·         Why is the Department of Transportation conducting this study?

For many years, trail advocates have asked the Department of Transportation to make use of the extra right-of-way to the south of the Merritt Parkway for a trail.  In 2010, the Department submitted a grant application to the National Scenic Byways Program for the purpose of exploring the feasibility of such a trail.  The grant was approved in April 2011 and funds became available in October 2011. This inclusive study enables an informed judgment on the feasibility of a multi-use trail through the Merritt Parkway corridor. 

·         How long will the study take?

The grant the Department received called for an 18-month study that will end with the preparation of an Environmental Assessment document.  The study will include a series of public workshops and meetings before and after a conceptual design for a trail is prepared.

·         If is determined that the trail will be built, when would construction begin and how long would it take?

Before construction could begin, there would be a complete design development undertaken, including rights-of-way and permitting processes, and preparation of a construction cost estimate.   Funding would need to be acquired. It is difficult to predict how long this process could take or how long it would take to complete construction; however, it is likely that the trail would have to be built in sections instead of constructing all 37.5 miles under one project, possibly taking many years due to funding and other limitations. 

·         What would be the surface material of the trail?

The material is not known at this time. More than likely, it will be a combination of hard and soft at different areas depending on terrain.

·         Would the trail be for (advanced) bike riders only?

No, the trail would be designed to accommodate and be available to a variety of users.  This includes bicycle traffic of all skill levels, pedestrians, etc.  The study will also examine if sections of the trail could accommodate equestrians. 

Regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be considered in the feasibility study.  

·         Who would maintain the trail?

The Department does not have the resources to maintain such a trail.  With existing trails, the towns that the trails pass though often assume the daily maintenance while the DOT has handled the capital maintenance (such as repaving), but this will need to be reviewed during the study.  All possibilities, including such options as a public-private partnership, will be explored. 

·         How would side roads be crossed?

Most crossings are currently envisioned to be at-grade.  However, some situations will present greater challenges and other methods may have to be explored (i.e. tunnels under or bridges over the cross streets).  Each crossing will be reviewed during this study.

·         Would the trail use local roads?

Given the topography of the Merritt Parkway corridor, it may not be feasible to design a trail along some sections, due to wetlands, rock outcrops, grade changes, etc.  It is likely that certain sections of trail would have to be on local roads.  In addition, at most of the interchanges, some travel on the intersecting roads would likely be needed. At this time, it is not known which sections will be impassable or which roads will be utilized.  Additionally, it is not known how upgrades to the local road system would be handled. 

·         Would there be lighting along the trail?

The Merritt Parkway is not illuminated.  In keeping with the existing character, a trail would not be lit.  However, the use of small lights or reflectors may be considered for safety reasons to delineate the edges of the trail.

·         Where would parking for the trail be located?

It is expected that the existing Park and Ride lots, whose peaks are normally during the week and not on weekends when a trail would likely be most heavily used, would be utilized for a trail.  It is possible that additional parking may be provided by nearby businesses that may have surplus spaces.  The possibility of building new surface lots will also be discussed during the study process.