State DOT: Merritt Parkway, Route 7 interchange will be completed
The state Department of Transportation says the unfinished connection between the Merritt Parkway and Route 7 in Norwalk will finally be completed after nearly two decades.
People voiced their opinions Wednesday night at Norwalk City Hall at a public hearing on changes to the interchange.
The State Department of Transportation says it has come up with a way to make smoother connections after years of research and analysis.
"We're going to complete all those movements to improve the mobility there and also improve safety along the Merritt Parkway, addressing some of the deficient ramps," said DOT principal engineer Neil Patel.
What's planned is to finish the second half of the job that already allows existing north and southbound traffic on Route 7 to merge onto Route 15 south only.
One design shows several new bridges that will need to be added to allow Route 7 traffic to merge north on the Merritt, and Merritt south traffic to merge onto Route 7 - all at a cost of about $100 million.
A second design requires fewer bridges and costs about half. Both projects require expanding the Main Avenue Merritt Parkway bridge.
The Merritt Parkway Conservancy filed a lawsuit in 2003 that put an end to the construction of the Route 15 and 7 interchange and also prevented the Super 7 connection to Danbury. Now the conservancy, the state and the federal government are all on board with this new project.
"We're very happy that after 28 different layouts for the interchange, DOT has come up with one that is substantially smaller, substantially less costly and a lot more park-like and much more compatible with the character of the Merritt Parkway," said Merritt Parkway Conservancy executive director Wes Haynes.
The state DOT says these changes should reduce accidents and make parts of Norwalk more friendly for bikers and pedestrians.
A final design is expected to be decided in two years.
The state DOT says construction is expected to start in 2026 and would take a couple of years to complete.