WNPR

Motorist Deaths On Merritt Parkway Could Lead To Tree Cutbacks

Mar 16, 2018

Following the death of a man on the Merritt Parkway this month, officials say more tree trimming alongside state highways is needed.

Connecticut's nearly back-to-back nor'easters this month caused lots of problems on state roads.

“The last couple snowstorms have been devastating in terms of the trees down,” said James Redeker, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation. “Two storms ago, we had over 50 roads -- state highways -- closed, for almost a day, because of the trees down.”

Those were mostly secondary roads, but in early March, state police said a driver on the Merritt Parkway was killed when a tree fell on his car during a severe rain and wind storm.

“We’ve seen on the Merritt Parkway, 10 people dying every three years,” Redeker said. “No other state roadway that does that. This densely treed roadway has had an impact on fatalities.”

Redeker said residents shouldn’t expect an immediate massive clear cut on the highway, but told members of the Environment Committee on Friday cutbacks will have to happen. He said work would be done in conjunction with local conservation groups.

“I have not yet had a meeting -- but I think we’re going to have a meeting on the Merritt Parkway and what we need to do this year,” Redeker said. “Something will happen, I can’t tell you what it is yet, but when we do, we’ll let you know.”