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Norwalk Plus SPRING 2007

Super 7

Two sides of the same highway

by Robert J. Sodaro

Super 7. To those living in the greater Norwalk area those words evoke images of a gleaming, ultramodern superhighway, granting easy access to the northernmost reaches of the state, or an impending catastrophe, an environmental nightmare negatively impacting the quality of life of hundreds of individuals in its proposed path. In either scenario it translates out into a decades-long regional boondoggle with no easy resolution in sight.

Love it or hate it, there are few citizens living in the greater Norwalk area – or along the proposed northern path of the road – who have no opinion on the topic, and fewer still who are shy about expressing those feelings. One former local resident delights in telling the tale of how, when he first moved into the area from New York City in 1954 or thereabouts, he and his two brothers-in-law were looking to purchase a local business. They found a location they liked and wanted to buy it, but when they were questioning the locals about the business they were warned that the new and improved Route 7 was slated to come through the area and the store was directly in its path.
Well, they purchased another store located in Stamford, ran that store for a few decades, sold the store, retired, and eventually all moved to Florida. Oh yeah, the store they were originally looking at? It is still there, with “the new Route 7” no closer to completion than it was back in ’54. Stories like this one are all too familiar to longtime residents.

This “New and Improved” Route 7 (now dubbed Super 7) has been in the planning stages for nearly five decades. Originally, state and regional officials had planned an expressway to replace the existing US 7 between the cities of Norwalk and Danbury. Back in 1955, the Connecticut Highway Department began planning improvements to this corridor. Then a couple of years later, the State announced that the existing US 7 would be expanded from two to four lanes between Norwalk and Danbury and estimated that the project would be completed by 1962. Needless to say, except for some stretches, that widening never actually occurred.

Well, if state senator Bob Duff (D) – the majority whip representing the 25th senatorial district, which includes Norwalk and Darien – has his way, all of that will eventually change; one of his pet causes is to reinvigorate the debate regarding Super 7, and to actually get the decades-long project out of development hell and back on track. “Frankly, the only highway worth building in the state is Super 7,” the Senator recently told us. “It is a way of getting commerce back and forth. We have 2½ million square feet of commerce space at the base of Super 7 here in Norwalk. It’s an affordable housing issue as well because, and I can tell you – as a Realtor – when people can’t afford Norwalk and Stamford, they tend to go east instead of north, which increases traffic on I-95. They don’t consider going to Danbury because of the fact that Route 7 is so impossible.”

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