Working to protect, preserve and enhance this historic Connecticut roadway through education, advocacy and partnership

Multi-Use Trail

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is conducting a Feasibility Study, funded through a $1.1 million grant from the National Scenic Byways Program. The study will inventory the natural and cultural resources within the Merritt corridor. Conceptual designs and trail alignment, located in the south side of the right-of-way (north bound traffic lanes), will be developed along the entire length of the Parkway. At the end of the study a feasibility determination by CTDOT will be made as to further develop the multi-use trail.

The Merritt Parkway Conservancy is opposed to the multi-use trail because it will cause detrimental effects to the environment and the character defining features of the Parkway. MPC is concerned there is no supporting documentation on future utilization of the trail based on current trail demands in Fairfield County; and no analysis on the number of commuters that will use the trail instead of traveling by car.

Clear-cutting of trees for a 14' swath in the right-of-way and trimming of adjacent trees. The trail is a 10' wide strip of pavement with two 2' shoulders with emergency vehicle access. This will require thousands of trees and shrubs to be removed.

The trail discussions have noted the positive health impacts of exercise and recreation. However, the importance of the functional value of our urban forest has been largely ignored. The Merritt's greenway is critical in producing clean air, improved water quality, preventing soil erosion, reducing storm water runoff and making Fairfield County more livable. The greenway is also a capital investment that would be depleted and would not be replaced in kind. In a 50-year life span, one tree generates $32,000 worth of oxygen, $62,000 of air pollution control, $37,500 of water and $31,000 of soil erosion (US Forest Service).

The loss of trees will also threaten the biodiversity of wildlife and the many ecosystems in the greenway for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Much of the land along the road is undisturbed, as CTDOT does not permit recreational activities in the right-of-way. The proposed plan with impervious trail surface, boardwalks and fencing will fragment and degrade the continuous tract of land that supports biodiversity today.

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Your generosity lets us continue our work to enhance and revitalize the celebrated Merritt Parkway:

The iconic historic bridges are being cleaned and restored. We continue to provide professional expertise to work closely with the DOT on restoration and preservation of the original design of the bridges. This coming year we will continue to monitor the repair and restoration of several additional bridges including much needed work on the Talmadge Hill Railroad Bridge in New Canaan and the North Avenue Bridge in Westport.

The charming service areas in Fairfield and Greenwich have been completed. We work in partnership with the developer to preserve the exteriors of the buildings. The buildings have been restored to the 1940s design, with the original brick and stone exposed; original trim color; matching the original slate roofs; installation of replica clocks; windows similar to the originals; wooden shutters; limited signage and no garish logos on the buildings. The gas station canopies have been relocated and designed to blend into the surrounding landscape. In the upcoming year, we will continue working with the developer and DOT on the restoration of the New Canaan service areas.

The bucolic landscape in Stamford is being replanted after our review and comment on the landscaping plans. We will continue to advocate for funding to restore the landscape in the areas impacted by DOT's tree removal program. In addition, we continue to advocate against development and recreational pressures that would affect the beauty of the Parkway.

The Merritt Parkway Conservancy relies solely on tax-deductible contributions and foundation grants to fund its activities. We are the only nonprofit dedicated to protecting this historic greenway. Your year-end contribution at any level is critical to helping us to ensure that the Parkway will be enjoyed for generations to come.

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Stamford/New Canaan Project Update

This project is part of CTDOT's overall corridor improvement plan, involving resurfacing and providing safety improvements and enhancements from the Greenwich/Stamford town line to the South Avenue Bridge in New Canaan. The improvements include:

  • Replacing the existing guiderail with the steel backed timber railing
  • Widening the right shoulders to 8 feet (4 feet paved and 4 feet reinforced grass shoulder)
  • Installing a concrete curb and gutter system along the median for drainage
  • Installing a new drainage system
  • Resurfacing the roadway
  • Landscape restoration, including removal of invasives, tree removal for safety, and planting of native shrubs and trees
  • Bridge cleaning, repair and restoration

The project is similar to the recently completed project in the towns of Fairfield and Trumbull, and is anticipated to be completed in 2015. For additional information, please email or contact Timothy M. Wilson, P.E., CTDOT Manager of Highway Design Engineering and Construction at

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Photographs for the Merritt Parkway Conservancy courtesy of Eric Seplowitz, Tod Bryant, Westport, the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER).

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