CENTRAL NEW MILFORD, CT
6: EAST - WEST CONNECTOR
BOARDMAN ROAD 5. PATRIOTS WAY
EAST - WEST CONNECTOR7.
HOUSATONIC BRIDGES 8.
to the New Milford Economic Development
Commission's 2005 East-West Connector Study
The concept of the connector has deep roots in local planning.
As of March 2007 the Connecticut DOT has indicated its lack
of support for the concept, for reasons as listed below.
the logic of the concept still has appeal to many officials
and citizens in New Milford. The difficult geography of the
Town Center Area offers few other solutions. For this reason
the Connector concept should remain viable for future study.
OF THE CONCEPT
an historical perspective the 2.7 mile East-West Connector
proposal is a combination of two different projects each with
a distinct function. To distinguish them the names Western
Segment (about 1.4 miles) and Eastern Segment (about 1.3 miles)
are used, with Aspetuck Ridge Road used as the demarcation
between the two.
of both segments operating together would be to better provide
for east-west travel in Central New Milford, such that these
traffic movements do not all need to first travel south to
the Downtown prior to moving east or west.
function involved only the Eastern Segment, which was to be
a stand alone terminus for the long planned north - south
Route 7 Expressway. The Eastern Segment was recommended by
Conn DOT to be constructed with state and federal funds as
52 feet wide curb to curb, allowing for four lanes of traffic
for 1.3 miles.
The goal of this concept was to bypass New Milford Center
and two lane Bridge Street via a new Housatonic River crossing,
then distribute traffic on to the Eastern Segment of the East
- West Connector and then other roads.
The Commissioner of Conn DOT wrote to Town officials on 1/29/1991
that the Department agrees that the proposed North-South Connector
"will alleviate the existing traffic congestion in New
But the state never offered to also build the Western Segment
of the East-West Connector and said in the same letter that
the Town should do it with local funds. "If the Town
wishes to pursue this connection as a local initiative, the
Department will, during the design phase, coordinate its intersection
location with the proposed North - South Connector."
DOT plan to include the Eastern Segment of the East - West
Connector as part of the Route 7 construction plan would obviously
have brought much more traffic to the whole East - West Connector
than if it were just to serve more localized New Milford traffic.
it was decided in 1991 that a new Route 7 Expressway would
never cross the Housatonic River to interface with any point
on the East - West Connector. Existing Route 7 was to be widened
instead. The cost benefit of building the Western Segment
of the Connector alone then fell, as fewer trips would be
served per fixed unit of construction cost.
to the major Conn DOT policy statement of 11/26/1991. “Following
extensive public discussion and study, state and local officials
have agreed on a modified plan for improving highway travel
in the Route 7 corridor between Brookfield and New Milford....
As well as focusing upon the upgrading of the existing two
lane roadway, this plan was also to eliminate from consideration the New Milford bypass (now called the North - South Connector).”
AND POLICY POSITIONS
1966. There have been questions over the
years about how much traffic would use a stand alone (without
the Route 7 Expressway connecting to it) East - West Connector.
One old Conn DOT study documents a 1966 analysis of the traffic
crossing Veterans Bridge.
It was found that of the total of 15,000 vehicles, only 360
were originating from Route 202 to the north, crossing the
bridge, and then proceeding to or from Route 7 north. Thus
the goal of connecting Route 7 to Route 202 north of the Downtown
in 1966 was seen as not cost effective.
1972. After 1972 New Milford was expecting a new bridge crossing
as part of the joint Route 7 Expressway/North - South Connector
construction plan. Conn DOT was committed to build the Eastern
Segment of the Connector, such that Expressway traffic could
continue on to Route 202. (This commitment ran from 1972 to
Conn DOT planning map indicates how the combination
of an extension of the planned Route 7 Expressway, coupled
the Eastern Segment of the East - West Connector, would serve
as a North - South Connector to bypass Downtown New Milford.
official plan endorsed by Conn DOT showed an Eastern Segment
of the East-West Connector construction starting at Aspetuck
Ridge Road and running easterly to Route 202. The Western
Segment, a 1.4 mile section from Boardman Road easterly to
Aspetuck Ridge Road, would be facilitated in the design of
the adjacent state project but not funded by the state.
Then In 1974, as a result of Public Act 73-157, Conn DOT was
required to complete a study complete a “Feasibility
Study of A Boardman Road Connector”. New Milford's leaders
were attempting to have the 1972 Conn DOT traffic plan for
the East Segment amended to include the West Segment.
report examined the feasibility of making the western terminus
of the East - West Connector Boardman Road and not Aspetuck
Ridge Road, then to proceed easterly to Route 202. The 1974
report included traffic projections to 1995. These showed
average daily traffic (ADT) of 12,800 on the Expressway approaching
the Connector, then 10,700 ADT on the east side of the Connector
from the Expressway to Route 202 (the part Conn DOT supported),
and then 3,500 ADT on the Connector from the Connector to
Aspetuck Ridge Road, (the segment Conn DOT did not support).
1974 report concluded that there was a lack of justification
for such a longer east- west roadway, based upon projected
traffic volumes served, costs and potential environmental
impacts. Conn DOT stated in the 1974 report that "The
Department cannot justify the impact on the environment or
the expenditure of at least $3.0 million for constructing
a connector that would have an average daily traffic of approximately
1,700 vehicles with only approximately 300 vehicles per day
traveling between Route 7 and Route 202."
an additional "connector between the vicinity of the
proposed Route 202 Connector near Aspetuck Ridge Road and
Route 7 near the intersection with Boardman Road would essentially
take over the function of the existing town roads, and would
not qualify for inclusion in the State highway system... Since
the problem is local in nature and requires local road improvements,
it is recommended that the town consider methods of improving
local roads in the study area."
spite of these views local interest in the concept remained.
While this low traffic volume verified Conn DOT's earlier
1966 study, in 1975 the New Milford Board of Selectmen issued
a resolution declaring the construction of an East - West
Connector between Routes 7 and 202 to be very much a need
of the Town.
HVCEO’s 1984 Planning Bulletin No. 30 entitled “Projection
of Traffic Flow Improvements Needed For The Boardman Road
Area In New Milford” briefly assessed the value of developing
the West Segment. This would connect Boardman Road with Aspetuck
Ridge Road, across from Wells Road, about one half of the
distance from Route 7 at Boardman Bridge to Route 202.
report concluded that the total traffic volume that would
use the West Segment in 1995 would be less than 3,000 vehicles
daily, and that "this volume is significantly below that
which could be expected to be carried by a new two lane facility."
However, the report also advised that a further extension
beyond Wells Road to Route 202, adding the West Segment, would
improve the viability of the roadway.
The next milestone in the planning history for the East -
West Connector came in 1990, as Conn DOT released its new
policy for Route 7 Expressway construction. Coming north from
the current terminus of the Expressway in neighboring Brookfield,
the highway would travel along the west side of existing Route
7, intersect with existing Route 7, then continue due north
as the North - South Connector bypass around New Milford Center.
Conn DOT staging was A) bypass around the commercial area
in Brookfield, next B) North - South Connector Bypass around
New Milford Center, and then C) the large remainder of the
Route 7 Expressway connecting A and B. Conn DOT stressed to
local officials on 10/5/1990 that "the two bypasses would
receive first priority because the construction of these bypasses
would help reduce congestion in Brookfield and New Milford
The Route 7 Expressway plan was formally dropped by Conn DOT
in 1991, eliminating planned state funding for the East Segment
of the Connector, and at the same time reducing the cost benefit
of the West Segment to link with it near Aspetuck Ridge Road.
In 1997 an updated New Milford Plan of Conservation and Development
was adopted. According to that Plan “While it is recognized
that there is a need to access industrial areas in the vicinity
of the Boardman Bridge, absent the limited access Route 7
proposal, the need for the connection with Route 202 is not
a priority circulation need..."
"Based upon 1990 Census data there are only about 1,600
persons living in the area west of the Housatonic River and
north of Candlewood Lake Road. The demand for east-west local
access generated by this population does not support a major
connector as envisioned in the 1986 Plan.”
2003. But opposition to the negative position
of the Town Plan as to the Connector was considerable after
the 1997 Plan was adopted. In 2003 the Town Plan was amended
to reverse this position. The 1997 text was removed and the
following inserted in its place:
population growth, combined with traffic congestion, the need
for access to industrial land and changing traffic patterns
have made it a priority for the Town to develop a connector
between Routes 7 and 202 in the Boardman Bridge Area.”
“The Town should move rapidly to develop and implement
plans to create this connector initially to open the industrial
area and ultimately to provide a through connection between
Route 7 and 202.”
in 2003 the staff of the New Milford Public Works Department
provided a concept plan of how the entire East-West Connector,
both West and East Segments, might be laid out. This initial
plan balances concerns over topography, wetlands, river crossings
and population density. A generalized version of this 2003
Plan is reproduced below:
would be about 2.7 miles in total length. Two phases of construction
would be utilized. The first or West Segment would be from
the vicinity of Boardman Bridge easterly over the hilltop
to Aspetuck Ridge Road.
This first segment standing by itself could 1) avoid the approximately
$5.25 million investment of bypassing the low railroad overpass
on Boardman Road to its south, 2) provide access into the
350 acre vacant industrially zoned tract to its north, and
provide the traffic access needed for the Century Enterprise
Center on Aspetuck Ridge Road.
The New Milford Economic Development Commission undertook
study of the connector. It was found that for
construction 39 properties may require partial acquisition
and 9 properties may require full acquisition.
cost estimates were summarized as $15.8 million for the segment
from Route 7 easterly to Aspetuck Ridge Road, $9.6 million
for the segment from Aspetuck Ridge Road easterly to Merryall
Road, and $6.1 million for the segment from Merryall Road
to Route 202.
concepts included a 500 foot extension from Route 202 easterly
to Route 109 at $1.1 million, and a 1.95 mile reconstruction
of Paper Mill Road easterly to Route 202 at $7.9 million.
traffic diversions, morning peak hour traffic on Route 7 north
of Bridge Street would climb by 31%, and traffic on Bridge
Street over Veterans Bridge would decrease by 31%.
In March of 2007 Conn DOT’s Chief of Policy and Planning
Charles Barone provided New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy
with the state DOT viewpoint on the merits of the Town’s
1970’s East – West Connector roadway concept.
All perspectives were negative, the following points taken
from the DOT letter:
probability of constructing a new connector road from Route
7 in the vicinity of Boardman Bridge easterly to Route 202
is highly unlikely given the realities that exist in today’s
transportation climate. The following issues exemplify why
pursuing such an endeavor would be problematic:
that would be crossed by a new connector roadway is rugged
and would be challenging to traverse in a reasonable and safe
manner; wetlands and floodplains associated with both branches
of the Aspetuck River would be impacted, making it difficult
to secure federal and state wetland permits.”
“substantial rights of way would be required for a new
road in the new location; the cost of constructing a new road
through this corridor would be significant and no current
funding source exists to fund the project.”
as noted above the logic of the concept still has appeal to
many officials and citizens in New Milford. The difficult
geography of the Town Center Area offers few other solutions.
For this reason the Connector concept should remain viable
for future study by the Town and HVCEO.
to section seven, a discussion of proposed new Housatonic
River Bridges, that would in effect serve as
a North - South Connector.
BOARDMAN ROAD 5. PATRIOTS WAY
EAST - WEST CONNECTOR7.
HOUSATONIC BRIDGES 8.