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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mixed Reactions to Proposed Merritt Trails

By James Lomuscio

Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) plans for a 37.5-mile, multi-use trail along the south side of the Merritt Parkway from the New York border to the Housatonic River in Stratford—and expected to cost between $200 and $250 million—got mixed reviews tonight from about 24 persons at Westport Town Hall. Image
One of the slides shown at tonight’s Westport meeting depicts how the trail might look. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) DOT graphic

While some said they like the idea of walking, bicycling and jogging trails along the Merritt, others saw it as unnecessary in light of the state’s other transportation needs. Some saw it as a threat to the highway’s aesthetics, an infringement on abutting homeowners and a maintenance imposition on towns since DOT would not maintain it.

“A lot of things about this are interesting and attractive, but there are a number of things that would give our residents pause,”  First Selectman Jim Marpe told the DOT engineers.

In Westport, the trail would require certain infrastructure changes, Michael Calabrese, DOT project manager noted. Changes include a bicycle and foot bridge over the Saugatuck River, a boardwalk near Clinton Avenue, 900 feet of boardwalk over wetlands near Easton Road, a tunnel near North Avenue and intersection signage.

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