A Reddit post called for the completion of a Danbury area road project. Local leaders suggested alternative routes

A Reddit post calling for the completion of “Super 7” garnered dozens of comments and a 72 percent approval rating from users earlier this month.

But local officials said the project is no longer a priority.

The project was proposed by the state between the 1950s and 1960s and envisioned a four-lane expressway connecting Route 95 in Norwalk to Interstate 84 in Danbury.

Over the years opposition mounted from residents that lived on or near Route 7 in towns like Wilton and Ridgefield, who argued that the project would pose adverse effects to the environment, property values and overall quality of life.

The state finally shelved the plan in 1993 and instead widened Route 7 in certain areas. It invested millions of dollars in upgrades to the thoroughfare in Wilton, including a major road-widening program in the late 2000s, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said.

During his time in Hartford, former state representative John Frey pushed the effort to widen Route 7 from two lanes to four between the Route 35 intersection in Ridgefield and the ramp up to I-84 in Danbury. The $62 million project was completed in fall 2011.

The Reddit chatter follows recent calls from state lawmakers to invest in Connecticut’s existing infrastructure.

In November, a group of legislators requested the state’s transportation czar earmark newly-awarded transportation money from Washington to electrify the rail connection between Danbury and South Norwalk, and to expand passenger train service on the Danbury line to Brookfield and New Milford.

The hope is to secure funding for the two rail projects out of the $5 billion coming to Connecticut’s Department of Transportation from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package.

To keep people living here, Connecticut must invest in a transportation system that improves traffic conditions as well as quality of life, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

In addition to electrifying the Danbury line, he said the federal funding should also be used to improve I-84 at the changing ramp with I-684, in Brewster, N.Y. This week Marconi met with municipal leaders from Westchester County, state transportation officials and engineers to discuss ways to alleviate traffic on those interstates.

“With technology today, people aren’t afraid to get off at any point because Siri or whoever they have whispering to them will give them their directions and tell them where to go,” he explained. As a result, “We’re all experiencing traffic increases in smaller, out-of-the-way neighborhoods.”

In terms of the state’s population, “We’re growing,” Marconi said, “and you have to take that into consideration when building transportation infrastructure.”

While the state has a couple of improvement projects already planned for Route 7, Vanderslice said officials should also consider widening the thoroughfare where it intersects with Route 33 in Wilton. She said Connecticut also needs to invest in its internet and cellular infrastructure to keep people living here, noting that many now work from home.

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito recalls his father, a former state legislator in the late ’60s and early ’70s, working on the project when the now-mayor was a kid.

There’s no easy way to get from Danbury to Norwalk, so it would have been a “real plus” if the project had happened, Esposito said.

Esposito would support the project if it were proposed today, but he’s focused on mass transportation and creating a faster train from Danbury to New York City. Initial findings from a study of the old Maybrook line suggest that’s possible, and would bring economic and environmental benefits to the region. The study is ongoing.

Marconi said he wants the state to avoid any further studies on improving its infrastructure. “We’ve done the studies, we know what we need to do — damn it, go out and do it,” he said. “We need to use the past as a lesson that will lead us to the future, and I believe that future does not include a Super 7.”

Julia Perkins and Rob Ryser contributed to this story.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com