Saturday, December 5, 2009
* What is the Merritt Parkway trail?
* Why should we support the trail?
* How will the trail be maintained and who will pay for it?
* What are the economic benefits?
* How will the trail cross roads and interchanges?
* What kind of safety barriers will be used between the trail and the roadway?
* How wide will the trail be and will there be room for horses?
* How many trees will be cut?
* Where will people park?
* What hours will the trail be open and will it be lighted?
* How will graffiti be prevented?
* Will people living along the Merritt right-of-way lose their privacy?
* What is the role of Regional Plan Association?
* What is the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance?
* Whom can I contact for more information about the trail?
Q: What is the Merritt Parkway trail?
A:The Merritt trail is a proposed non-motorized multi-user path along the entire 37.5-mile length of the Merritt Parkway right-of-way from the New York border to the Housatonic River.
Q: Why should we support the trail?
A: The trail will contribute significantly to an improved environment, a healthier community and an enhanced quality of life by encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto their feet. It will help ease the traffic congestion on our roads by providing an opportunity for safe recreation and access to shopping, schools, the work place, waterfront and parks for bicyclists, walkers, and the handicapped. It will preserve open space, improve air quality, provide an up-close opportunity to enjoy and examine the specimen plantings and the 36 varied and unique bridges along the Merritt.
The trail is a critical link in the East Coast Greenway, a planned urban trail that will run from Maine to Florida. It will also give access to planned and existing intersecting trails including the Housatonic River Greenway and the Norwalk River Trail. It will give meaning to the bicycle/pedestrian lane that is a component of the new Housatonic River Bridge.
According to The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. This leads to over 300,000 deaths a year. So making our communities pedestrian and bicycle friendly is simply smart planning.
Q: How will the trail be maintained and who will pay for it?
A: The demonstration segment that is planned for Stamford will be maintained by the city. As the trail is developed and expanded, the best approach is to establish a dedicated fund to maintain the trail in a consistent manner.
Q: What are the economic benefits?
A:The Impacts of Rail-Trails a 1992 study conducted by the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service and Pennsylvania State University found that trails bring significant benefits to communities, such as preservation of open space and increased business for bike shops, restaurants, inns and other local establishments. The study determined that users spent an average of $9.21, $11.02, and $3.97 per person per day during their visits to the Heritage Trail in Iowa, the St. Marks in Florida, and the Lafayette/Moraga in California, respectively. And many studies show that trials not only enhance the quality of life in a community but also raise property values of the adjacent homes.
Q: How will the trail cross roads and interchanges?
A:At-grade-crossings would be appropriate where the trail crosses secondary, lightly-used roads. Tunnels or bridges would be used at busy interchanges and at Routes 7, 8 and 25.
Q: What kind of safety barriers will be used between the trail and the roadway?
A: ConnDOT purchased approximately 300 feet of land for the Parkway but constructed on only one-third to one-half of the northern portion of that land leaving the rest free of development. The trail will be constructed within this remaining southern portion of the right of way. Rock outcroppings and plantings will provide a natural safety buffer along much of the trail. Where necessary, safety fencing will be used. The minimum amount of separation recommended by AASHTO is five feet of horizontal separation, or forty-two inches of vertical separation, provided by a barrier or railing
Q: How wide will the trail be and will there be room for horses?
A:According to AASHTO guidelines, a multi-use trail should be a minimum of 10 feet. Designated lanes could provide protection for walkers but some trails have a soft shoulder for their use. In communities with equestrian use, a separate but adjacent trail is recommended.
Q: How many trees will be cut?/b>
A: This, of course, will depend on the topography, but the trail will be sited to cut as few trees as possible while maintaining good sightlines for all users.
Q: Where will people park?
A: TMany users will actually bike or walk to the trail. Others may use existing commuter lots and local nearby lots. For example, the Italian Center has offered the use of its lot for the proposed demonstration segment between High Ridge Road and Newfield Avenue. In some areas, commuter lots may be expanded or new lots built.
Q: What hours will the trail be open and will it be lighted?
A: Most trails are opened dawn to dust but because the trail is intended for commuting as well as recreational use, winter trail hours might require some form of safety lighting, for example reflectors.
Q: How will graffiti be prevented?
A: Currently, there is no trail or access along the Parkway but somehow graffiti appears on the bridges. Once a trail is in place with regular bicycle and pedestrian traffic, there should be less vandalism.
Q: Will people living along the Merritt right-of-way lose their privacy?
A: Because the existing road uses only a portion of the 300-foot right-of-way, a trail would be surrounded by a wide buffer, allowing continued privacy for the neighborhood residents and presenting minimal conflicts with possible future improvements to the Parkway. A Rails-to-Trails study of 82 suburban trails stated that only 3 percent reported any incidents of trespassing on adjacent property.
Q: What is the role of Regional Plan Association?
A: More information about RPA on the website at www.rpa.org
Q: What is the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance?
A: More information about this initiative can be found at www.merrittalliance.org
You can support the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance, a group of organizations, corporations, elected officials, and individuals dedicated to building healthy communities where bicycling and walking are encouraged, by becoming a member. You can also contact your local officials and state legislators to ask for their support to build a Merritt Parkway Trail. State legislators can be reached free of charge.
Senate Democrats, (800) 842-1420.
Senate Republicans, (800) 842-1421.
House Democrats, (800) 842-1902.
House Republicans, (800) 842-1423.
Q: Whom can I contact for more information about the trail?
Linda Hoza, Project Manager, Regional Plan Association
Two Landmark Square, Suite 108,
Stamford, 06901, CT.
Big News on the Merritt Parkway Trail!
Late October witnessed a landmark moment in the development of the East Coast Greenway. At the Fairfield County/East Coast Greenway Bicycle & Pedestrian Summit, ConnDOT Deputy Commissioner Albert Martin announced that the Department of Transportation would no longer oppose development of a Merritt Parkway Trail!
While there were the expected provisos about funding, department policy on fencing, etc, the switch of ConnDOT from roadblock to partner in development of this long-fought-for trail is the biggest step forward we've seen in years.
The Merritt Parkway, built in the 1930s, was originally designed with a bridle path in the extra-wide (300 feet!) right-of-way. The trail was never built, however. What was initially designed to be a road for pleasant Sunday driving has since devolved from being a PARKway into just another commuter highway, an alternative to Interstate 95 in southeastern Connecticut.
Click here to read a bit more about this announcement. Click here for the website of the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance, to learn more about the trail project, and the history of the roadway.
The Merritt Parkway then... and now.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
On October 15, 2000, Rudy Marconi, First Selectman of Ridgefield, cut orange surveyor's tape to open the first leg of the Norwalk River Valley Trails System. This portion traversed trails on new and existing open-space lands owned by the towns of Redding and Ridgefield and the State of Connecticut.
Guided by the new trail blaze of white with a vertical blue line down the middle, Lillian Willis, NRWA President, led a large group of hikers along this retrofitted route that features woodlands, mill ponds, streams, old dirt roads, and a remarkable old stone causeway through wetlands.
Midway, participants were met by Eagle Scout Nick Chizzonite of Ridgefield, who explained how he created a section of the trail on open space at the junction of Route 7 and Great Pond Road in Ridgefield. Other sections were created by a Student Conservation Intern, Town of Ridgefield summer workers, and Eagle Scout Spencer Sherman and Girl Scout Silver Awardee Caitlin Helgesen - both of Ridgefield.
Starting at Aldrich Park in Ridgefield, the trail has Redding sections, goes back into Ridgefield along old dirt roads lined with stone walls, and ends presently at the River Study Site at Simpaug Turnpike and Route 7. Plans are afoot to have the trail extend farther south and hook up to other parcels.
Another long section from Route 33, South Main Street in Ridgefield, into Wilton and back into Ridgefield, ending near the Weir Farm National Historic Site, was previewed in two spring 2001 hikes.
In spring 2002 a Ridgefield leg that incorporated three open spaces and the refurbished CL&P railroad path was also previewed. That trail is the subject of another Eagle Scout project.
NRWA is working on extending this interlocking trail system and on creating a map that will clarify locations and parking areas for this system, which includes a connected parks tour in Norwalk. In the meantime, additional guided hikes along this system are listed in our Events Calendar.
Eagle Scout Projects Improve Trail System
Three magnificent structures have been completed in the watershed on land under the jurisdiction of the Ridgefield Conservation Commission, which paid for all supplies. Ian Lipsitz built a 46' x 30" raised walkway that connects Town land with land owned by the National Park Service at the Weir Farm National Historic Site. DJ Wolff built two bridges, 26' x 36" and 29' x 36", to replace lighter structures at Aldrich Park, the top end of the Norwalk River Valley Trail System. Celebratory hikes to inaugurate all three structures took place in January 2003.
Meanwhile, three Scouts have volunteered for new watershed projects. One will construct a bridge at the Georgetown Park NRWA is creating with four other partners (Town of Redding, Redding Garden Club, Georgetown Village Restoration, Inc., and Overbrook Associates) at the junction of routes 107 and 57 in Georgetown under a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star Grant to NRWA. Another Scout will extend an existing trail, install erosion bars, and mark the old rail line and two adjacent Town of Ridgefield open spaces with the NRWA trail blaze. Subject to secure easements, the third Boy Scout will construct the missing off-road link in the trail from Route 33 in Ridgefield through Wilton and back into Ridgefield at Weir Farm.
Mr. Brennan also spoke about efforts being done to improve pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the area.
Written by Justin Reynolds
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:49
Ever since the Route 7 widening project began in September 2006, many Wiltonians shared one sentiment: I can’t wait until this is finished.
Thirty-nine months later, the finish line appears to be in near sight.
In a formal statement First Selectman William Brennan issued Tuesday, Wiltonians might have to wait just six more weeks.
“If all continues to go well, Wilton will also have a four-lane Route 7 to celebrate in addition to the new year,” Mr. Brennan said. Department of Transportation “project management initially planned to open the road in the spring, but we prevailed on them to get it open prior to the heart of winter and they are doing their best to do so.”
Mr. Brennan said that he was tempted to write an information piece to the community indicating the forecasted completion date — “for several weeks” — but did not want to jinx the target date.
Residents, including Doug Fechter, whose letter to the editor appeared in the Nov. 5 edition of The Bulletin, might have noticed — and gotten frustrated over — the appearance of four completed lanes on Route 7, with orange barrels blocking the outer lanes of both the northbound and southbound sides of the road.
“Currently, contractors are working diligently to pave driveway entrances, add guardrails, plant trees and finish sidewalks along the road,” Mr. Brennan said. “They need to work safely. Therefore, DOT has been required to keep the two-lane road in place.”
Mr. Brennan said the last phase of the project is the installation and programming of new traffic signals.
“Progress is being made as indicated by blinking light signals, which means new signals are powered,” Mr. Brennan said. “Programming and testing will follow to complete the installation.”
When finished, the $35-million project will have added two lanes for 2.81 miles from Wolfpit Road to Powder Horn Hill Road and from Powder Horn Hill Road 1,000 feet north to Olmstead Hill Road. Other features of the project include a sidewalk installed on the road’s west side, the installation of more “high-tech” traffic signals, work on walls and the bridge on Ridgefield Road and landscaping.
Mr. Brennan also commented on what he called “significant transportation progress that has been made in the last year in our area.”
“Construction work has already started on the Norwalk to Danbury line signalization project made possible by a $30-million stimulus plan investment,” Mr. Brennan said. “When this work is completed, service on the branch line will be substantially improved. New rail cars are currently being tested and soon deliveries of the long awaited new passenger cars will start arriving on a monthly basis, first on main line routes, but eventually on the branch lines, too.”
Mr. Brennan also spoke about the upgrades at the Cannondale Train Station, which include the installation of restroom facilities and a newly painted station.
“This historic station looks very atractive and the vendor now has running water in the station,” he said.
The Wilton Train Station — an issue that has irked Wiltonians for many years — is scheduled to get a facelift as well, Mr. Brennan said.
“Two weeks ago, we announced that a definitive argreement has been reached with the Department of Transportation to have the Wilton Train Station completely renovated and reopened,” he said. “The work will be completed by October 2010, and, hopefully, an agreement with a vendor will be concluded to operate a food service facility at the station.”
Mr. Brennan also spoke about efforts being done to improve pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the area.
“Good progress is being made to reinvigorate a bike and pedestrian trail from Norwalk to Danbury that has been discussed for several years,” he said. “This greenway project has been stimulated by the potential availability of lands originally acquired by the DOT for a Super 7 highway, which is virtually a dead, dead project at the DOT due to the strong resistance of citizens and public officials from Wilton to Danbury.”
Mr. Brennan said “the trail — currently dubbed the ‘Norwalk River Valley Trail’ — is in the initial stages of organization and that a “regional planning committee has been formed with strong support from public officials from Norwalk to Danbury.”
“Progress comes slowly,” Mr. Brennan said, “but progress has been made and benefits are coming.”
Friday, November 13, 2009
Connecticut DEP has contacted us about several complaints received during a recent trail ride on DEP Property. The complaints appear to be centered around unleashed “trail dogs” and discourteous behavior with other users on DEP lands. It should be noted that while on DEP Parks and Forests, Section 23-4-1(f)(1), states that “riding animals and pets must be on a leash that is no longer than seven (7) feet in length, and must be under the control of their owner or keeper at all times”. The penalty occurred would be an infraction for $75.00.
Please be friendly and respectful to other trail users and keep in mind the following 10 Responsible Riding Tips according to the International Mountain Biking Association:
1. Be Prepared
Know your equipment, your ability, the weather, and the area you are riding and prepare accordingly. A well-planned ride will go smoothly for you and your companions.
2. Don't Ride On Closed Trails
Whether it is to protect the environment or for rider safety, a closed trail is off limits for a reason. Riding closed trails is not only illegal; it gives mountain bikers a bad reputation.
3. Say No To Mud
Riding a muddy trail can cause unnecessary trail widening and erosion that may lead to long-lasting damage.
4. Respect the Trail, Wildlife and Environment
Be sensitive to the trail and its surroundings by riding softly and never skidding. Do not litter and never scare animals.
5. Stay On the Trail
Do not intentionally ride off trail. Riding off trail can damage the ecosystem. Never cut switchbacks.
6. Ride Slowly On Crowded Trails
Just like a busy highway, when trails are crowded you must move slowly to ensure safety for all trail users.
7. Pass With Courtesy and Care
Slow down when approaching other trail users and respectfully make others aware you are approaching. Pass with care and be prepared to stop if necessary.
8. Share the Trail With Other Trail Users
Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians must share multi-use trails. Remember: mountain bikers should yield to hikers and equestrians.
9. Don't Do Unauthorized Trailwork
Unauthorized or illegal trailwork may lead to environmental damage, injury or even potential trail closure.
10. Get Involved
If you want to make a difference in your mountain biking community get involved.
New England Mountain Biking Association
Saturday, October 31, 2009
explore how to incorporate a multi-use bike and walking path in the wooded corridor south of the Merritt Parkway
State DOT and DEP voice support for Merritt trail work
The heads of the state's transportation and environmental protection agencies have agreed to explore how to incorporate a multi-use bike and walking path in the wooded corridor south of the Merritt Parkway into their plans.
"We're taking a fresh look at the role that bicycles and pedestrians have in improving mobility," state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie said. "The Merritt trail is definitely worth evaluating."
Amey Marrella, the state Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, said the agency considers a proposed 1-mile pilot path between High Ridge Road and Newfield Avenue in Stamford a promising way to try out the idea of a longer 37.5 mile, non-motorized path between Greenwich and Stratford.
"They already have a pretty detailed conceptual design and have done a lot of the work with adjacent property owners," Marrella said. " The main thing now is to go from a conceptual design to an actual design for construction and find the resources to do it."
The Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance and other non-profit groups have been pushing the 37.5-mile trail concept since 1992, Linda Hoza, an alliance coordinator, said.
Hoza said the new coordination and focus by the two departments has excited local bicycle and pedestrian advocates, who have tried to get the High Ridge to Newfield Avenue path built since 1994.
"It's amazing to have this support for the project after 17 years," she said. "This is the
Marie said he would like to see part of the trail built, but that design challenges like wrapping the route around the parkway's series of ornate concrete bridges, community opposition, and the overall cost of the trail could pose challenges.
"There are some significant challenges to the project but there are parts of it that could be built," Marie said.
Marrella said beginning next spring, the DEP expects to award a series of $1.4 million federal grants for greenway projects; she encouraged local planners and activists to submit proposals.
Overall, constructing the path would benefit ongoing efforts to expand recreational trail networks and help improve air quality, she said.
"I think the rationale and the reasons why greenways make sense are increasing," Marrella said. "When you look at the increasing certainty of climate change this project could provide an alternative not just to deal with our traditional pollutants like smog but also to reduce greenhouse gases."
Under the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2008, the state is reduce greenhouse emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050, Marrella said.
Transportation accounts for more than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, according to the DEP.
Marrella said the route is included as part of the 2,750-mile East Coast Greenway, a series of trails stretching from Canada to Florida.
"We're hoping to get a lot of robust proposals for greenways this spring," Marrella said.
The state's draft update of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, which is compiled by the DOT, also includes a recommendation for a feasibility study of a Merritt Parkway trail.
Hoza said the right of way along the parkway's south side is broad enough for the path to bypass Merritt bridges without much trouble.
If the trail was built in southern Fairfield County, it could be linked in with other trail systems along the Mill and Norwalk rivers to allow employees to bike to work, improving health and air quality, she said.
"This is a time when we are trying to get people out of their cars but we don't provide them the facilities to do so in Fairfield County," Hoza said. "We're just at the beginning of this process and there are design issues and people with NIMBY issues that have to be addressed."
Jill Smyth, executive director of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, a group that promotes the preservation of the highway's historical character, said the group is open to the idea, but concerned about environmental and aesthetic effects of the proposed path.
Several years ago, the conservancy agreed not to oppose the construction of the one mile pilot path from High Ridge Road to Newfield Avenue if the state decided to fund building it.
"We have concerns about the impacts of the multi-use trail and how it would change the character of the parkway," Smyth said. "What would it look like? We would be opposed to any further clearcutting of the trees that would threaten the defining elements of the parkway."
Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 203-964-2264.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546
NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT, 06131-7456
|FOR RELEASE: October 23, 2009|| |
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
FAX: (860) 594-3065
WEB SITE: www.ct.gov/dot
A limited number of eligible schools (up to 10) will be selected through an online application process to receive program assistance tailored to meet their individual needs.
The following assistance offers:
• SRTS Program overview (Presentation and Q & A session)
• SRTS Committee and Champion Assistance
• SRTS Plan Walk Audit Support (Engineering Recommendation Assistance)
• SRTS Plan Mapping Support (Geographic Information Systems Software Assistance)
• Evaluation - Analysis of Success
• Plan Review and Critique
• Bicycle & Walking Education
Detailed program information and online application is available at www.walkitbikeitct.org.
Application deadline is November 13, 2009.
What is the Safe Routes to School Program?
The SRTS Program was established in August 2005 as part of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The objective of this federally funded initiative is to encourage more students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade (Grades K-8) to walk and bike to school, as opposed to other transportation alternatives, thereby encouraging a more healthy lifestyle. General program information is available on the Connecticut SRTS website: www.ctsaferoutes.org. Questions can be forwarded to the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Ms. Sharon Okoye, via e-mail at email@example.com.
State Project No. 102-269
Federal-Aid Project No. NH-7(122)For PE
Route 15 and Route 7 / Route 15 and
Scope of work
The project consists of the construction of a full-directional interchange between U.S. Route 7 and Route 15 (
Between June and November 2008, the Department of Transportation has held a series of stakeholder meetings with local residents, special interest groups, historic advocates and public agencies. ConnDOT and the group have examined the project’s purpose and need; discussed safety and traffic issues; gained a better understanding of the community’s issues and concerns; reviewed previous design alternatives; and developed a new proposed design, Alternative 21. We believe the meetings have been very successful and that there is consensus among the stakeholders that new Alternative 21 is the new preferred design alternate. At this time, ConnDOT would like to put this alternate forward for public comment at a public forum February 25 2009.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This page was last modified on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:06 am.
Copyright © 1987-2009; New England Mountain Bike Association - NEMBA
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The event will feature a meet-and-greet with exhibit curators and artists, bike tricks performed by BMX riders and acrobats, free Cannondale demos, tune-ups by the Bike Doctor, primp-my-bike contests, prizes, rides, helmet fittings, family activities, refreshments and more.
The event will kick off early in the day with the Le Tour d'Aldrich -- three organized bike rides for cyclists of all abilities. Riders will depart from East Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield and finish their ride at the museum.
As for the exhibit itself, it explores the growing relevance of bicycles in contemporary art and culture. There are about 30 pieces; some are artistic representations of bikes, while others are cutting-edge, fully functional bikes from the world's best designers.
Among the items on display will be two of Lance Armstrong's Trek bikes, used this past year at the Tour de France.
The exhibit also shares facts about bike use and encourages the use of human-powered vehicles.