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Route 7 Corridor Improvements

The Process of Building an Expressway

The design and construction of the Route 7 Expressway between Danbury and Norwalk, and the Brookfield Bypass consist of a complex procedure prior to actual construction. This page outlines how an expressway is constructed: from the initial planning to the final coat of asphalt.

1. Local Support

Municipalities within the Route 7 corridor must agree upon recommending an expressway within its borders. In Connecticut, regional planning agencies, which represent groups of several municipalities, must approve or recommend an expressway within its jurisdiction. The Housatinic Regional Planning Agency (which comprises Ridgefield, Danbury, Brookfield and New Milford) have recently withdrawn its support for the Route 7 Expressway, citing lengthy delays and unresolved environmental issues (The Housatonic Regional Planning Agency still supports the Brookfield Bypass). The other regional planning agency, the Southwest Regional Planning Agency (Norwalk, Wilton) voted in 2000 to continue its support for Super 7 between Nowralk and Danbury, despite objections from Wilton officials.

The recommendation of the Regional Planning Agency is then referred to the Connecticut DOT for analysis.

2. Study All Possible Alternatives

Once the Regional Planning Agency makes its recommendation, the DOT then begins to study the recommended alternative. Other alternatives are studied, so that all of the possible alternatives are made available.

3. Public Hearings

Once the DOT has studied numerous alternatives, they hold public hearings to offer the public their input on the alternatives the DOT consideres to be feasible. Public input helps the DOT gain an understanding as to which alternative the public believes to be the most desirable.

4. Environmental Impact Statement

Following the Public Hearings, the DOT then narrows its list of possible alternatives to a few, which are deemed to be most viable.

Each of the remaining alternatives are studied in detail in order to determine its impact on the surrounding environment. Things that are considered in an environmental impact statement: Direct impacts on the natural environment (wetlands, forest blocks, and terrain impacts), impact on residents and businesses, and impacts on air and water quality.

5. Submit EIS for Federal Approval

Once Environmental Impact Statements are completed for each proposed alternative, the EIS's are then submitted for review by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. If there is only one alternative proposed, then the EPA and USACOE will either approve or reject the DOT's alternative, and possibly suggest their own alternative. If more than one alternative is presented by the DOT, then the USACOE and EPA will make a decision on which alternative has the Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative (LEDPA). However, the alternative the USACOE and EPA select as LEDPA, may not necessarily be the alternative most deisred by local residents or the DOT. An example of conflicts between the USACOE's LEDPA selection and the DOT's preferred alternative is clearly depicted in the ongoing battle over the US 6 Bypass in eastern Connecticut. The DOT favors a route north of the Hop River between Manchester and Willimantic, while the EPA and USACOE support a routing south of the river.

6. Selection of the Final Alternative

Once an agreement on the LEDPA is made, the DOT, EPA, and USACOE select the final routing of the proposed expressway. More public hearings are held in order to get public feedback on the final alternative. However, unless the public attempts the challenge the final route proposal in court, the routing agreed upon by the DOT, USACOE and EPA is the one that will be selected. Some minor modifications may also be included where necessary.

7. Prepare the Final Design

Once an alternative has been selected as the porposed routing of the new expressway, the DOT will then prepare a final design. The final design will essentially be a detailed rendition of how the expressway will look once it is complete. Included are detailed specifications of the road geometry, bridge design, environmental mitigation procedures, and roadway design. Additionally, the final design includes not only numerical statistics on the road's design, but may also contain an architect's rendition of what the new expressway will look like once it is complete. Computer graphics to depect the road's appearance will be included, and computer-generated models will be used to complete the final design.

8. Obtain Permits for Construction

The final step prior to the start of construction is the acquisition of several wetlands and construction permits from the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, state and possibly local permits may be necessary prior tthe start of construction.

9. Obtain Funding

In order to build the expressway, money must be available to do so. This involves a lot of lobbying at the State and Federal levels in order to get funding approval for such capital projects. For the Route 7 Expressway, construction will be 80 percent federally funded and 20 percent state funded.

10. Open Project for Bidding

Once all the permits and funding have been secured, the project is then advertised for bids. This is where the project (or projects) specifications are made availabe for construction companies to offer their price for which they can complete the construction. The lowest bidder is awarded the contract for the project, and is given a certain number of calendar days in which the project must be completed.
Prior to the start of actual construction, the DOT makes last-minute clarifications and issues a Notice to Proceed to the construction company. The Notice to Proceed gives the contractor permission to start consturction.

Once the contractor has completed the expressway (or segment within which the contractor's project lies), the DOT makes a final inspection prior to issuing a Certificate of Completion for the project. The Certificate of Completion indicates that the project has been completed within the given time frame, with workmanship on a level of quality that meets state and federal standards.