The proposed Merritt Parkway Trail would be a multi-use trail along the entire 37½-mile length the Merritt Parkway right-of-way.
The trail would :
- create for its users a safe east-west route through congested southwestern Connecticut;
- encourage bicycling and walking – alternative modes of transportation – between residential, commercial and recreational areas, employment centers, shopping, a university and schools, all located along the length of the Merritt;
- abate pollution and noise by replacing automobile trips;
- create a place for exercise, not just by bicyclists but also by joggers, dog walkers, rollerbladers, cross country skiers and wheelchair users;
- enable users to enjoy the beauty of the Merritt, instead of experiencing it through the windscreen of their cars at highway speed;
- create tourist destinations and sources of economic development;
- close the gap in an essential piece of the 2,900 mile, Maine to Florida, East Coast Greenway; and
- create a very popular recreational amenity.
Where multi-use trails have been built, they have been heavily used. For example, a study by the Farmington Valley Trails Council estimated that its 38-mile system in a relatively rural area of upstate Connecticut was used 252,215 times in 2013. Usage is higher in more densely-populated areas. The Charles River Bike Path, between Boston and Waltham MA was used 1,109,814 times per year, and the Hudson River Greenway in New York was used 1,402,330 times per year.
The Merritt Parkway Trail would transform an underutilized asset, the Merritt right-of-way, into an amenity that would make a very positive contribution to the quality of life in southwestern Connecticut.