Arborcide? You Decide.

It took just a couple of days.

Last week, huge machines swept onto the south side of the Merritt Parkway at Exit 41. Loudly, insistently, they demolished dozens of trees.

Suddenly, the tranquil buffer separating the highway from the Westport Weston Family Y was gone. In its place were brush, wood chips, and an open view of traffic whizzing by.

Y employees were aghast. One said, “They took everything. There was even a hawk’s nest there.”

The Department of Transportation has every right to do what they did. It’s their land. In recent years, at least 2 people have been killed on the Merritt by falling trees.

Still, the speed and ferocity of the project was stunning. This is the same DOT that took about 23 centuries to replace a tiny Merritt Parkway bridge at North Avenue.

Meanwhile, folks on the north side, and east and west of the clear cutting — actual homeowners, not YMCA patrons and employees —  wonder who’s next.

25 responses to “Arborcide? You Decide.

  1. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    I don’t really know the details but it just seems so unnecessary, crude and offensive.

  2. Wow. Wondering who is overseeing a large project like this one? Was it necessary to cut down so many trees? We are currently appealing the proposed new gigantic water tank construction on 63-67 North Ave, opposite of Staples. One of the reasons why we oppose it: Landscaping! Aquarion wants to cut down ALL of the 50 mature trees on the property that are currently almost completely shielding the one existing water tank. Our group, Smart Water Westport, wants Aquarion to save more of the existing trees. While it’s also ‘their land” we are deeply concerned about the look of this property, that hundreds of Westporters pass by every single day. It will takes MANY years for new trees to grow. We know we can do better. To learn more, please visit SmartWaterWestport on Facebook.

  3. Sheer ugliness

    Written on a “smartphone” that sometimes edits without my knowledge …


  4. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    “We The People of Connecticut” Tuesday August 14, 2018 is primary election day don’t forget to vote for your candidate
    November 6, 2018 is election day for a new Governor for Connecticut and other state officials.
    If this landscape change bugs you / get out and VOTE!
    Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

  5. Hank Ottinger

    Your word, “ferocity” honestly captures this sort of “arborcide.” Who signed off on it?

  6. Caryl Beatus


  7. Could it be for a new on-ramp to the Merritt, and perhaps bridge widening? They have been working on that area for months.

  8. Ana Carolina Bicalho

    Old trees should be saved! I hope some department in town is overlooking big projects like this one. Aquarion is planning on cutting down a lot of the old trees on North Av for the new towers. Some need the come down but a lot will come down to make it easier for the construction site. Those are tall trees that would be helpful to cover the towers. It will be done with the same speed and ferocity as the Merritt project. We need to act fast or it will be too late.

  9. Shira Honigstein

    I agree with Ana and Stefanie regarding the trees on North Ave affected by the water tank project. Why should Aquarion destroy perfectly healthy/beautiful trees that can also provide screening of the proposed tanks? It will take years for new trees to grow in and it seems like a big waste of money to take down and replace perfectly good trees. Not to mention the principle…nature is precious…I keep thinking of the Joni Mitchell song “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot…”

  10. Chuck Greenlee

    Wonder if this is part of a shocking the $56 million project?? See way below.


    2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546

    FOR RELEASE: May 10, 2018
    TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
    FAX: (860) 594-3065
    Nighttime Ramp closures to occur on Merritt Parkway (Route 15) at Exit 41 and 42 Southbound Starting on or about Monday, May 21, 2018, through the month of June, 2018

    The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing that motorists traveling southbound on the Merritt Parkway and accessing entrance and exit ramps for Exit 41 and 42 can expect intermittent nighttime ramp closures to occur between 6PM and 6AM starting on or about Monday May 21, 2018, through the month of June 2018, in Westport and Fairfield.

    The contractor will complete milling and paving both lanes of the Merritt Parkway southbound (Route 15) from the Newtown Turnpike overpass in Westport to the Congress Street overpass in Fairfield.

    Motorists traveling southbound on the Merritt Parkway and accessing entrance and exit ramps for Exit 41 and 42 can expect intermittent nighttime ramp closures to occur between 6PM and 6AM. Message boards will be installed in the vicinity of the ramps several days in advance of closures/detours to inform motorists when closures will occur. Signed detours will be set up to direct traffic to an alternate exit or entrance ramp. The contractor will complete milling and paving both lanes of the Merritt Parkway northbound (Route 15) from the Newtown Turnpike overpass in Westport to the Congress Street overpass in Fairfield. Paving of the on and off-ramps southbound Exit 41 and 42 will also occur during this period. Traffic accessing entrance and exit ramps for Exit 41 and 42 northbound will be detoured as work is performed in the vicinity of the ramps. Ramp closures and detours will occur after 6PM and will impact only one ramp at a time.

    The project consists of the rehabilitation of 5 miles (each direction) of Route 15 and 11 structures (over and underpasses) in the towns of Fairfield and Westport. Upgrades to pavement, guiderail, drainage and historic concrete are included.

    DOT Project No. 0158-0211/207 was awarded to Manafort Brothers, Inc. at a cost of $56,712,000.00 on January 20, 2017 and is scheduled to be completed August 20, 2019.


    DOT Project No. 0158-0211/207 was awarded to Manafort Brothers, Inc. at a cost of $56,712,000.00

    • Stacy Prince

      Goodness, I just saw that last paragraph. My head would be spinning if it weren’t already!

  11. Jalna Jaeger

    If they are serious about protecting people from falling trees, they will have to clear cut Connecticut! What a waste of money, and I bet you they will plant tiny little trees that they will never water to replace those gorgeous trees. they also destroyed an active Red Tailed Hawk nest, that they can never replace, STUPID!

  12. Jacqueline Stewart

    Totally awful looking . Terrible taking down so many trees. Brain dead idiots and yes what a waste of money. So pathetic to take down all those trees.
    So awful, there are no words to use here! A hawk nest gone.

  13. Jack Whittle

    They’ve been denuding both sides of the Merritt for years now, ever since the spate of fatal trees-falling-on-cars incidents. The DOT seems to be taking a clean sweep 100’ back, much further than would seem necessary.

  14. Tina Torraco

    ARBORCIDE ! It’s so sad to take away old trees. Cutting them back could have helped.

  15. Dave Stalling

    We humans have a long history of ignorantly diminishing what sustains us while arrogantly thinking it helps us. Now that we’re safe from those deadly forests, we best start draining Long Island Sound; people have drowned in it!

    • Bob Stalling

      Excellent point Dave, but they need only drain up to the Connecticut boundary.
      I don’t want them spending more of our money….taxes are high enough.

  16. Don L. Bergmann

    I have come to be very displeased with the CT DOT over the past many years. I do not know why CT DOT seems so often to on the “wrong” sides of issues. My e mails and other communications with the CT DOT have at best been civil and at worse totally unresponsive to the many legitimate issues raised. CT DOT Comm. James Redeker has done a poor job. This situation on the Merritt appears to support my displeasure, as does the CT DOT’s unwillingness to allow Westport to use the CT DOT site on the Post Rd. for out school buses, the failure of the CT DOT to address the pollution from I-95 that is directed into the Saugatuck River and the manner in which the Cribari Bridge is being analysed. My heart goes out to our Y and to all of us who love to drive along that tunnel of greenery know as the Merritt Parkway. Shame on the CT DOT. Very troubling. All should e mail Jim Redeker.
    Don Bergmann

  17. Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

    That’s ensuring that our “family” YMCA, with tax-exempt status, can become a “regional” center servicing multiple towns, with easy access on-and-off the Merritt Parkway. Yea!

  18. Daniel Katz

    And, of course, there was a huge risk that someone was going to be killed by a tree falling in that buffer zone….inexcusable!

  19. Alex Kuhner

    I am one of the properties directly opposite from this ‘arborcide’ on the Merritt. I have two main thoughts on this trees on the Merritt issue:

    1) It is possible that DOT took those specific trees down to actually build something there, however… Taking action against perceived dangers with complete disregard for actual statistical risk is an issue that society has created – you are afraid of a tree falling our car during a storm (unlikely) but are completely willing to answer that text while driving, full well knowing that distraction causes accidents (much more likely). The state is only reacting this trend because they know they’ll be dragged into a lawsuit or in front of a panel if someone dies when a tree falls on their car. There is only more of this type of irrational behavior to come if we as a society don’t learn to prioritize risk based on actual statistics instead of how scary something sounds.

    2) If the state has the right to cut down all the “risky” trees on the Merritt, the people who have properties on it need the right to put up bigger fences. Eight foot fences are not enough to make up for the loss of trees and vegetation between dwellings and the highway. I still have trees the DOT can’t touch, but I need to make up for that loss – and no, I can’t afford a berm. I want the town to allow 15 foot fences on property lines which abut state limited access highways. The DOT has explicitly stated that on the Merritt “aesthetics are not the priority,” so why should it be the priority for the property owners be forced to prioritize the look over keeping the noise and lights out of our homes?

    I’m all for infrastructure projects, but being constantly woken up by giant machinery in the night sucks even more knowing the state’s money is going to corrupt Manafort and co!

  20. Mark Yurkiw

    I didn’t see what was done but I’d like to comment on the management of trees on all roadways in CT and in particular our Westport. I love the trees however….there doesn’t seem to be any “real-time” management of the trees near roadways. We have a reactive instead of a pro-active culture in general. The consequence is things are not “dealt” with till something really bad happens. The reason is simple; money & politics. No one wants to propose spending tax dollars until there is an outcry or political currency to do so. You probably get the picture by now but if you don’t let me give you a concrete example you can go and check out here in Westport right on Sturges highway. Take a 2 min drive on Sturges between Cross Hwy. and Meeker road. Stop and Look at the size of the trees TOUCHING the asphalt roadway, or inches away from that edge. They are scarred by cars that hit them. A few years ago they were even tagged, I presume for removal. If there isn’t an outcry to remove them they will wait till someone dies first and sues the town. On the state level, they take broad strokes, not manicure initiatives. My guess this story is probably about someone had to die and then there was “need” to take care of the trees on the Merritt in a big way “forward” thinking way with reports from a number of well paid “experts” who have no skin in the game.

  21. William Strittmatter

    The clear cutting looks pretty awful.

    Not defending it, but to put it in perspective, a quick google search provides some background.

    Primarily, I would imagine the state does not want to pay out any more multi million dollar settlements for deaths on Merritt from falling trees. There has been at least one and would imagine the cutting program provides a defense against negligent maintenance.

    Further, after a 2011 nor’easter that saw numerous trees come down on the parkway (as well as another death by tree), the state implemented a plan to cut down all trees within 30 feet of the road which is the reason for the carnage on much of the Parkway. After another person was killed by a falling tree (46 feet away) in March of this year on the Merritt in Stamford, CDOT decided to do further cutting.

    Seems like the State legislature was briefed on this in March so local representatives should have been aware of this possibility and had opportunity to provide feedback/push back on CDOT. I would guess push back, if any, was outweighed by non-parkway contiguous legislators.

  22. Dave Feliciano

    Could not the Aquarion Water tanks have facades on the so the look like some of the nice looking McMansions in the area. It would cost a lost less than the bad customer relations, publicity, and the lawsuits. Problem Solved.

    As to the Merritt, some nice dwarf species that don’t become “teenager killers” when our speeding progeny lose control of the Jeeps or BMW’s. Let’s see noise abatement, less maintenance, “Park like Parkways” Problem Solved.

    And maybe a nice bike path on the right of way.