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The Merrit Parkway is a parkway in the US state of Connecticut. The highway is an outgrowth of New York’s Hutchinson River Parkway and runs as far as Stratford, where the road becomes Wilbur Cross Parkway toward Hartford. The highway is 60 kilometers long.
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The Merritt Parkway near Bridgeport.
The iconic bridges over the Merritt Parkway.
The highway begins in Greenwich, first after the New York border . Greenwich is home to many financial institutions that have left Manhattan. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. It passes through the densely wooded suburbs to the north of the city, and the road has 2×2 lanes. These neighborhoods have a good living environment and plenty of space. The Merritt Parkway is perhaps one of the greenest highways in the New York metropolitan area, with even trees in the narrow median strip. After this one comes through the suburbs of Stamford, a suburb of 119,000 inhabitants. The road is so densely surrounded by trees that daylight has difficulty illuminating the road. In the town of Norwalk one crosses US 7, a short north-south highway. The Merritt Parkway follows a northeasterly direction. You pass through Fairfield, a city that has been voted the most livable city in the Northeast of the US. After this one comes to Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut, which has a population of 138,000. Here one crosses two highways, the SR-25 and the SR-8, the last of which is a main highway to the town of Waterbury to the north. Again, only 2×2 lanes are available. At Stratford one crosses the Housatonic River, also the transition to theWilbur Cross Parkway.
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The main route through southern Connecticut has historically been the Boston Post Road, later US 1. In the 1920s, it started to become congested with traffic between the Connecticut coast cores and traffic to New York City. In 1923, three options were proposed, a new northbound route, an upgrade of the existing US 1, and a new southbound route for freight traffic. The latter option was built in the 1950s as Interstate 95. The first proposal was similar to a Robert Moses proposal to extend the Hutchinson River Parkway, then under construction, into Fairfield County.
In 1931, money was released for obtaining a right-of-way in Fairfield County, namely $1 million. That money soon turned out to be too little, since the part through Greenwich alone cost 1 million dollars. In 1935, $15 million was released, which would generate 2,000 jobs. The highway then went under construction and the first section opened on June 29, 1938, stretching 28 kilometers from the New York border to Norwalk. On September 2, 1940, the last 20 miles to Milford opened. The construction costs turned out to be not too bad with 22.7 million dollars.
The highway is one of the most scenic drives in the United States, each bridge over the Merritt Parkway has a unique architectural style, so no bridge over the parkway is alike. Only passenger cars are allowed on the highway. Tolls were levied at Greenwich from 1939 to 1988.
In 2001, a new style of signage was introduced on the Merritt Parkway that differs from the standard MUTCD requirements for American signage.
|New York state line||Norwalk||28 km||29-06-1938|
The Merritt Parkway is considered one of the most unsafe highways in the United States, due to its outdated road design with narrow lanes, missing emergency lanes, missing guide rails and many trees very close to the roadway. In the 1980s and 1990s, an average of 3 deaths per year was caused by falling branches or trees. This was later reduced by cutting down diseased trees and better trimming the shrubbery. In more recent years, the Merrit Parkway is sporadically closed during inclement weather, particularly during storms and hurricanes, when many branches fall on the road.
The road is not very busy, with 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles per day, but capacity is severely hampered by the old design requirements that are still as they were on the 1940s on the highway. Through traffic usually takes the parallel Interstate 95.
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