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Improving I-95 in eastern Connecticut

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Final report details ways to improve I-95 in eastern Conn.

By STEPHEN SINGER Associated Press Writer | January 12, 2005

HARTFORD, Conn. - Transportation planners, hoping to turn attention to traffic problems in eastern Connecticut's shoreline areas, released a study Tuesday that identified proposed improvements in ramps, interchanges and other parts of Interstate 95.

Much of the attention on the state's traffic-choked highways has focused on large population areas and business centers of Fairfield County in southwestern Connecticut and the intersection of interstates 91 and 84 in central Connecticut. But planners say long-term projections of motorists headed to the state's beaches and other playgrounds also must be addressed.

The cost would be $1.6 billion if all changes recommended in the two-year, 236-page study are fully funded for the 58-mile stretch of highway from Branford to the Connecticut-Rhode Island state line, said Jim Andrini, transportation supervising planner at the state Transportation Department.

But he said state officials realize full funding is next to impossible.

"There's no way this report is a request for that amount of money," Andrini said. "In the real world we know there's a tremendous amount of competition."

A more realistic dollar amount that would finance modest changes would cost about $44 million, Andrini said. "That's a fairly palatable amount of funding," he said.

Improving acceleration and deceleration lanes, upgrading deficient intersections and making minor improvements in traffic at lights at the end of ramps "could take a more moderate amount of money and make a difference," he said.

As much as 90 percent of the money would be from Washington, he said. Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation will likely sort through federal funding priorities in the spring, said a spokesman for Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn.

Basic recommendations in the study include improving the capacity of I-95 and providing for future growth by widening lanes, providing a third lane, extending shoulders and reconfiguring ramps.

State officials have been vexed by Connecticut's transportation problems for years. Lawmakers are under pressure from constituents who are frequently jammed in traffic and business officials who complain about attracting employees. They've been trying to figure out ways to improve traffic throughout the state.

The report released Tuesday by the state Transportation Department focuses on areas heavily traveled by tourists and state residents who head to and from recreational areas in southeastern Connecticut such as Hamonassett State Park, Mystic Seaport, Rocky Neck State Park, Harkness Memorial, Mohegan Sun Casino, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Rhode Island beaches and Cape Cod, Mass.

In addition, all segments of the much-used highway provide key links in the Northeast between New York and Boston and a national artery from Maine to Florida.

The state Transportation Strategy Board has urged state legislators to find ways to raise between $200 million and $300 million a year over 10 years to pay for long-term transportation improvements.

"The big issue isn't priorities," board Chairman R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel said. "The big issue is whether there is any money to do anything."

On the Net: http://www.i95southeastct.org

From The Cape Cod Times

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And to think that the internal combustion engine is over 100 years old, when are we going to enter the next dynamic of transportation and ditch the IC engine, what else do we use everyday that is 100-150 year old technology????

I know I am a proponent of some interstate extensions that make sense and relieve congestion for the little people but to look at the full scope of this project just makes me wish we could walk into a jetsons cartoon--remember when that was the "next big thing" how Oil and Auto companies can keep us in 1893 is amazing!

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At least the I-95 Southeast CT website has some pictures of trains on it.

The eastern section of I-95 is rather substandard and could be upgraded, it doesn't necessarily need an extra lane through the whole stretch, but it is two lanes all the way into New Haven. The western section though with 3-4 lanes is even worse. I refuse to drive on it, and hop on the Merritt Parkway just west of New Haven.

I-95 was originally the Connecticut Turnpike and was designed for local service with numerous on and off ramps. Poor design for the highspeed travel we have today.

Amtrak service still needs to improve in the region, it's still not cost competative to (heavily subsidised) air travel between Boston and New York. Shoreline East service and MBTA commuter rail need to meet in Rhode Island as well to facilitate local rail travel.

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^^ didn't mean to rain on the parade there, I am usually a big booster of a few more lanes, a 10 mile extension, a loop for the burbs, but the enormity of the whole national interstate/freeway web and the maintence and the fact that it just brings more traffic as soon as you finish an improvement. I think CT is deserving as any other state when it comes to expressways but when you take the nation as a whole it just makes you wonder why not more walkable communities or something better then the IC engine. I guess when our priorities as a nation can change a little those trains on stretchs of 95 will become a more common site, here's hoping to that. ;)

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^^ didn't mean to rain on the parade there, I am usually a big booster of a few more lanes, a 10 mile extension, a loop for the burbs, but the enormity of the whole national interstate/freeway web and the maintence and the fact that it just brings more traffic as soon as you finish an improvement. I think CT is deserving as any other state when it comes to expressways but when you take the nation as a whole it just makes you wonder why not more walkable communities or something better then the IC engine. I guess when our priorities as a nation can change a little those trains on stretchs of 95 will become a more common site, here's hoping to that. ;)

Why don't they try to put tolls in on all highways in the state like they had on 95 and 395? I barely remember seeing them routinely from the back seat of my parents car. It's too bad. People would be discouraged from using the highways and the state could make some extra money (hopefully for mass transit), much of which would be from out of state drivers.

I'm no expert, but a lot of states in the Megalopolis use tolls so I'm assuming the traffic on these roads generates enough revenue to offset the lost highway funding. Widening I-95, along with finishing partially built highways in SE CT are essential for both the safety and economic viability of the area. Why not finish routes 2 and 2a and put in some tolls to charge out of state casino goers who don't stop anywhere else?

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Wasn't Connecticut actually losing money on the I-95 tolls, and thats why they took them down?

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They took out the tolls in the mid-80s due to a series of fatal accidents @ the plazas. There was an accident at the Stratford Plaza that killed a number of women and children. An 18 wheeler slammed into the line of cars waiting to pay. An EZ Pass system would reduce the likelyhood of that happening again. I am all for tolls in CT if it means we can improve the transportation network. Don't limit the toll money to road construction, it should be allowed for mass transit as well.

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I-95 in eastern CT isn't anywhere near as bad as it is in central CT. hopefully the construction in the branford/east haven/new haven areas will make it better, but i'm not so sure on that... especially once they start doing bridge work in new haven.

eastern CT only has a lot of traffic on holidays and weekends in the summer. the biggest problems occur around east lyme/waterford approaching 395. that's actually where i totalled my car about a year ago on easter sunday. of course that was more due to the girl, who was trying to do 80 weaving in and out of traffic when everyone else was doing 45, hitting me from behind while trying to change lanes.

i think 95 should be 3 lanes between new haven and right through guilford. and then there should be a third exit only lane for about 1-2 miles before 395 branches off. it would also be nice if they could re-work the 395 interchange so that it branches off from the right instead of the left. i think that would alleviate some of those problems. the beach traffic is something we'll always have to deal with, but i don't think it's justification for a third lane the whole way. they did improve the section through new london with a third lane, but driving west it get a bit tough with the right lane ending. i think that should be extended a bit, maybe to the next exit and turn into exit only.

i do agree that CT should bring back tolls for at least 95 and 84, but maybe also 395 and 91, and i think RI should get tolls on 95 and 195. too many people use the highways to cut through the states causing lots of wear and tear on the roads, but bringing no money to the states in any way by staying overnight in a hotel, buying gas, staying with friends, eating at restaurants, etc. they could easily accept EZ pass, which most people in ffld county and the western part of new haven county have anyways (i have it because it makes traveling to philly easy). a lot of RI'ers have it as well for the mass pike. and it would bring more money for the states, not only for roads, but also mass transit, and hopefully get people to drive less.

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I-95 in eastern CT isn't anywhere near as bad as it is in central CT. hopefully the construction in the branford/east haven/new haven areas will make it better, but i'm not so sure on that... especially once they start doing bridge work in new haven.

eastern CT only has a lot of traffic on holidays and weekends in the summer. the biggest problems occur around east lyme/waterford approaching 395. that's actually where i totalled my car about a year ago on easter sunday. of course that was more due to the girl, who was trying to do 80 weaving in and out of traffic when everyone else was doing 45, hitting me from behind while trying to change lanes.

i think 95 should be 3 lanes between new haven and right through guilford. and then there should be a third exit only lane for about 1-2 miles before 395 branches off. it would also be nice if they could re-work the 395 interchange so that it branches off from the right instead of the left. i think that would alleviate some of those problems. the beach traffic is something we'll always have to deal with, but i don't think it's justification for a third lane the whole way. they did improve the section through new london with a third lane, but driving west it get a bit tough with the right lane ending. i think that should be extended a bit, maybe to the next exit and turn into exit only.

i do agree that CT should bring back tolls for at least 95 and 84, but maybe also 395 and 91, and i think RI should get tolls on 95 and 195. too many people use the highways to cut through the states causing lots of wear and tear on the roads, but bringing no money to the states in any way by staying overnight in a hotel, buying gas, staying with friends, eating at restaurants, etc. they could easily accept EZ pass, which most people in ffld county and the western part of new haven county have anyways (i have it because it makes traveling to philly easy). a lot of RI'ers have it as well for the mass pike. and it would bring more money for the states, not only for roads, but also mass transit, and hopefully get people to drive less.

I have EZ Pass as well as I travel up and down the entire coast pretty frequently. It's convenient and I don't think I would even know what to do if I had to stop at the tolls the old fashioned way. I would loose my mind.

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I-95 isn't as bad as I-84 in Waterbury, either. Both of those interstates are outrageously congested. Every time I use 95 (via 395) to get to Westbrook or something it's congested. From what I hear, a big problem in Mass is people just use alternate roads like the one that runs paralel to the pike near Boston. I say put tolls on every expressway (and the merrit parkway), raise the speed limits on local state roads (good luck on that one), and increase enforcement.

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I-95 isn't as bad as I-84 in Waterbury, either. Both of those interstates are outrageously congested. Every time I use 95 (via 395) to get to Westbrook or something it's congested. From what I hear, a big problem in Mass is people just use alternate roads like the one that runs paralel to the pike near Boston. I say put tolls on every expressway (and the merrit parkway), raise the speed limits on local state roads (good luck on that one), and increase enforcement.

tolls on teh merritt would also be a good idea, but only between NY state and the connector in milford that runs to 95. i doubt that'd happen though. there are no tolls on the hutchinson in NY.

i think you're talking about rt 9 near boston. it basically runs parallel to the pike all the way from worcester. there are roads like that in almost every state (rt 3 in new hampshire, rt 1 in CT). the only time those roads really pay off is when there's congestion on the highway. but many times, if that's the case, those roads are worse because you have to deal with traffic lights and people using htem to get around the highway traffic.

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I-95 could have used a third land thru Guilford, we've yet to see the real benefit of the added land in Branford due to all the construction in East Haven. The design of I-95 thru East Haven is horrible, they didn't leave any room for future expansion, nevermind the fact that it should have been three lanes to begin with. The real problem with I-95 in Connecticut is that there are too many exits on it. The entire southern half of the state uses it as Main St. Highways were intended for long distance travel, not hop on for three exits and hop off. Poor sight lines and limited exit lanes make for a traffic mess. Exits in East Lyme throw you onto the highway in the same space that people going 80 are trying to get off it. This is why slow downs occur. It occurs all over this state. The exit for Route 2 @ I-395 is a prime example of this, it's a tight cloverleaf with absolutely no room for movement. My father-in-law (from Memphis) swears that we have the worst roads in the country. In order to fix the problems with I-95 in eastern CT the state needs to improve the on/off ramp situation and sync the traffic signals @ the bottom of the off ramps. However, I do believe that there should be a coordinated effort by all eastern CT communities along 95 to come up with a backup to I-95 in the summer. If there is an accident, the highway turns into a parking lot for miles and miles. Route 1 is too congested to begin with, it cannot be expected to handle the overflow alone. ITS traffic management needs to be implemented in order to warn people as far away as New Haven and Providence that there is potentially a problem in SE CT. The left hand exit for I-395 North from I-95 North will be eliminated when Route 11 is completed from Salem to Waterford. The exit will move to the right side of the highway, eliminating the slow down @ that location. RI is not going to add a third lane to the CT state line, they'd be better off finishing the expressway from 295 to 395 in CT (would have helped a lot more when I was @ PC). As for the EZ Pass, there is no reason anyone with a car in the Northeast shouldn't have one. Why wait @ a toll if you really don't have to.

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Between New Haven and Providence needs to be at least 6 lanes (3 each way) with full left & right shoulders provided. The only well-built interstate in CT is I-84 between Mass and the Manchester area (east of Hartford) otherwise, the CT interstates are a joke! I dont understand why any real improvements are ever made along their interstates & freeways to improve safety and to top it off, the gas prices are really high so in return your getting substandard DOT maintained limited access highways.

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As for the EZ Pass, there is no reason anyone with a car in the Northeast shouldn't have one. Why wait @ a toll if you really don't have to.

Livin in the SE corner of CT I don't get out enough to really need it. The furthest I'd usually go is Providence and only use tolls a few times a year.

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I-95 could have used a third land thru Guilford, we've yet to see the real benefit of the added land in Branford due to all the construction in East Haven. The design of I-95 thru East Haven is horrible, they didn't leave any room for future expansion, nevermind the fact that it should have been three lanes to begin with. The real problem with I-95 in Connecticut is that there are too many exits on it. The entire southern half of the state uses it as Main St. Highways were intended for long distance travel, not hop on for three exits and hop off. Poor sight lines and limited exit lanes make for a traffic mess. Exits in East Lyme throw you onto the highway in the same space that people going 80 are trying to get off it. This is why slow downs occur. It occurs all over this state. The exit for Route 2 @ I-395 is a prime example of this, it's a tight cloverleaf with absolutely no room for movement. My father-in-law (from Memphis) swears that we have the worst roads in the country. In order to fix the problems with I-95 in eastern CT the state needs to improve the on/off ramp situation and sync the traffic signals @ the bottom of the off ramps. However, I do believe that there should be a coordinated effort by all eastern CT communities along 95 to come up with a backup to I-95 in the summer. If there is an accident, the highway turns into a parking lot for miles and miles. Route 1 is too congested to begin with, it cannot be expected to handle the overflow alone. ITS traffic management needs to be implemented in order to warn people as far away as New Haven and Providence that there is potentially a problem in SE CT. The left hand exit for I-395 North from I-95 North will be eliminated when Route 11 is completed from Salem to Waterford. The exit will move to the right side of the highway, eliminating the slow down @ that location. RI is not going to add a third lane to the CT state line, they'd be better off finishing the expressway from 295 to 395 in CT (would have helped a lot more when I was @ PC). As for the EZ Pass, there is no reason anyone with a car in the Northeast shouldn't have one. Why wait @ a toll if you really don't have to.

driving between branford and new haven is some of the worst highway i've ever driven (i used to live in branford). the construction isn't helping matters, but the third lane that's been opened in branford on the eastbound side has actually helped. it allows traffic to spread out more when it reaches branford (for some reason there was always a hold up at the saltonstall bridge on the east haven/branford line.

i agree, the rt 2 exit in norwich is a beotch. while they fixed up rt 2 nicely, they didn't change 395 at all.

unfortunately, there is no road along 95 that works as an overflow other than rt 1. there shouldn't have to be. but there also shouldn't be so much backed up traffic all the time. i think that part of the state should have toll booths setup like those on the garden state where you go through them every so often in the middle of the highway. that'll help filter traffic better and spread it out more. it'll build up at the toll booth a bit, but once it passes through, it'll be better. for that to work, i think it needs to be a 3 lane highway though.

there is one issue i have with highways in RI... the rt 4/95 interchange. when 4 splits off at exit 9, the highway becomes 2 lanes from 4. the left 2 lanes in that part should be exit only lanes with the right 2 lanes staying 95. having the right lane end adds to the congestion there. additionally, they could use a 3rd lane through exit 7 or 6 because the traffic does continue through those exits, and will be worse once that shopping area in coventry is finished.

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I agree with you on the extened lane to the Centre of New England, it will only get more congested as the sprawl grows. The vast majority of traffic on I-95 in SE CT in the summer is people driving between the Cape and the Tri-State area, if there was an incident closing the highway in SE CT, drivers in New Haven could shoot up 91 to 84 to get to Mass, likewise, coming back from the Cape one could do the same thing, or take 6 to 395 to avoid far SE CT.

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I agree with you on the extened lane to the Centre of New England, it will only get more congested as the sprawl grows. The vast majority of traffic on I-95 in SE CT in the summer is people driving between the Cape and the Tri-State area, if there was an incident closing the highway in SE CT, drivers in New Haven could shoot up 91 to 84 to get to Mass, likewise, coming back from the Cape one could do the same thing, or take 6 to 395 to avoid far SE CT.

that's the reason that i like the idea of tolls in CT and RI. since so much summer traffic (or even other traffic) is from people just cutting through causing a lot of wear and congestion, it would bring money to the state. i give money to NY, NJ, and PA everytime i visit my fiancee in philly. i give money to MA everytime i drive down the pike. why shouldn't the people from NY, NJ, and MA give money to CT or RI when they just drive through?

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Why don't they try to put tolls in on all highways in the state like they had on 95 and 395? I barely remember seeing them routinely from the back seat of my parents car. It's too bad. People would be discouraged from using the highways and the state could make some extra money (hopefully for mass transit), much of which would be from out of state drivers.

I'm no expert, but a lot of states in the Megalopolis use tolls so I'm assuming the traffic on these roads generates enough revenue to offset the lost highway funding. Widening I-95, along with finishing partially built highways in SE CT are essential for both the safety and economic viability of the area. Why not finish routes 2 and 2a and put in some tolls to charge out of state casino goers who don't stop anywhere else?

You can't put tolls on INTERSTATE Highways. :)

Wasn't Connecticut actually losing money on the I-95 tolls, and thats why they took them down?

FATAL accident at a toll booth on I95 took the Toll (pun) on TOLLS in Connecticut.

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You can't put tolls on INTERSTATE Highways. :)

why not? I-90 in MA has one. i believe the I stands for INTERSTATE. I-95 in CT used to have them. the I stands for the same thing. I-95 in jersey has them (the NJ turnpike is 95 for the first part). i believe there are tolls on I-78 and I-476 in PA. again, both interstate highways (although i could be wrong on those, my memory isn't the best because i drove a lot of roads in PA when i took those). and there are tolls on I-95 in ME and I-93 in NH.

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I-95 & I-395 were built as the CONNECTICUT TURNPIKE, not interstates, tolls were there, they could be returned. 2A is not an interstate highway, they should toll that road, give locals a discount program like East Boston residents recieve. The roads could also be leased to private companies, like they did with the Chicago Skyway, the companies then make improvements to the roads and charge tolls. Horrible to make a joke about women and children dying at a toll booth.

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why not? I-90 in MA has one. i believe the I stands for INTERSTATE. I-95 in CT used to have them. the I stands for the same thing. I-95 in jersey has them (the NJ turnpike is 95 for the first part). i believe there are tolls on I-78 and I-476 in PA. again, both interstate highways (although i could be wrong on those, my memory isn't the best because i drove a lot of roads in PA when i took those). and there are tolls on I-95 in ME and I-93 in NH.

You can put tolls on them, you just lose your highway funding for doing so. Judging by the fact that so many Northeastern states have tolls, I'd say traffic is high enough on these roads to justify tolls.

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why not? I-90 in MA has one. i believe the I stands for INTERSTATE. I-95 in CT used to have them. the I stands for the same thing. I-95 in jersey has them (the NJ turnpike is 95 for the first part). i believe there are tolls on I-78 and I-476 in PA. again, both interstate highways (although i could be wrong on those, my memory isn't the best because i drove a lot of roads in PA when i took those). and there are tolls on I-95 in ME and I-93 in NH.

I'm not sure but I've heard that you can't -- the Maine Turnpike, New Hampshire turnpike -- along with the Mass turnpike -- were grandfathered in. EZ Pass is another way of checking where you car is...I won't use it in Florida.

JimS

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You can put tolls on them, you just lose your highway funding for doing so. Judging by the fact that so many Northeastern states have tolls, I'd say traffic is high enough on these roads to justify tolls.

if traffic is high enough to justify them on the mass pike and 93 in NH, then traffic is way more than enough to justify them on 95 in CT.

I'm not sure but I've heard that you can't -- the Maine Turnpike, New Hampshire turnpike -- along with the Mass turnpike -- were grandfathered in. EZ Pass is another way of checking where you car is...I won't use it in Florida.

JimS

the connecticut turnpike isn't grandfathered in or did they lose that because they got rid of the tolls?

last i checked, ez pass isn't monitored by the state, it's monitored by a private company.

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if traffic is high enough to justify them on the mass pike and 93 in NH, then traffic is way more than enough to justify them on 95 in CT.

Lets have another FETAL ACCIDENT at the TOLL....Connecticut was sued once.

JimS

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Lets have another FETAL ACCIDENT at the TOLL....Connecticut was sued once.

JimS

if people don't know how to stop at a toll, why is it the state's fault?

and your tasteless jokes are not appreciated here.

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