanky
Frank's, said watching exiting traffic back up onto the thruway as he
passes Exit 14 was "frightening." He added he is worried about state
liability in cases of serious accidents, because the road design
connecting Route 7 to I-95 has been causing traffic backups for so
long. Malloy said the improvements, which are to be finished in
February 2015, should have been done years ago.
Duff, the vice chairman of the General
Assembly's Transportation Committee, is described by Malloy as a
"tireless" and "dogged" advocate of the project. He said he was so
excited to bring news of the project's start that he woke up at 5:30
a.m. "I never wake up that early," he said. "It is like Christmas
Duff said alleviating the backup
caused by traffic entering I-95 from the connector and others moving
over to get off at Exit 14, "will be a huge quality-of-life improvement
for the whole community." Moccia said he could not think of any I-95
bottleneck worse than this one in Norwalk. "It's as bad a design as any
interstate that has been built," Moccia said before thanking Malloy for
his support of the project.
Under the plans, a second 2,100-foot
auxiliary lane will also be added to the interstate's northbound lanes
from the northbound Scribner Avenue entrance to Exit 15. The Exit 14
southbound ramp will be widened to three lanes, with three highway
overpass bridges replaced at Cedar Street and Taylor and Fairfield
avenues to accommodate the wider highway, the plans state.
The construction of new and wider
sidewalks along parts of Connecticut Avenue from Fairfield Avenue west
to Exit 14 are also planned. State Department of Transportation
officials say preliminary work has had minimal impacts to traffic and
construction requiring lane closures will begin immediately. No road
closures have been announced in connection with the project. The work is
being done by O&G Industries of Torrington.
begin to alleviate I-95, Route 7 bottleneck
Martin B. Cassidy Stamford Advocate
The state expects to finalize a $43.2
million contract this week to alleviate traffic on Interstate 95 in
Norwalk at the Route 7 interchange that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy once
called the worst traffic bottleneck in the state. Work on the project,
which is expected to be completed in late spring or early summer 2015 is
expected to break ground in June, Connecticut Department of
Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said.
Nursick said Torrington-based O&G
Industries' bid was unexpectedly low relative to the $93.1 million the
state estimated the project would cost, reflecting continued softness in
the construction market, Nursick said. "This is a trend we've seen
continue for awhile," Nursick said. "Perhaps the only upside of the down
economy is the competitive environment for state projects and we've seen
lower than expected bids for several recent projects."
The project will add a new southbound
lane connecting the Route 7 off-ramp at Exit 14 at Scribner Avenue in
Norwalk. A northbound lane will connect Scribner Avenue to the Exit 15
Route 7 on-ramp. The work will also widen the Exit 15 northbound exit
ramp to provide two left-turn lanes and one right-turn lane, according
to the plans.
The widening of the highway to improve
traffic flow will require the replacement of three overpass bridges on
Cedar Street, and Taylor and Fairfield avenues, which will require
considerable detours. Malloy pledged to find funding for the project in
2010 calling the stretch of I-95 the state's top bottleneck, which was
harming the economy. In December 2011, the State Bond Commission
approved $85.6 million to perform the upgrades.
The project had been originally
included in the DOT's 2010 capital budget, but money to begin it was not
appropriated. State Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, vice chairman of the
General Assembly's Transportation Committee and long-time proponent of
the upgrades praised Malloy and the state for finally funding a project
to improve capacity through the stretch. The sluggish flow of traffic
through the area has hurt businesses along Route 1 in Norwalk as well as
farther south in the I-95 corridor, Duff said.
"These are improvements which have
been needed for a long time and I know the governor is very excited to
see this moving forward," Duff said. Traffic between the two exits is
often bumper-to-bumper, from mid-afternoon into the evening. A report
earlier this fall by the South Western Regional Planning Agency measured
travel during the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. period between Exits 16 and 14
southbound at 20 mph.
Off the highway, sidewalks will also
be added along Route 1 from Exit 14 northward to near Clinton Avenue to
help businesses, according to the plans. In addition to improving
traffic flow, the work will also install a new drainage system starting
near Exit 14 that will collect water and pull it north to a 25-foot
retention basin to be built near Exit 16.
Traffic congestion choking
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer Stamford Advocate
September 7, 2011
A new report prepared by
the region's transportation planning agency assessing rush-hour backups
indicates that even in a sluggish economy, traffic has done little to
ease bottlenecks on the region's major state highways.
Average speeds and trip
time are the focus of the South Western Regional Planning Agency's 2011
Travel Time Monitoring Program, a semi-annual report identifying the
worst bottlenecks on Interstate 95, the Merritt Parkway and Route 7.
"It shows that congestion
continues to be a major quality-of-life issue," said William Palmquist,
the geographical information system analyst for SWRPA. To gather
data, employees of the agency drove cars carrying a geographic
positioning system during commuting trips from April through June,
traveling south from 7 to 9 a.m. and north from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The
devices collected information on speed, distance traveled and trip time.
commuters on Interstate 95 had an average travel speed of 33 mph, 2 mph
slower than recorded in 2009, according to the report.
Merritt Parkway commuters
during the same 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. period had an average travel speed of
37 mph compared with 34 mph in the 2009 version of the report.
During the morning rush
on Interstate 95 southbound, the Route 8 Interchange in Bridgeport
between exits 27 and 23 and the stretch from exits 16 to 14 in Norwalk
near the Route 7 connector were identified as especially backed up, with
travel speeds averaging less than 20 mph.
Travelers heading south
between exits 8 through 6 on I-95, through Stamford's central business
district, plodded at speeds of 30 mph or less, according to the report.
During the 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. period on Interstate 95,
bumper-to-bumper traffic was found to stretch from exits 3 and 4 in
eastern Greenwich through Stamford's central business district north to
the Route 7 interchange near exits 15 and 16, with speeds less than 20
mph between exits 9 and 14, according to the report.
On the Merritt Parkway
southbound during the morning rush, the stretch between exits 40 through
39 near the Route 7 northbound connector and exits 38 through 36 in New
Canaan also had travel speeds averaging less than 20 mph.
At night, the Merritt's average speed was 40 mph, with slower stretches
between exits 40-42 in Westport and between exits 47 and 53, according
to the report.
A roadway resurfacing
project on the Merritt Parkway between Fairfield and Trumbull may have
impacted trip times during the study, Palmquist said. "From year
to year you don't see a huge change in travel speeds, but seeing the
actual speed makes it more digestible for people," Palmquist said.
Car runs along a
19.6-mile stretch of Route 7 between Danbury and Norwalk during the
morning period recorded an average speed of 27 mph, 2 mph slower than in
2009, with an average trip length of more than 46 minutes.
Without increasing the region's network of alternate modes such as
railways and buses, the Department of Transportation expects congested
conditions to increase dramatically by 2030, Palmquist said.
"It demonstrates that
with increasing traffic volumes expected in the coming decades, some
kind of solutions are needed," Palmquist said. Plans to bid out a
$93 million project this year to widen Interstate 95 at the heavily
congested area between exits 14 and 15 to add speed change lanes should
improve traffic flow through Norwalk, state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk,
Duff said a fresh look at
a long-deferred project to build an expressway on Route 7 between I-84
in Danbury and I-95 in Norwalk is needed to ease congestion and
revitalize the economy in the region. "Quality of life and
economic livelihood could be improved by moving forward on Super 7 and
continuing to discuss how best to approach that with our new governor,"
said Duff, who serves as vice-chairman of the General Assembly's
transportation committee. "It doesn't only impact Norwalk but everyone
else living along the line too."
The report also noted
that rush hour traffic flagged at a traffic counting station on
Interstate 95 near Exit 14 showed a 7 percent growth in overall trips
from 2007 to 2011, despite the average total number of trips falling by
about 5 percent during the same four-year span. Palmquist said
this would strongly indicate motorists have scaled back on their mid-day
non-peak automobile travel.
"It would appear that
people would travel at peak times when they have to, but fuel costs and
the slow economy may have curbed discretionary trips for shopping and
other reasons," Palmquist said.
Developer hoping to buy state land earmarked for Super 7 in Danbury
Danbury News Times Dirk Perrefort, Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
DANBURY -- A Trumbull development company is
trying to buy land along Sugar Hollow Road that the state purchased two
decades ago for $1 for a Super 7 expressway. A Trumbull state
representative has introduced legislation to the General
Assembly to allow the sale. But some members of the
Danbury delegation are wary because Sugar Hollow Builders LLC has not
disclosed plans for the 2.4-acre property it hopes to purchase at fair
The company already owns a 1-acre parcel that
abuts the state land and Route 7 near the intersection with West Starrs
Plain Road, close to the Ridgefield border. State Rep. T.R.
Rowe, R-Trumbull, said he submitted the conveyance request to the
General Assembly on behalf of a constituent who is a principal with the
development company. He said the principal, Ron
Farrell, owned the parcel before the state acquired the property
through eminent domain in 1991. Now he wants it back.
"The state doesn't need the property anymore and
it seems reasonable that he should get his property back," Rowe told The
News-Times. The state Department
of Transportation purchased the property 20 years ago for $1,
according to local property records, along with 1,000 acres with the
intent of developing a superhighway connecting Danbury and Norwalk.
The state still owns about 300 acres in Danbury that had been purchased
for the proposed highway. Support for the expressway waned and the plans
State Rep. Robert
Godfrey, D- Danbury, said a similar proposal to sell the property in
question last year caught his eye. State officials killed the deal
because, according to Godfrey, nobody knows what the company wants to
develop on the property. "It's very suspicious to me because the
people interested in the property have not been forthcoming with any
information," he said. "Why this guy is pushing so hard and why these
legislators are being so cooperative I just don't know."
The lawmaker added that he, along with former
state Sen. David
Cappiello, R-Danbury, and former state Rep. Christopher
Scalzo, R-Ridgefield, were instrumental in creating a state law in
1994 stipulating that none of the property purchased for the expressway
could be sold. "My first choice would be build the highway, but
that's not going to happen anytime soon, so I would rather see the
property remain undeveloped," Godfrey said.
About two years ago, Godfrey said, state Sen. Toni
Boucher, R-Wilton, was successful in repealing the law prohibiting
the land's sale. "She secretly had it repealed and we didn't find
out about it until it was too late," he said. In her own defense,
Boucher said nothing was "snuck in." "It was carefully compromised
language and was discussed for quite a while, and the subject of public
hearings," she said. Boucher said the DOT has been very careful
about which properties have been sold to ensure it doesn't impede plans
for the highway.
"The DOT still has an interest in making sure land
is available for that purpose," she said. Selling some of the
properties, she added, also brings in revenue at a time when it's
desperately needed. "Who wants to stand in the way of the state
from getting more revenue and creating more jobs," Boucher said, adding
that she has no knowledge of the proposed land deal in Danbury.
Farrell could not be reached for comment, despite
Joseph Seaman, of Wilton, whose company J&J
Construction is one of the principals with the development company
according to state records, also was unavailable for comment despite
Perrefort at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 203-731-3358.
By Martin Cassidy
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With no clear consensus to
build a four-lane Route 7 expressway between Norwalk and Danbury and
with other big projects grounded during the state's budget crisis, local
planners limited an ongoing study of transit and land-use issues to
target its influence toward more modest but still worthy improvements,
the head of the region's municipal planning agency said Tuesday.
Floyd Lapp, executive
director of the South
Western Regional Planning Agency sent
state Sen. Bob
Duff, D-Norwalk, vice chairman of the
Legislature's transportation committee, a response letter after Duff
questioned why the study neither endorsed nor analyzed the merits of the
long-delayed project that would link Interstate 84 in Danbury to
Interstate 95 in Norwalk, a project first proposed in the 1950s.
"It has been in a stalled
position for years, and it is basically an option that does not exist at
the current time," Lapp said of the expressway. "We can't just start
spending money on Super 7, because it has not been studied for years."
Lapp said he shared
Duff's frustrations about the stateDepartment
of Transportation last year postponing
a separate project SWRPA has endorsed to spend $136 million to $156
million to build an interchange between the Merritt Parkway and Route 7
in Norwalk, justifying the cancellation because it lacked money for an
The project, initially begun
in 2006, was blocked for nearly four years after a nonprofit Merritt
Parkway Conservancy forced major aspects of the project to be
redesigned, an obstacle that could re-emerge whenever the project is
close to beginning again, Lapp said.
"We were disappointed when
the DOT unilaterally decided to delay the project because of a lack of
money for a study," Lapp said. "When the DOT starts up the engine again,
either of their own accord, or because of our agitation, there is no
guarantee there won't be a new group that objects to it."
Duff said he acknowledges
the lengthy process of grooming the expressway concept into a project
might be daunting, but repeated his criticism that the agency's study
averted a discussion of the expressway concept because of the likely
backlash from opponents who have traffic and environmental concerns
about the roadwork.
Lapp's response, but my position is
still the same," Duff said. "I think SWRPA should be more of an advocate
of what is in the best interest of the regional economy than placating
Lapp said a decision
to back or oppose the expressway project would come only after consensus
is reached by the eight chief elected officials of the member
municipalities that are part of theSouth
Western Metropolitan Planning Organization to
approve the expressway concept.
Lapp said the lack of
consideration of the expressway and the interchange were based on the
likelihood the projects will remain dormant for the foreseeable future.
"If there is agreement in
the MPO, we will add it to our improvement plan and seek funding," Lapp
said. "The interchange is one of our highest priorities, and we support
it too. It was a good project, and it was deleted by the DOT."
State Sen. Toni
Boucher, R-Wilton, an opponent of the
expressway concept, said any effort to revive it would be prohibitively
expensive under the state's budget crisis and face widespread opposition
from Wilton and Ridgefield residents and leaders.
"We have a $3.5 billion
budget deficit in the coming year, and the discussion of any issue in
coming years is going to be colored and influenced by that," Boucher
said. "Hartford has not kept its financial house in order for years, and
we have to handle that first."
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
State Sen. Bob
Duff, D-Norwalk, has asked the region's municipal planning agency to
use an ongoing Route 7 corridor study to push for design and
construction of a long-delayed four-lane throughway along the route and
an interchange between the Merritt Parkway and Route 7 to improve
In a letter to South
Western Regional Planning AgencyExecutive Director Floyd
Lapp, Duff, vice chairman of the state legislature transportation
committee, wrote that an ongoing $375,000 study by the agency should
support allocating limited funding toward those two projects before
advocating other measures, such as further widening of parts of Route 7
and intersection improvements.
Duff said he supports the study's premise of
improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility, but that the throughway
linking Interstate 95 in Norwalk to Interstate 84 in Danbury is needed
to preserve the region's economy, with other improvements incorporated
"I've said this very consistently that we should
go toward building an expressway and get the interchange done," Duff
said Thursday. "The study continues to justify widening over what is
probably the better option which is throughway, which would incorporate
the other modes of transportation."
Lapp could not be reached for comment, but Craig
Lader, a senior transportation planner for SWRPA who is overseeing
the study, said the agency did not include the Route 7 expressway
concept because it wanted to limit its focus to a range of improvements
that could be accommodated within the current configuration of Route 7.
The study only endorses a limited amount of
widening, Lader said, including a section of Route 7 near Route 33, and
focuses more attention on intersection improvements, improving rail
stations, and other roadway redesign work to improve conditions for
walkers and bicyclists.
"By no means are we trying to put one project
above the other, but we're more interested in the existing Route 7
corridor and trying to do responsible planning by looking at the gaps in
needs to develop a plan to address problems in that corridor," Lader
said. "We want a plan that works regardless of whether the throughway
happens or not."
Last year the state Department
of Transportation delayed the scheduled 2012
construction start of the Merritt
Parkway/Route 7 interchange because it lacked the
necessary funding to conduct an environmental impact
study and other necessary advance work for the $136
That project had been delayed in
2006 after the Merritt Parkway Conservancy successfully
sued to halt work, arguing the work violated
preservation laws by demolishing the Main Avenue bridge
and making landscaping changes to the
Previous efforts to build a Route
7 expressway, first proposed in the 1950s, have faltered
because of opposition campaigns from state legislators,
local leaders, and residents who raised concerns about
traffic and environmental impacts of the road.
Last year Duff used a grant for a
of Connecticut Stamford poll which indicated that
only 6 percent of residents opposed the expressway, and
that residents of Danbury, Norwalk, and Darien supported
"My feeling is that the expressway
is inevitable," Duff said. "A lot of legislators and
officials talk about job growth and they need to put
their money where their mouth is."
New Canaan First Selectman Jeb
Walker, chairman of the South
Western Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization,
the transportation policy planning agency for eight
southwestern Connecticut municipalities, including
Stamford, Norwalk, Wilton, Darien, and New Canaan, said
the expressway concept has several drawbacks, including
significant opposition and a financially
"The efforts of Wilton with the
state to widen parts of Route 7 are more than
sufficient," Walker said. "I respect the wishes of the
Wilton town government because that's the part of the
region that will be most affected and they are not
Walker said the Merritt
Parkway/Route 7 interchange should be completed in the
future, but doubted the state's wherewithal to finish
the project because of funding problems and the state's
"The state doesn't have the money
for these types of dream projects," he said.
takes center stage at forum
By Chris Bosak
Norwalk Hour March 19, 2010
top of page
Can we keep Fairfield County moving? That
was the question posed by the League of Women Voters of Connecticut to a
panel of transportation and business experts at Thursday night's
Transportation Forum at Norwalk Community College.
The answer often boiled down to three suggestions: preservation of our
existing infrastructure, congestion pricing, and building transit- and
pedestrian-friendly communities. Even that might not be enough, however,
as the state's transportation budget falls far short of what is needed,
according to the panelists.
"I'm happy spring is here," Floyd Lapp, executive director of the South
Western Regional Planning Agency, said, "but the bloom is off the
Christopher Bruhl, president and CEO of The Business Council of
Fairfield County, said selecting the right governor this November will
go a long way toward solving the transportation problems of Fairfield
County and the state. He said the General Assembly is "even more
dysfunctional now than before" because of the state's huge deficit and
the solutions talked about at the forum "are not going to be addressed,"
in the near future.
"For now we just let Department of Transportation officials do the best
with what they have to work with right now," he said. "We need to make
the candidates for governor aware that transportation is not a
Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(TSTC), said the state needs to follow a "fix-it-first" strategy of
maintaining and preserving our current roads and bridges. Widening roads
and building new roads does not solve congestion problems in the long
run, she said.
"There are no new highway projects on the books," she said. "We think
Slevin pushed for more bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure as
She suggested tolls, pricing to reduce congestion and "other creative"
solutions to funding the projects. TSTC is a nonprofit organization
focusing on transportation issues in Connecticut, downstate New York and
Jeffrey Parker of Connecticut Department of Transportation said only six
percent of the $787 billion federal stimulus package went to improving
transportation. Connecticut, he said, received $300 million for roads
and bridges, and $157 million for transit improvements. ConnDOT is
focusing heavily on preservation, Parker said, including projects on the
Merritt Parkway and repairing a bridge in Branford.
"Connecticut had large infrastructure projects that needed to be done,"
he said. "We're off and running."
One important transit project, he said, is the signalization of the
Danbury branch. He also said the new M8 rail cars should be tested this
summer and in service by the fall.
Lapp said the United States underfunds transportation by about 40
percent and the stimulus package did not put nearly enough focus on
He continued his fight for congestion pricing and stressed that a study
ought to be continued to determine its feasibility. A $1 million study
that had been conducted only concluded that another study should be
done. Half a million dollars has been allocated for that second study,
but it hasn't been conducted yet.
"Let's really make it happen," he said. "We cut off the follow up."
Congestion pricing, he said, would add revenue to the state, increase
the flow of traffic, encourage transit and clean the air -- "all things
that we want to see," Lapp said.
Bruhl supports a significant increase in the gas tax, but added that:
"Any solution has to be sustainable. We need to look beyond this
recession. It also won't help to use the wrong forecast like we did 30
years when we missed the phenomena of women going to work."
Bruhl said it is important not to overlook the aging population and
immigrants when planning the future of transportation.
Route 7 study group focuses on transportation, land-use patterns
Kara O'connor, Hour Staff Writer
Norwalk Hour March 2, 2010
top of page
Making changes so the community gets what it wants is the main goal and
purpose of the Rt. 7 transportation and study group, according to Susan
VanBenschoten, Consultant Project Manager of the study group and chief
operating adviser for Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc.
“This study group is about studying
the existing transportation and land-use patterns of Rt. 7 and how to
enhance them,” said VanBenschoten. “Improving the quality of life
around the corridor and developing a proactive plan is something we plan
The Rt. 7 transportation and study
group, sponsored by The South Western Regional Planning Association (SWRPA)
and Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO ) was first
initiated in July 2009. According to Craig Lader, project manager of
the study group and Senior Transportation Planner of SWRPA, the study
group was implemented to deal with the issues that affect the lives of
nearby residents and other users of the roadway.
“The study group will evaluate current
transportation and land use conditions and investigate opportunities to
make improvements by looking at the existing road structure,” said Lader.
“It’s an opportunity to improve safety and land use on Rt. 7. It’s
The study group focused on
transportation, land use, safety and market patterns along Rt. 7 from
Grist Mill Rd. on the Norwalk/Wilton border to Merribrook Rd. near
Danbury, said VanBenschoten.
According to VanBenschoten one of the
main topics that the study group focused on was transit-oriented
development, which is a plan to develop compact, mixed-use,
pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods surrounding a transit center or hub
such as a train station or bus/intermodal center. VanBenschoten said
that there were four areas around Rt. 7 that had opportunities for
transit-oriented development: I-Park, which is located on the
Norwalk/Wilton border; Wilton center, Georgetown and Branchville.
“We want people to drive along Rt. 7
and feel they are coming into a great place,” said VanBenschoten.
“These four places are definitely an opportunity for us to expand on
According to New Milford resident Beth
Mortgan, she doesn’t agree that there should be a study group on the Rt.
“I know people that avoid Rt. 7 at all
costs, taking back roads, highways, anything and that isn’t going to
change,” said Morgan. “I think that this study is a waste of time and
Wilton resident and Sierra Club CT
chapter member Patrice Gillespie said she thinks it is wonder that a
study group is looking at the patterns along Rt. 7.
“I think this is a great idea,” said
Gillespie. “My only concern is that the study group should look a
little more into Rt. 7’s history, I think a lot of people think that is
a very important part of Rt. 7.”
SWRPA seeks public
input on Route 7 woes
By Martin B Cassidy, Staff Writer
Advocate, February 22, 2010
top of page
In the future, transit-oriented development could allow residents along
Route 7 to walk safely to revamped Danbury line train stations or take
advantage of more frequent bus service, while widening the state road
could make travel less burdensome in the economically important
corridor, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.
Zoning regulations will need to be changed in some areas along the
four-lane road if towns hope to see the type of residential developments
that could reduce automobile traffic near train stations, Marconi said.
"We need to do a corridor study to figure out how we can get the most
out of the potential of Route 7," Marconi said. "There has been a lot of
discussion about it, but we need to do an assessment of the use along
Residents from Norwalk to Danbury will have a chance to offer their
views about traffic in the Route 7 corridor this week when the
Southwestern Regional Planning Agency and the Housatonic Valley Council
of Elected Officials host a public information meeting on the Route 7
Transportation and Land Use Study.
The $375,000 study, to be conducted by the engineering firm Fitzgerald &
Halliday, will analyze traffic on Route 7 and how to manage future land
use to encourage safer traffic flow and increased use of buses and the
Danbury Branch of the Metro-North Railroad.
The meeting will be held Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m at Wilton High
School, 395 Danbury Road, Wilton.
The study will not evaluate whether the state should pursue building
Super 7, a decades-old concept of building a four-lane expressway
between Norwalk and Danbury, and instead focuses on the potential of the
existing transportation system to keep up with demand, SWRPA Senior
Transportation Coordinator Sue Prosi said.
The study also will use traffic accident data to evaluate where
improvements such as curb cuts, widening the roadway or adding sidewalks
could improve safety, Prosi said.
"It will look at improvements at specific intersections and make
recommendations for what measures can address the conditions there,"
PUBLIC INFORMATION MEETING
MARCH 1, 2010
Wilton High School Cafeteria
395 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Informal Open House: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Presentation 7:00 pm
top of page
The South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) along with the
Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO) is conducting a
transportation and land use study of Route 7 between Norwalk and
Danbury. Route 7 is a critical transportation connection for life in
southwestern Connecticut. This segment of Route 7 has been studied for
years and some portions have been rebuilt over the decades in order to
improve travel. Likewise, commuter rail on the Danbury Branch is
currently being studied to determine the best way to improve rail
service in the corridor.
Still, there are gaps in the transportation system both on the roadway
itself and with options to better connect to the public transportation
system that serves the corridor.
This study will look for ways to improve and interconnect the various
components of the transportation system; the roadway, commuter rail, bus
travel, walking, and biking. The study will also evaluate how land is
currently used in the corridor and how it could be used in the future to
work with the transportation system serving it.
The study will focus on Route 7 within Danbury, Ridgefield, Redding, and
Wilton. The study will not evaluate the need for an expressway from
Danbury to Norwalk, but will instead investigate ways to maximize the
efficiency and safety of all modes of the existing transportation
The first of three public information meetings is being held to present
and discuss the study scope, status, the vision for the corridor, and to
review existing transportation and land use conditions.
Area residents, business owners, commuters, and all interested
stakeholders are encouraged to attend this meeting to share your views
about issues and opportunities for improvement in the Route 7 corridor.
For study and meeting information, please visit www.route7study.org or
South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA)
Craig Lader (Study Project Manager)
Snow Date: In the event of inclement weather, the meeting will be held
at the same location and time on Monday, March 1, 2010
expressway unrealistic, leaders say
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer, Advocate
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WILTON -- State Sen. Toni Boucher and other leaders rallied Tuesday to
take aim at the decades-old concept of a superhighway between Norwalk
and Danbury and berate recent efforts to present the project as a viable
solution to congestion in the corridor. Tuesday morning at Wilton
Town Hall, Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan said a recent public
campaign by state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, to revive the long-rejected
concept of a four-lane expressway linking Interstate 95 in Norwalk to
I-84 in Danbury as misguided and economically destructive.
"I urge Senator Duff to use his passion for roads and spending to fix
I-95 first," Brennan said. "...For almost 40 years this road has been
discussed, but never constructed. Why? The people most strongly impacted
by it are opposed to it." On Tuesday morning, Boucher, a
Republican legislator from Wilton was joined by Brennan, Ridgefield
First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and state Reps. John Hetherington, R-New
Canaan, and Peggy Reeves, D-Norwalk to promise staunch legal and
community opposition to squelch consideration of the long-delayed
For now, the state must focus on its investments to widen Route 7 and a
$35 million project to upgrade signals on the Danbury to Norwalk rail
line, officials said. "This road would never come into being for
at least a generation and the benefits would never be felt by anyone
here during their working life," Hetherington said. "But unfortunately
the pain would start right away."
During the 2009
legislative session, Boucher successfully sponsored legislation to lift
a previous bar on selling hundreds of acres of land being held by the
state for possible construction of the highway. In July,
Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie wrote Gov. M. Jodi Rell to tout
the benefits of selling off some of the land to raise revenue for the
state and free transportation workers from the obligation of caring for
The Department of Transportation controls more than 890 acres of vacant
land along the right-of-way for the Route 7 expressway, with an
estimated value of $80 million to $150 million, according to the DOT.
Boucher also said that a state-funded poll conducted by the University
of Connecticut done at the request of Duff was also inaccurate and used
methods that could lead to a biased result.
The poll indicated that more residents between Norwalk and Danbury
support the idea of the highway than oppose it. Yesterday Duff
defended the survey of 483 residents as statistically valid. Duff
maintained that the officials are part of a minority group that has thus
far successfully blocked the highway project which is vital for the
Duff said even with rail-line improvements and the current widening;
without the highway the corridor will be dead economically if it can't
handle traffic smoothly. "It is imperative to get the road built
for our economic success," Duff said. "This isn't an either or, but for
the residents of the affected towns it would be much better to get the
through traffic onto a highway and let the regular Route 7 become a
Leaders ponder in-depth Route 7 traffic study, transit funding requests
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer, Advocate
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State leaders should not rule out the long-debated concept of an
expressway linking Norwalk to Danbury without a long-range blueprint for
how to relieve congestion along Route 7, Weston First Selectman Woody
Bliss and the leaders of seven other Fairfield County municipalities
will vote Thursday on whether to back completion of a study to identify
whether the expressway, or improved rail or bus lines, would improve the
flow of traffic along the route.
The South Western Regional Municipal Planning Organization meets at 8:15
a.m. Thursday at the Norwalk Transit District, 125 Wilson Ave.
Bliss, the group's chairman, said area leaders are concerned the
long-stalled expressway project might be permanently scuttled if the
state acts on 2008 legislation allowing it to sell off land acquired to
build it in order to now raise revenue for other state expenses.
Since the 1970s, leaders and residents from Ridgefield , Wilton , and
Redding have successfully rallied opposition to table the expressway
Leaders call for Route
7 transit study
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer, Advocate
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The elected leaders of eight lower Fairfield County municipalities gave
unanimous support Thursday to a fuller study of an unfinished expressway
and other possible projects to make travel easier along the bustling
Route 7 corridor.
The vote prompted an
exchange of views among leaders about their support or staunch
opposition to the decades-old concept of a "Super 7" four-lane highway
and whether the long-delayed idea had any merit. "No city has been
affected more by not having a Route 7 expressway than our town," said
Norwalk Mayor Dick Moccia, who favors the project. "I think we need a
statement to keep all the options open."
The project, first
proposed in the 1950s, would create a four-lane highway from Interstate
95 in Norwalk to Interstate 84 in Danbury . The initial portion of the
road was completed from Interstate 95 in Norwalk to near the Wilton town
line. Opposition from environmentalists and nearby residents has stalled
the remainder of the expressway, according to local officials. A
list of prioritized projects, whether it included the Super 7 expressway
or not, should be compiled before ruling the road out, Weston First
Selectman Woody Bliss, chairman of the group said.
"The point is to look at
the infrastructure system and not just Super 7 but the future economic
development of this region and enabling workers to get from where they
live to where they work," he said. The resolution did not
specifically ask that the state efrain from selling 14 state-owned homes
and other property in the proposed path of highway. In July, in a letter
to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, state Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie
touted the benefits of selling off the state-owned homes in the proposed
expressway path, in response to Rell's request from state department
heads for lists of saleable properties to raise revenue during the state
The Department of
Transportation controls more than 890 acres of vacant land along the
right-of-way for the Route 7 expressway, with an estimated value of $80
million to $150 million, according to the DOT. Any sale of the
land reserved for Super 7 had been barred until passage last year of a
law sponsored by state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a staunch opponent
of the project.
At Thursday's meeting,
state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, presented the results of a recently
conducted UConn-Stamford survey that says more residents support Super 7
than oppose it. The survey included 486 responses, including 164
respondents in Norwalk and 100 in Danbury , several times the number of
responses for towns like Wilton , Redding and Ridgefield , which showed
lower support for the road, according to the survey.
bafflement at Duff's effort to spur debate about the expressway and also
the survey results. "Quite frankly there were practical reasons it
wasn't supported throughout the region," Boucher said of Super 7.
Aside from environmental and economic concerns, Wilton First Selectman
Bill Brennan told members that completion of the Super 7 project, which
is estimated to cost billions, should be permanently shelved, if only
because of state and national budget deficits.
"We should be listening
to the people in this country and this state," Brennan said. "They want
government spending reduced and are alarmed over the future consequences
of runaway national and state debt that will eventually require higher
taxes." Three residents at the meeting spoke in favor of the Super
7 project eventually being completed. "With population growth in this
country, the Route 7 Expressway is something that should eventually be
done," Melvin Moore of Darien said. Last week, members of the
Southwestern Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization met with Marie
to discuss the state's long-range plans for Route 7, and ask that design
and other groundwork for another project, the Route 7/Merritt Parkway
interchange, be prioritized, Bliss said. That project is estimated to
cost $156 million.
Marie said last week that
he was happy to meet with officials about transportation priorities, but
that only a limited number of larger-scale construction projects could
be funded, given maintenance needs and funding constraints. "The
reality is that there are considerably greater needs than available
resources, and we must make sure we are addressing preservation
challenges first," he said. "In other words, we must ask ourselves if it
makes sense to remodel our kitchen when the roof is leaking."
UConn Stamford poll indicates support for Super 7 expressway
By Martin B. Cassidy, Advocate
top of page
More area residents support plans for the Super 7 expressway between
Norwalk and Danbury than oppose it, according to a new survey, state
Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said Wednesday, evidence he hopes can help
overcome long odds of resurrecting the decades-old project.
Duff, a long-time supporter of the project, said the $10,000 survey of
residents from 11 area municipalities should help reveal that a small,
organized minority of environmentalists and residents of smaller towns
like Ridgefield and Wilton have halted the project by creating a false
impression they were in the majority.
The poll, conducted by the University of Connecticut Stamford, was paid
for using a grant Duff requested from the state budget office to
research “residents' opinions" about completing the road.
"For 30 years we've heard that there isn't support for Super 7 but this
debunks that myth," Duff said of the survey. "This shows there is a
tremendous amount of support and people want this highway built."
The state Department of Transportation has begun to consider selling off
890 acres set aside along the route to complete the project, and DOT
Commissioner Joseph Marie has expressed strong doubts about the project
Overall 53 percent of 486 respondents support the highway idea, while
only six percent of those surveyed opposed the project, according to the
Clear support for the project was strongest in Danbury, where 65 of 100
respondents backed the project, followed by Norwalk where 89 of 164
respondents, or 53 percent, favored the expressway. Less than 5 percent
of residents in both Danbury and Norwalk opposed the project, with the
remaining chunks falling into the neutral or unsure categories.
Opposition was strongest in Ridgefield, where 6 of 32 respondents, or
18.8 percent, opposed the project, and in Wilton, where 14 out of 32, or
16 percent, opposed it. By contrast 47 percent of Ridgefield residents
supported the work, along with 44 percent in Wilton, according to the
The study was conducted using a "snowball" sampling technique, in which
target members of the community are asked to help survey takers identify
other targeted respondents to answer the questions. Initially, only 23
of 500 recipients who were contacted for the survey responded, according
to the results. Residents of the municipalities surveyed, which included
New Canaan, Redding, Wilton, Westport, Darien, and Bethel, were asked to
rate their familiarity with Route 7, how much they use it, their
familiarity with the Super 7 expressway concept and if the highway was
important to them.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, an opponent of the Super 7 expressway
project, questioned the survey results, saying it was counter to what
she knew about public sentiment among her Wilton and Ridgefield
Michael Ego, assistant vice provost of UConn Stamford, who oversaw the
study, said it was statistically reliable, and that the snowball
sampling method is a valid and accurate way to get a picture of
"The $10,000 grant provided to us enabled us to conduct a formal social
science research study that we believe is valid and reliable to gather
residents' perceptions of a proposed extension of the Super 7 route,"
Ego said. "We showed no bias towards the outcome of the study and chose
this methodology to gather the data."
During the past legislative session, Boucher successfully introduced the
legislation setting aside the prohibition on selling the 890 acres it
had acquired along the corridor to serve as a right-of-way for the
eventual completion of the Super 7 expressway.
"I find it inconsistent with what I know about my constituents in my
district," Boucher said of the survey results. "The leaders in the
affected towns could spend $10,000 and get very different results and
every hearing that we had on this issue drew 500 or 600 people against
it, and maybe 10 in favor."
Boucher emphasized that in the late 1990s, when the legislature last
formally debated the Super 7 project, leaders agreed to widen Route 7
between Wilton and Danbury as a compromise between with the more
extensive expressway project and the environmental and traffic concerns
"The state has focused its efforts on widening the existing roadway from
Danbury to Wilton and on improving mass transit and other multi-modal
forms of transport," Boucher said. "The Super 7 bill has never garnered
enough support because it isn't very realistic."
On Wednesday, Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, chairman of the South
West Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, and others appeared
with Duff to tout the results of the survey.
Bliss said that leaders in southern Fairfield County towns support the
expressway project to help speed travel between Danbury and Norwalk,
which will make it easier to work and travel over longer distances.
"I think our position has been consistently in favor of this link
between Danbury and Norwalk," Bliss said. "This survey is tremendous
confirmation that people see why this is needed."
State Rep. Christopher Perone, D-Norwalk, said that he thought it was
odd that some Wilton and Ridgefield residents opposed construction of
Super 7 based on traffic concerns, given that many think the larger road
would help alleviate what he called a growing problem with traffic
cutting through residential neighborhoods.
"By not doing anything, we're not improving the situation, we're
compounding it," Perone said.
Considers Selling Route 7 property
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By Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer Advocate
Want to buy a home along a never-built expressway? The state
Department of Transportation has outlined to the governor the benefits
of selling off 14 residences purchased years ago by the state for the
expansion of the old Route 7 connecting Norwalk and Danbury.
On July 14 Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell wrote her commissioners and
agency heads asking they provide her with lists of saleable assets to
help raise revenue during the budget crisis. Those lists were due
July 27 but her office last week was not releasing the details, saying
it was still awaiting information.
But the DOT, at The Advocate's request, supplied a copy of a letter
Commissioner Joseph Marie sent to Rell outlining properties identified
by his department. Marie said the DOT's Excess Property Inventory
Unit identified 2,840 potential parcels divided among 87 municipalities
"The majority of the parcels identified are uneconomic remnants that
remain form properties acquired for transportation projects and only
have value to an abutting property owner," Marie wrote.
But Marie said the state has valuable land holdings for two dormant
express way projects --Route 6, which was intended to proved quicker
passage through Andover, Bolton and Coventry, and Route 7.
In total the DOT controls more than 890 acres of vacant land in the
Route 7 expressway or Super 7 right of way totaling an estimated $80
million to $150 million, Marie wrote Rell. The General Assembly in
1993 amended state statutes specifically restricting the sale of any
Route 7 properties. But that requirement was lifted during the recently
concluded legislative session with the help of Sen. Toni Boucher,
Marie did not specifically advise selling the vacant land. But he told
Rell 14 improved parcels -- properties with homes in Wilton, Ridgefield,
Redding and Danbury -- have proven "a liability to the department" and
are valued at $6.6 million.
The state acquired the Super 7 properties decades ago to build a four-
to six-lane expressway from Norwalk to Danbury. Long-standing opposition
from environmentalists and smaller towns along the route has all but
killed prospects for Super 7's completion, and the DOT is widening the
existing Route 7.
Over the years the DOT has rented the 14 homes to tenants, resulting in
a modest income.
According to DOT data the monthly rent ranges from around $1,158 for
ranch at 29 Fire Hill Road in Ridgefield, built in 1950, to $3,000 for
the colonial at 11 West Stars Plain Rd. in Danbury, built pre-1967.
But Marie told Rell the lengthy amount of time it takes the state to
generate lease agreements and obtain tenants can result in vacancies
which leads to vagrancy and vandalism.
He also said the Route 7 expressway is not included in any of the DOT's
major initiatives planned through 2025 and were it to proceed, the
environmental permitting process might very well require a change in the
"The release of these 14 properties does not further jeopardize the
future of a Route 7 Expressway as state ownership is incomplete and the
location of the corridor has not been finalized," Marie wrote. "However
it would relieve the state of continual maintenance and liability and
allow department personnel, which have been significantly reduced due to
the retirement incentive plan, to focus on primary responsibilities that
support active transportation projects."
Keep the 'Super 7' option open
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Despite current fiscal
pressures, the state should not be panicked into a fire sale,
particularly with almost 900 acres of land that were purchased for the
so-called Super 7 highway that has remained uncompleted for decades.
Connecticut officials need to take the long view and do what's best for
state residents and businesses.
State Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton has proposed legislation to either
sell the property or designate it as open space. She says the state
could sure use the money from the sale. But as a practical matter, it's
currently a tough market for selling property. It was valued at almost
$150 million in 2007, but it seems doubtful that the state would realize
that amount now.
Beyond that, we concur with state Sen. Bob Duff of Norwalk and other
officials and area residents who have not given up on the idea of the
highway. Given past opposition and monetary concerns, it may be hard to
envision such a link between Interstates 95 and 84. And with the state
focusing on mass transit to help address chronic traffic congestion,
it's easy to dismiss the idea.
But Connecticut needs both roads and mass transit. And the traffic
situation is not likely to improve given the current level of
development and the expectation of more in the future. Economically,
businesses and employees will continue to suffer because of problems
with commuting and shipping. Further, air quality will continue to
suffer with the emissions from congested traffic.
The state should not eliminate options for this land. If traffic
continues to be problems for economic growth and quality of life, and
perhaps worsen, opinions may well change.
Super 7's Cost,
Letter to Editor, Advocate
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Yesterday's headline in
The Advocate ("Rell lowers the hammer") is a sobering reminder of
Connecticut's precarious economic condition and a situation that should
be of deep concern to all our citizens. Apparently the news hasn't
gotten through to at least one citizen, as evidenced by his rambling
rant about the selfish citizens who are blocking completion of Super 7
("Highway needs," Letters from readers).
So where is the state of
CT going to come up with the estimated $1.4 billion to complete
I have a great idea, one
that should resonate with the letter writer who hails from Greenwich.
The state can simply impose a "windfall profits tax" on the financial
sector geniuses who live in Greenwich, and who have enriched themselves
over the past five to 10 years with shamelessly high salaries and
bonuses (and contributed mightily to the hard times we are now in).
Surely these Masters of
the universe can spare a measly $1.4 billion of their plunder to have an
easy access as possible to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun casinos.
Steve Symonds, Wilton
Editor, Wilton Villager 2/6/9
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With federal "Stimulus"
funds soon to be available, and with the required Wilton land already
owned by the State, this is the time to get moving with the extension
beyond Norwalk. Add to this the fact that much or most of the
engineering and environmental-impact issues are behind us. So the
stimulus impact will be much sooner than otherwise.
Super Seven is going to be an urgent need sooner or later -- and
probably sooner, given that the widened old Route Seven will bless us
with additional stop-lights, a likely proliferation of strip malls, and
the addition of traffic which had previously used secondary roads.
Moreover, absent any center-dividers, motorists' need to change lanes
could well lead to an increase in head-on collisions.
At the very least, the State should hold on to the right-of-way it
already owns. It acquired this land cheaply; and if it now sells the
land, the price it gets will probably be much less than the amount it
will pay when it re-buys a right-of-way later on. The proposed
legislation by State Senators Toni Boucher and Judi Freedman is ill
advised. And with Wilton's ever worsening traffic, these ladies may not
even be playing such smart local politics.
With federal "Stimulus"
funds soon to be available, and with the required Wilton land already
owned by the State, this is the time to get moving with the extension
beyond Norwalk. Add to this the fact that much or most of the
engineering and environmental-impact issues are behind us. So the
stimulus impact will be much sooner than otherwise.
Lew Rose, Wilton
Highway Needs, Letter to Advocate 2/3/2009
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Jonathan Wilcox, author
Letter sent 2/1/2009
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Simmat, Mr. Hammersley, Mr. Marie:
I have just read the proposals for the RT 7 Bills. Let me be blunt about
this. A lot of time, years, taxpayer money and effort went into
acquiring this land for a specific use, a new RT 7. Most of the people
who live here now have little knowledge of the history of this original
road building project. I can say for sure if they did many would be good
and mad that a previous generation stopped this road. Most all of that
previous generation have probably moved away. I would also add that
those families, or heirs of same, who were forced to sell their land 50
years ago should come after the state for money they may have lost by
not retaining appreciating real estate. The towns also lost the tax base
from those properties, putting the burden on the remaining homes. The
current families living in Wilton, or commuting through it, are now
putting up with several years of road expansion on a limited stretch of
old RT 7. That causes traffic jams, increased cost of police to direct
traffic, and the business closing or income reduction of the merchants
who are located in the current construction areas. With the advent of
GPS many others are finding the numerous back roads that circumvent RT 7
placing traffic on routes that were never intended for that volume,to
say nothing of the safety issues and increased road maintenance.
It does not take a "Certified" traffic engineer to figure out that the
"Z" intersection at Grist Mill Road in Norwalk is but a harbinger of
what will occur in Wilton when the current "Expansion" is finished on
that part of the road. Sure it will make turns easier because of the
"5th" lane in Wilton, but most will be heading north or south, the road
will go back to two lanes, and their are already some "5th" lanes that
do little to help in the areas between Grist Mill and Rt 33. This is a
regional situation, and should be not be a town or minority special
interest dictated program, the area is to large, and the area population
has increased to much, for that mentality in this day and age.
While the economy at this point probably does not allow for limited
access highway building, it is not a good idea to declare the land as
"Open Space" or give it up as a future road right of way, because
someday there will be a vocal group that has the common sense to realize
that a road is needed, just as much as an improvement to the train line
is needed. There currently probably are a majority that would welcome
the new RT 7, but they are busy raising families, making a living,
commuting, and have little time to get involved in that goal. On top of
that what good is "Open Space" is you can't get to it!!
As a final note on this, I recently had to purchase a car. I could have
saved some money buying it in Danbury, but given the valuable time, and
aggravation, of getting there for service etc, I decided to buy in
Fairfield, and I mentioned that to the Danbury dealer. I am told that I
not the first to mention this.
Don't allow this land to be given up, it will be used for it's
originally intended purpose someday, and it was paid for with taxpayer
money for that reason.
Chauncey O. Johnstone
Editorial, Wilton Villager
January 26, 2009
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It's an old song and the tune has gotten no
better over the years. We're referring to not one but two
bills that have been introduced into the General Assembly designed to
kill off the Route 7 extension project once and for all. The bills
have been introduced by new state Sen. Antonietta Boucher, R-26 that
would carry on her long campaign against the limited access highway to
Danbury and beyond.
It took years to get as far as New Canaan Avenue (Route 123) and nearly
another decade to get it to Grist Mill Road near the Wilton town line.
As a state representative, the senator made her opposition to the
highway her mantra, even though public opinion in Wilton over the new
road has changed over the years.
One of the two bills she introduced would authorize the Department of
Transportation to sell off the land it owns in Wilton or turn it over to
the Department of Environmental Protection as open space.
The second bill would allow any land not used for 20 years after its
sale to be turned over to the DEP as open space. Given the present
economic position both the state and the nation is in at the moment,
it's obvious that construction isn't on the radar right now.
It is not impossible, however, that such a project could become a part
of the economic stimulus package. At least extending the road from Grist
Mill Road to the intersection of the old Route 7 and lower Route 33
could be a possibility. The sad part of it is if the state had
spent the money it has spent on widening portions of the old highway and
sought to build the leg to that intersection, it could be a reality.
We don't agree with the lawmaker's portrayal of a new Route 7 as another
I-95 ( the Lodge Turnpike). The planned highway is hardly that -- if
anything it's more like the Merritt Parkway. Another indication of
the changing sentiment in Wilton is the existence of the Committee for
the Extension of Route 7. Its members see it as an answer to congestion
on Route 7 -- so do we. We have always supported improvements to mass
transit and, in particular, to improving service on the Danbury branch
of Metro-North, including electrifying the line and increasing service.
Extending the new Route 7 would complement an improved rail system, not
compete with it.
wants to end 'Super 7' project 1/26/9
By Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer Norwalk Advocate
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A state senator from Wilton wants to put a stake in the long-dormant
project to build the "Super 7" expressway linking Norwalk to Danbury.
Toni Boucher, ranking Republican on the legislature's Transportation
Committee, submitted two bills that would allow the state Department of
Transportation to get rid of about 890 acres it purchased to build
"Super 7" decades ago.
The property in Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield and Danbury cost about $29.4
million at the time of purchase. The four- to six-lane "Super 7" highway
was planned 50 years ago.
Rural towns and environmentalists have blocked the project, though it
still has supporters, notably Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, a vice chairman
of the Transportation Committee. But the consensus in Hartford is that
"Super 7" will not be built anytime soon, if ever. The DOT instead
moved ahead with widening Route 7.
Boucher wants to authorize the DOT to sell the land or transfer it to
the state Department of Environmental Protection for open space.
"Given the long and tortuous history of this whole issue and the work
we're now doing to widen (Route 7) and improve the train line through
there, it makes sense to look at this option, rather than just letting
it lie," Boucher said.
DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said the agency last evaluated the value of
the land in February 2007. The nearly 829 vacant acres were worth $149.7
million, he said. The remaining 61 acres had about 20 houses when
purchased, he said. He could not immediately provide details about the
homes but said the value was $14 million in 2007.
Boucher said money from sale of the land is
needed now that the state faces budget deficits in the billions of
dollars. "The economic times call for us to look at any and all
options for revenue sources," Boucher said.
The other bill she submitted addresses Route 7 indirectly. If passed, it
would require any land purchased for highway projects that has gone
unused for 20 years to be transferred to the state DEP for open space.
As Boucher seeks support for her proposals, Duff tries to keep "Super 7"
on life support.
In 2007, Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, promised Duff
$10,000 to pursue an evaluation of the "Super 7" project. The money was
released in November to fund a University of Connecticut-Stamford survey
to "understand residents' opinions" about completing "Super 7."
Duff said the survey has been pushed back.
"I honestly don't know when it's going to get done -- could be this
summer, could be toward the end of the year," he said. Duff said
Boucher's bills are "the same old song and dance." Her predecessor,
former Sen. Judith Freedman, has made similar attempts, Duff said.
Freedman said Boucher might have more success because of the fiscal
crisis. "Most of the other towns have already decided it's not going to
happen," Freedman said. "The sale would make sense to me and I would
think it would make sense to the governor and others up there who are
looking for money."
Barbara Quincy of Wilton, chairman of the Committee to Expand Route 7,
opposes sale of the land. "I guess you'd say I'm holding out hope
they would someday finish the road. I don't think this is the time to
sell it or change its status," Quincy said.
But Boucher's "got some clout," Quincy said.
Interchange to get hearing in Norwalk
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
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Jo-Ann Horvath said she hopes a much-modified plan for the long-stalled
Merritt Parkway interchange with Route 7 in Norwalk will gain public
approval and help improve traffic safety in her city.
Drivers exiting the Merritt Parkway at Exit 40B add to hazardous traffic
conditions on Main and Glover avenues on their way to Route 7, said
Horvath, who lives on Creeping Hemlock Drive off Glover Avenue in
Norwalk. She has supported construction of a new interchange since 1985.
Over the past decade, work on a new interchange has been delayed by
concerns about ruining the historical character of the parkway, and
local residents fearful of noise, traffic and pollution.
"I think the plan is a lot better and addresses a lot of the issues they
had," Horvath said. "I'm very ready for this project to start."
The state Department of Transportation will hold another public hearing
next month on two similar designs for the long-delayed interchange.
The designs were completed after heeding comments from residents of
Silvermine, a historic neighborhood of about 1,700 homes in Norwalk,
Wilton and New Canaan. They opposed a design with looping ramps they
believed would bring traffic, noise and pollution to the area, said Rich
Armstrong, principal engineer for the DOT's Bureau of Engineering and
Engineers will be on hand at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Norwalk City Hall, 125
East Ave., to answer questions; a presentation of the plans will
follow at 7 p.m.
Residents may also submit written questions and concerns to the DOT
about the project, which is projected to cost $136 million to $156
million, Armstrong said. "We want to get broad public input," he
Work on the project stalled in 2006, when the Merritt Parkway
Conservancy successfully sued to halt it. At the time, the proposed
interchange would have eliminated the historic Main Avenue bridge and
done away with sections of parkway landscaping.
In response to Silvermine residents' concerns, the two new designs
rearrange ramps connecting the Merritt Parkway and Route 7 so they are
at the level of the parkway and include cutoff lighting to minimize
glare from the highway, Armstrong said.
"Silvermine residents had some very serious concerns about the previous
designs, and these latest alternatives have evolved from all of those
meetings with them and other stakeholders," he said. "If we read the
response properly, we think the response is pretty favorable."
Keith Simpson, vice chairman of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, said
the plan had positive aspects but the entire group needed to review it
before offering official approval. The additional ramps are needed
to complete the interchange and ease traffic congestion, Armstrong said.
Route 7 drivers now cannot enter the Merritt Parkway northbound.
Southbound parkway drivers can't enter Route 7, requiring them to exit
at Main Avenue. Under the revised plan, the state will replace the
concrete Main Avenue bridge to allow widening of Main Avenue, but the
new bridge will match the historical architectural details of the
original, Armstrong said.
"It is a historic structure, and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy and the
public in general would have liked to see that bridge unaffected," he
said. "While we have to widen and replace that particular bridge, we
will do it in a way that will very much mimic the first bridge."
If the plan meets public approval, the state will move forward with
engineering the project, which would include an extensive environmental
impact study that must be accepted by the state Department of
Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency.
If all goes smoothly, construction could begin in 2012, Armstrong said.
Despite features added to control light and noise from the highway,
Eleanor Sasso, a Wilton resident of Silvermine, said the new exit ramps
would bring an unacceptable increase in traffic and noise to her street.
She said she wished the interchange ramps could have been configured to
run through more commercialized areas west of Silvermine. "I'm
totally against the whole thing," Sasso said. "Once they start putting
their tentacles into beautiful neighborhoods, what's to stop them from
coming in farther and branching out? That's what happens in
-- Written questions or comments should be directed to Mr. Thomas A.
Harley, Manager of Consultant Design, CT Department of Transportation,
P.O. Box 317546, Newington CT 06131-7546, or by e-mail at email@example.com
-- Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Norwalk - Wilton, CT