Results of a survey on the proposed extension of a new, multi-lane Route 7 from Norwalk to Danbury show more than half the residents queried support its construction.
Residents in 10 communities the expressway would run through or are close to its proposed route were contacted, with 53 percent of 486 respondents favoring the project.
The study was conducted by the University of Connecticut — Stamford Campus on behalf of a panel of politicians, civic leaders and a carpenters union labor-management program who support building it.
Proposals to build a new “Super 7″ date back to the mid-1950s, and from the start, have drawn vociferous opposition from environmental groups and residents of the towns through which the road would run.
State Sen. Bob Duff (D-25th Dist.) has led the charge in recent years to get the road built, and at a news conference Wednesday morning he said the survey’s results revealed what he thought all along, “there is a tremendous amount of support to build Super 7 from Norwalk to Danbury.”
Sections of the new road have already been built in Norwalk and Danbury. The proposed route calls for the rest of the road to run through Wilton, Weston, Ridgefield and Redding.
Besides polling residents in those towns and Norwalk and Danbury, the survey also obtained input from residents in three nearby towns, Westport, New Canaan and Darien.
- Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss joined state Sen. Bob Duff at a news conference Wednesday morning in the Hilton Garden hotel on Main Ave. in Norwalk where the results of a survey on the proposed construction of Super 7 were released.
Overall, 6.2 percent of the respondents opposed Super 7, 53.1 percent supported it, 27.4 percent were neutral, and 13.2 percent did not know enough about it to have an opinion. More residents in the towns the road would run through supported it, 54.7 percent, than those living in surrounding towns, 48.4 percent.
The highest level of support was found in Norwalk — 54.3 percent for, 4.9 percent against, 26.2 percent neutral, 14.6 percent “don’t know” — and Danbury, 65 percent for, 3 percent opposed, 24 percent neutral, 8 percent “don’t know.”
The lowest level of support was found in Ridgefield — 46.9 percent for, 18.8 percent opposed, 15.6 percent neutral, 18.8 percent “don’t know” — and Wilton — 43.8 percent for, 15.6 percent opposed, 34.4 percent neutral, 6.3 percent “don’t know.”
Summarizing the results of the survey, Duff, who is vice chairman of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, said, “Across the board, we found a tremendous amount of support, and very, very little opposition to the Super 7 expressway, especially in the affected towns.”
A leading opponent of the proposed expressway, state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26th Dist.), represents Wilton, Bethel, New Canaan, Weston, Westport, Redding and Ridgefield. In a written statement released Wednesday afternoon, Boucher said the results of the survey “are inconsistent with what I know about my constituents.”
Boucher questioned the survey’s sampling methodology, and noted that more than half of its respondents were from Norwalk and Danbury, “where Super 7 would not be cutting straight THROUGH houses and environmental features.”
Noting the state has taken the expressway off all planning documents and is in the process of widening the existing Route 7, Boucher said, “It seems to me that Sen. Duff is beating a dead horse.”
Portions of the southern end of the project were completed in Norwalk between 1969 and 1992, rsulting in 3.9 miles of four-land highway connecting Interstate-95 to the Merritt Parkway and continuing to Grist Mill Rd. On the northern end, 9.9 miles of multi-lane highway was constructed from Danbury to Brookfield between 1961 and 1992.
The proposed extension of Super 7 would run 15.5 miles, according to the website nycroads.com, which has an 11-page section covering the history of the project.
Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, who is a member of the panel that commissioned the survey, said about 80 percent of the land that would be needed for the expressway is owned by the state. In her statement, Boucher said the remaining property the project would require includes valuable wetlands that cannot be replicated or mitigated, “making it nearly impossible to obtain necessary environmental permits.”
The survey was funded by a $10,000 grant from the state senate’s Democratic caucus. The entire the survey is available on-line at www.senatedems.ct.gov/Route 7.