On Sept. 24 of last year I joined local leaders and christened part of the Wilton section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. Nearly one year later, another milestone has been reached. The routing study has been finished with helpful input from our residents, planning organizations and business leaders.

The $180,000 federal grant for the NRVT paid for the study and has enabled us to be well on our way to linking all of our communities together in a way that benefits the entire region.

This has been a dream in the making since the 1990s. What is particularly beneficial is that in building this trail a deal of consideration was given to the needs and desires of the people who live here and complements ongoing efforts to upgrade and improve transportation and mass transit in our part of the state.

It's important to note we worked very hard in Hartford to remove language in statute that prohibited the use of this land for any other purpose than a superhighway. This allowed for the greenway project to be jumpstarted, but also leaves the land available for future roadway uses should the need and support be there in future years.

Special credit goes to the leadership of Pat Sesto, director of Environmental Affairs for Town of Wilton and chairman of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, for applying for the federal grant on behalf of the steering committee of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, which includes members representing Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Danbury.

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I also would like to thank Governor Jodi Rell and the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection for interest in the project and their assistance in guiding the grant request through the federal process.

The proposed NRVT will provide a 27-mile route for cyclists, hikers, and walkers from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk north to Danbury. NRVT will connect to rail stations, schools and offices, offering clean, green transportation as well as recreational opportunities.

Two miles of the trail have been completed in Norwalk and Wilton. The balance of the trail is currently in the active study and design phase. It is hoped that major portions can be completed over the next five years.

Working together for the greater good of our region has gotten us this far and, I am certain, will help us see the Norwalk River Valley Trail through to completion. The many volunteers dedicated to building this trail, along with the municipal officials, legislators, and others who continue to work so hard on this project are to be commended.

As a ranking member of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee I am committed to this project and others like the M-8 rail cars that Governor Rell also supported -- all of these initiatives will benefit our region for years to come.

State Sen. Toni Boucher represents the 26th District.