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Route 7 History
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Route 7 History
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Route 7 Corridor Improvements

The History of Route 7

US Highway 7 was constructed between 1920 and 1928. It was officially added to the US Highway System in 1926. Most of the route through Vermont and Massachusetts is still the original route. However, pror to 1932, Route 7 was routed along Connecticut Route 41 to New York Route 22 near South Amenia. From there, Route 7 followed Route 22 southward to New York City. Around 1932, the alignment for Route 7 was shifted to its current routing to Norwalk. Prior to the completion of Interstate 95, Route 7 terminated at Route 1.

The first proposals for an expressway were introduced in the ealy 1950s, during the time when the U.S. government was planning the routes to be included in the Interstate Highway System.

By 1955, traffic on Route 7 between Danbury and Norwalk had increased to the point where congestion had led to near grdlock conditions during the morning and evwning rush hours. In the late 1950s, a $2 billion expressway from Norwalk to Burlington, Vermont was proposed, slated to become the routing for Interstate 89 when completed.

During the early 1960s the Connecticut Department of Transportation began purchasing the Right of Way for Super 7, relocating residents and either moving or demolishing homes that were in the path of the future expressway. By 1966, the DOT owned roughly 90 percent of the land necessary to build its section of Super 7 from Norwalk to the Massachusetts border.

Construction began in Norwalk in 1968, one year before the Environmental Protection Act took effect. This act established the Environmental Protection Agency, but more importantly, required all new highway construction to have an approved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In 1972, environmental groups and local opponents convinced a federal judge to impose an injunction which halted all route 7 construction beyond Route 123.

In that same year, another court ruling forced the FHWA to drop plans for Interstate 89 within the US 7 corridor. Only two segments of highway in Vermont and two in Massachusetts were constructed prior to this ruling.

In 1974 construction of the Brookfield section began north of I-84 in northern Danbury and extended 4 miles to its current terminus at Federal Road, just south of Brookfield Center. Local opposition and lack of funds stopped the expressway here, at least temporarily.

In 1980, the injunction on construction in Norwalk was lifted when the DOT presented an EIS for the Norwalk-Danbury section which was determined to be acceptable by a federal court judge.

However, due to economic recession in the early 1980s, construction did not resume until 1988. Once it did restart, the Route 7 expressway was extended for 2.5 miles from Route 123, to Grist Mill Road near the Norwalk-Wilton town line. But another recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s forced the cancellation or delay of several major highway projects in Connecticut. Planned expressways for Routes 25 and 34 were cancelled due to lack of funds, and proposals for Routes 7 and 11 were delayed indefinitely.

In 1998 the DOT announced plans to extend the Route 7 Expressway from Federal Road in Brookfield to Route 202 at the New Milford town line, bypassing Brookfield Center to the west. From the New Milford town line to New Milford Center, the DOT presented its proposal to widen the existing road to 4 lanes with a median.

In December 1999 the DOT officially cancelled the Norwalk to Danbury section of expressway, while keeping a possible expressway extension to Route 33 in Wilton on the drawing board. In exchange, the DOT is proposing widening some (not all) sections of the existing Route 7 to four lanes, and upgrading service on the Danbury Metro North Line.

In June 2000 the DOT revised its plans for the Brookfield extension, shortening the route by a mile, and proposing a path which would displace more homes and businesses than the original. This was due to concerns made by the EPA over wetlands in the bypass' original routing.

Local support as well as support from U.S. Representative Jim Maloney and Governor Rowland pressured the DOT, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers into approving the bypass' 1998 routing.