More than development. Norwalk redevelopment.

Merritt Parkway Multi-Use Trail Advances

On April 28, 2011 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the award of 2010 National Scenic Byways Grants and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (Conn DOT) has been awarded a $ 1.1 million grant (to be matched w/ $ 275,000 state funds) to conduct a feasibility study of a multi-use trail along the Merritt Parkway.   The Merritt Parkway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 1991 and was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1996.    There has been considerable interest in developing a trail along the Merritt Parkway in conjunction with other efforts to develop an East Coast Greenway from Florida to Maine.   The project is consistent with FHWA and Conn DOT goals to develop transportation options and sustainable communities.

The study will encompass the entire length of the Merritt Parkway and the proposed trail would likely be located on the south side of the Parkway where there is a larger buffer available.  The trail would involve several local road crossings which are envisioned to be at-grade crossings.   The trail would also traverse many wetland, stream, and river crossings.   The planning study will identify environmentally sensitive areas and determine the most prudent and feasible course of action at these locations.   The study will also review the possibility of locating sections of the trail on local roads where accommodation of a trail within the Parkway right-of-way may not be feasible.

There may be many benefits to the provision of a multi-use trail along the Merritt Parkway; and yet, many challenges as well.   The grant does not provide for construction of the trail; rather it provides an opportunity for a comprehensive review of such trail, including an extensive public outreach effort anticipating many stakeholders.

The project is to be composed of four primary assignments — an Initial Inventory, Public Outreach, Conceptual Design, and Environmental Documentation.   We look forward to your valuable input in this feasibility study and plan to include this as a regular agenda item for consideration at the upcoming Merritt Parkway Advisory Committee meetings.