Federal judge calls for more information on proposed Merritt Parkway changes

News AASHTO Journal April 19, 2006
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A federal judge recently called for more information about Connecticut’s proposed expansion of an interchange on the historic Merritt Parkway in Norwalk, prior to making a decision about whether the project should proceed, the Hartford Courant reported.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Kravitz’ ruling, issued from his bench in New Haven, was lauded by environmental and historic-preservation groups, seven of which have joined in a suit to fight the project. It has been halted during the dispute, the Courant reported.

The opposing groups argue that the $100 million planned expansion of the Route 7/Main Avenue interchange would cause irreparable harm to a mile-long section of the roadway, and noted that several bridges would have to be torn down as part of the proposed work.

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation quoted the judge in a news release as saying the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have not yet shown that the project includes “all possible planning to minimize harm” to the historic parkway, as required by the state law. The organization is one of seven that filed a lawsuit decrying the project as one that would ruin the parkway’ historic integrity.

Kravitz will give the transportation agencies an opportunity to address the issues he raised, the Courant reported.

Chris Hoffman, spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said Kravitz was not able to determine “because of gaps in the record” whether FHWA “fully assessed the project’s potential impact on the historical value of the Merritt Parkway.” A further decision about whether the project can proceed is expected, Hoffman said.

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