CTDOT says ‘strategic widening’ of I-95 will reduce congestion, boost economy

Photo: CTDOTPhoto: CTDOT

A new Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) study, I-95 Strategies to Reduce Congestion, finds that, rather than taking private property to widen all of Interstate 95 to relieve congestion, the same results can be obtained with “limited, directional, and strategic widening” of portions of the interstate already held by CTDOT, the CT Mirror reports.

This would allow the widening to be done without having to take private property by eminent domain and would cost less money, although funding would still be a problem without legislative action to stabilize the state’s Special Transportation Fund.

“Anyone who has traveled on I-95 during rush hour understands the urgency of addressing our congestion problems,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said during a legislative session on February 22, 2018, according to the news agency. “It hurts our economy. Every day commuters spend hours in traffic, and businesses face unnecessary burdens in getting products to market.”

The new study found that the DOT can mitigate the congestion problem in lower Fairfield County by:

  • Adding one northbound lane between Exit 19 in Fairfield and Exit 28 in Bridgeport
  • Adding one southbound lane from Exit 7 in Stamford to the New York state line
  • Adding one northbound lane between Exit 9 in Stamford and Exit 19 in Fairfield

This would cost $2.3 billion, shave 22 minutes off the commute from the New York border to Bridgeport, and return $5 billion to the economy. Plus, it could be done mostly with property the state already owns or has right-of-way over.

The DOT is also recommending road widening in strategic segments between Branford and Old Saybrook; Old Lyme and East Lyme; and Waterford and New London. It also recommends redesigning the I-95/I-395 junction in Waterford, which would cost an additional $1.9 billion.

Malloy said the entire I-95 widening project would cost approximately $4.2 billion. The Special Transportation Fund holds approximately $1.51 billion and represents about 7 percent of the overall budget for the fiscal year. In January, the governor asked lawmakers to approve a 7-cent increase to the 25-cent-per-gallon gas tax over the next four years and establish electronic tolling on highways by 2022.

James P. Redeker, the transportation commissioner, said most of this work on the I-95 widening project would begin after 2022.