Friday, February 15, 2013

Merritt Parkway Trail update

Much hay was made of the 2011 Scenic Byways grant award received by ConnDOT to study the feasibility of the trail from Greenwich to Stratford.  And the study received a good deal of attention last year as the DOT conducted a series of workshops in towns along the corridor, as well as walking through much of the corridor to put eyes on some of the topographic challenges that this project faces.

It’s been a quieter time lately on this topic, as the DOT has returned to their Newington offices to analyze their findings and prepare for meetings that should start in late spring or early summer to present their findings and get more feedback.  But there is still much to share.

You’ve likely heard the rumors about how the original design of the Merritt Parkway included a bridle path running from end to end, but that this element of the design was eliminated prior to construction.  But did you know that a bridle path was developed anyway?  Shorter stretches of bridle path were linked with logging trails, informal footpaths, and old woods roads to create a 37-mile bridle path which was, apparently, well-used year-round in the 1930s and early 1940s.  In 1946, the State of Connecticut Merritt Parkway Commission, in its 1946 booklet, “Rules and Regulations Governing the Use of the Merritt Parkway”,  codified the use of these trails by clearly stating “Rule 11: Equestrians are permitted on the bridle paths of the Merritt Parkway.”

Recent weather has also given many people dreams of tranquil cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing.  This will truly be a 12-month trail: whether paved or unpaved, the Merritt Parkway Trail will be a wonderful recreational resource in winter as well as the warmer months.  We hope that you will stand with us as we continue to advocate for development of what will be Fairfield County’s premier recreational and active-transportation resource.

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