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
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
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.