Connecticut Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Al Martin formally announced the Department's willingness to explore developing a 37.5 mile multi-use path within the state-owned Merritt Parkway right-of-way. Martin made the announcement when he spoke last week in Stamford to an audience of bicycle and pedestrian advocates gathered for the Fairfield County/East Coast Greenway/Bicycle & Pedestrian Summit. The trail would provide an east-west route linking existing and proposed north-south trails that connect the major cities of Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Stamford. ConnDOT had previously opposed any dedication of Parkway right-of-way for a bike/ped corridor because it might preclude future highway expansion. The publication of Regional Plan Association's 1994 "Merritt Parkway Feasibility Study" helped make the case that the trail can be constructed and should complete a crucial missing link in the East Coast Greenway. The Merritt Parkway's wide 300 foot right of way allows the construction of a pedestrian path that is a safe distance from vehicles, preserves privacy of abutting landowners, allows flexibility in locating local road crossings, and preserves the Parkway's historic elements.