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
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.