5 MPH On the Merritt

Beyond killer trees and killer deer, the land abutting the Merritt Parkway is largely unused.

You can’t park there, picnic there, and you really shouldn’t pee there.

Soon — well, “soon” in government terms — that might change.

Some trees on the south side of the Merritt Parkway would have to be cleared for a biking and jogging path.

The state Department of Transportation is soliciting input on a bike and jogging path. Stretching 37 miles — from Greenwich to Stratford — it could even accommodate horses.

The trail — south of the parkway — would utilize the woods in between the road and adjacent properties.

The idea is still in the planning stages. (Nor is it new. Regional planners have envisioned something like it for years.)

But it has, um, merit. With the construction of the new Y at Mahackeno, a “greenway” could be a substantial add-on (and traffic reliever) to that project.

It could tie that part of town in with areas east and west in ways we can’t even envision, because when we’re in our cars we don’t see where the land can lead. There would be many access points between Exits 41 and 42 — and in each direction beyond.

And while a few trees would have to be sacrificed, that’s a few less trees to fall on unsuspecting motorists.

It’s a bit early to wiggle into your spandex. Public meetings must be held. Then come engineering studies, designs, funding requests, a lawsuit or 5…

So don’t expect to amble alongside the parkway this summer. Or next. Maybe in your grandchild’s lifetime.

But a journey (or jog) of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you’re interested in that journey, check out these workshops:

  • Wednesday, March 22 (Stamford Government Center, 5:30 p.m.)
  • Monday, March 26 (Greenwich Town Hall, 6 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 3 (New Canaan Outback Teen Center, 6 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 10 (Fairfield Osborn Hill School, 6 p.m.).

This is what a jogging and biking path might look like, according to the website ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com.

22 responses to “5 MPH On the Merritt

  1. That would be AMAZING! We really need a greenway- I am tired of being nearly run down by cars on Westport roads.

    • I hope that this does not come to be. The Merritt is already too dangerous for drivers. The distraction of joggers, bikers, and horses can only cause more car deaths.

  2. FUBAR!
    Let’s raise taxes even more so we can add commissioned sculptures and memorial plaques…maybe some water spouting fountains. Wading pools and outdoor showers and some benches, first aid stations staffed with Obamacare doctors. Wheelchair lanes and escalator walkways like in airports. Entrances would have TSA scanners to check for explosives and electrified deer fences.

  3. Someone else

    I’m with Veteran…another great idea with no clue as to how it’s gonna be funded. Not my tax dollars thank you!

  4. In the 60’s you could ride along the horse trail next to the Merritt in Stamford near Den Road and there are still trails near the Hutch in Westchester County.

    Hopefully the plans include a strong guard rail to protect the walkers/joggers/bikers/horses

    • Ah yes, the old horse trails along the Merritt from Den to Long Ridge in the 60’s ! Hiking, biking and moto-x with law enforcement officers in pursuit. Good times.

  5. With unlimited resources, maybe. If one were to prioritize sources and uses of funds, this would never make the cut.
    Dan, who’s idea is this?
    What legislators support it?

  6. I don’t mind spending money, as long as it is on the right things and is not being wasted. A greenway would be a tremendous benefit to the health and well being of the community. It has the potential to reduce health care costs and raise property values. Somehow, there is always enough money for bombs and wars.

  7. I think it’s a great idea! Funding is available. And, it is a very positive project.

  8. DAN, thanks for the link. LMAO!
    The list of benefits is preposterous. What shopping is near the Merritt? Let’s bike up to the Trumbull Mall and bike-schlep home with our purchases? ha ha ha
    We can build double decker parking at each entrance to handle the healthier crowds. Ribbon cutting ceremonies and photo ops would invigorate politicians to spend even more taxpayer dollars.
    The extra costs are described as “INSIGNIFICANT!”

  9. The CT DOT must have a few higher priorities for its limited funds than a jogging path along the Merritt (as beautiful as that skinny, wooded path in the picture is).

    Then there’s the parking issue, the trash issue, plowing, raking, etc., etc. And who will have the right of way … joggers, bikers, prams? This issue alone should be good for some interesting arguments.

  10. Actually, all of you are right. Having a separate running, jogging, walking path would be too expensive. Why not just use the perfectly good roadway we already have? Let’s just close the Merritt to auto traffic and take that over for running, cycling, walking. Runners cause a lot less damage to roadways than cars do – think of the savings! Critical Mass Merritt parkway… now that would be fantastic.

  11. Highway Worker

    First, this mxied use trail should be limited. I can not imagine mixing dog walkers with horses in lower Fairfield County. People can not be bothered disciplining their child let alone a dog.
    Second, it is my understanding it is NOT the DOT pushing this, it is a private group.

  12. The nature lovers would not object to expanding I-95 to meet vehicle needs, so long as the Merritt is left alone. With all the State-owned land abutting the Merritt, I would prefer to see it used for a light-rail link or extra vehicle lanes, equivalent to I-95.

  13. Wendy Crowther

    I was on the CT Trust for Historic Preservation’s website last night and noticed a section stating their opinions on this project. They provide some historic background (e.g. the early plans for the Parkway included designs for just this sort of path), and they also express their own opinions regarding the benefits and drawbacks of the path. It’s a quick, interesting read. Here’s the link: http://www.cttrust.org/12596

  14. Elisabeth Rose

    This is a wonderful idea, but where is the money coming from?

    I’d love to see this happen. It’s hellish trying to bike in Fairfield County, between insane drivers careening around corners and only a gravel- or leaf- covered spit of road to bike on. The bike and foot paths in Europe and other parts of the world have been extremely successful. In the long run this plan would improve health, cut down on the number of car-bike casualties and allow moms to jog w/ their kids in a stroller without fear of getting mowed over.