30-mile hike and bike trail getting fast-tracked

The Norwalk River Valley Trail is slated to run from Long Island Sound in Norwalk all the way to Danbury, but large parts of it don’t exist yet.

John Craven

Jul 5, 2023, 9:44 PM

Updated 283 days ago

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A hike and bike trail that could eventually connect much of western Connecticut is getting on the fast track – thanks to almost $5 million in new federal grants.
The Norwalk River Valley Trail is slated to run from Long Island Sound in Norwalk all the way to Danbury, but large parts of it don’t exist yet. Several sections are already finished, and Barbara Nordquist, of Wilton, takes her neighbor there.
“It's good to have someone to walk with,” she said. “Good partner.”
Kara Berghauf brought her family in town for the July 4 holiday.
“We love the trail,” she said. “It's awesome; we love it. They're expanding it every year. We love that the community has been very supportive of it.”
The new grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will finish design and engineering work on sections that aren't built yet, making those projects “shovel-ready.”
Supporters believe the trail will be a big driver for visitors – and attracting new residents.
“The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail brings in millions of visitors per year,” said Francis Pickering, executive director of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments. “Huge increase in property taxes, in spending, tourism, jobs. This will deliver all of that.”
It could also deliver safer roads by giving bicycles and pedestrians their own path.
“Twice as many were killed last year – pedestrians and bicyclists – than just 10 years ago,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), who helped secure the funding.
The trail will even connect to several Metro-North stations – and eventually, to the Still River Greenway – creating one 55-mile path from the Sound all the way to New Milford.
Planners believe the Norwalk River Valley Trail will take at least $40 million to completely finish, and the federal grant requires more than $1 million in matching funds. If all the money is in place, it could be completely finished in the next decade.
When it’s done, Nordquist plans to make her neighbor, Frank Bonanno, walk all 30 miles with her.
“At some point, we'll try,” he said. “We're building up to it!” To donate to NRVT or volunteer, click here.


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