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.

Donate Now!

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

During your travels on the Parkway, we hope you celebrate the many successful projects your donations have helped us accomplish this year. Since 2009, we worked with CTDOT to complete the repair and restoration of 29 bridges, utilizing professional restoration expertise and material analysis. Next year we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with CTDOT on the restoration of ten bridges in the Westport area. This marks a milestone, as more than half of the bridges will have been restored by the end of this project, highlighting their original architectural features.

We continue to advocate for funding to restore the landscape in the areas impacted by tree removal, and to address the necessity for increased native roadside plantings in response to environmental changes and the need for improved habitats for pollinators. We are working with other stakeholders to adopt new planting policies for the Merritt that will decrease the need for mowing and thus reduce lane closures for mowing operations.

The Merritt remains a unique parkway and a vital part of Connecticut’s cultural heritage for travelers to enjoy. However, your continued support of the Conservancy is crucial to the preservation of the Merritt. We are the only nonprofit dedicated to protecting this historic greenway and rely solely on tax-deductible contributions and foundation grants to fund our activities. Together, we can ensure that the Merritt will be enjoyed by current and future generations.

Thank you in advance for your generous contribution and best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season!

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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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