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Route 7 Corridor Improvements

Our Highway System Could Not Handle a Mass Evacuation if a Major Catastrophe Stikes

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 brought a harsh reality to Americans that America is vulnerable to large-scale attacks. With the threat of additional terrorist attacks, many communities, states and the federal government are developing contingency plans should a large-scale emergency occur where people must be evacuated in a short period of time.

The lack of an expressway linking Norwalk and Danbury, and an overburdened highway network in southwest Connecticut raises a new reason to support completing the Route 7 Expressway between Norwalk and New Milford: Should there be a large-scale emergency, whether it be a terrorist attack, a catastrophic storm, or some other disaster, the existing highway system would not be able to handle a mass evacuation. The construction of a north-south link between I-84 in Danbury and I-95 in Norwalk would be crucial in potentially saving thousands of lives should a catastrophic event occur that forces the evacuation of a large area within southwest Connecticut. It is unfortunate that many people who perish in disasters such as hurricanes or blizzards do so while stranded on gridlocked roads during evacuations.
While major catastrophes are not frequent in Connecticut, they do occur nontheless. The most recent being the March 1993 Superstorm, where 250 people died (5 from Connecticut). A good number of these died when they became stranded on the highway in the blizzard. Prior to that, there was Hurricane Gloria in 1985, the 1955 floods, and the 1938 hurricane, and so on.
The September 11 attacks have raised awareness to the necessity of adequate evacuation routes. Since the attacks, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made completing the Route 11 Expressway in eastern Connecticut a top priority. This is because the of the Millstone nuclear power plants in Waterford, and should an emergency occur where evacuations are necessary, the Route 11 Expressway will be a crucial evacuation route.

While there are no nuclear power plants in southwest Connecticut, the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York lies less than 30 miles from Connecticut's border. That places much of Fairfield County within the 50 mile immediate danger region should a nuclear accident occur. Furthermore, considering that the prevailing winds blow from west to east in our region, Fairfield County would be downwind of the plant, and thus receive a significant portion of fallout radiation during a nuclear accident. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO EVACUATE NEARLY 1 MILLION PEOPLE IN A VERY SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME in the event of a major nuclear accident or some other catastrophic event. The current road network in Fairfield County CANNOT HANDLE DAILY RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC, let alone a mass evacuation of nearly 1 million people in an immediate life or death situation. The proposed Route 7 Expressway, along with upgraded Interstate 84 and 95, as well as constructing an expressway in the Route 25/Route 34 corridor will also be crucial evacuation routes should the necessity arise.