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Aesthetics and Safety on the Merritt
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The state Department of Transportation is using stimulus funds to remove trees along the Merritt Parkway to improve safety. But a group dedicated to the conservancy of the parkway is concerned that removing trees could change the character of the road.

The Merritt Parkway is different from most other major roads. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it has the feel of a park. But there can be as many as 80,000 cars a day on it.

As part of a $66 million safety improvement project the D.O.T. is removing trees and invasive plants on the Merritt in Fairfield and Trumbull. According to the D.O.T. some of the trees are leaning towards the road creating a hazard. Some are diseased or dying. Jill Smyth of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy says her group doesn’t want to compromise safety, but is concerned the aesthetic qualities that make the Parkway unique are being compromised

“The feeling you feel when you’re driving on the Parkway of very open areas to strongly enclosed and the enclosed areas includes the vegetation, the steep slopes, the rock cuts that define the edges. And we don’t want to see any of this lost, as well as we, don’t want to see the tree canopy lost.”

Kevin Nursick of the D.O.T. says the trees and shrubs will be replanted. He says it’s going to look worse before it looks better, but when the D.O.T. is done the Fairfield Trumbull stretch will look pristine.

The Merritt Parkway Conservancy is also concerned about a separate project in Stratford where the D.O.T. is removing 300 trees. The agency says it will not replant there because of safety concerns.