Offering new way to relieve congestion on I-95, Conn. governor warns of consequences for failing to act

Connecticut I-95 congestion

Amid a debate over funding needed for highway projects, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Commissioner James P. Redeker have outlined the consequences of failing to act on much-needed improvements for congested Interstate 95.

To that end, they’ve now released the findings of a study on the impact of widening and improving both the western and eastern portions of Interstate 95 in Connecticut. It provides a new option.

“CTDOT is excited to announce that after a detailed study of options for relieving congestion on I-95, we are able to report a stunning set of findings,”  Redeker says.

“For years, the accepted thinking was that the only way to relieve congestion on I-95 was to add a lane in each direction from border to border. After a detailed study of alternatives, we have determined that strategic, directional widening on I-95 between New Haven and New York can significantly reduce congestion and can be built within existing CTDOT right of way.

“Similar strategic, localized investments can also reduce congestion between New Haven and Rhode Island. These findings indicate that we can achieve congestion relief through strategic and much less costly investments far sooner than previously thought.”

Peak morning and evening congestion on the highway accounts for 54 million hours of delay and costs $1.2 billion in lost time annually, the governor’s office says.. The study finds that limited, strategic widening will yield major benefits and can be constructed within existing CTDOT property.

Redeker says that the return on these investments would far exceed the cost of the projects and would support economic growth.

The governor’s revenue proposal – which includes a seven-cent increase in the gas tax over four years and the implementation of electronic tolling – would allow for these investments to go forward, the commissioner and some other state officials say.

“Anyone who has traveled on I-95 during rush hour understands the urgency of addressing our congestion problems,” Governor Malloy says in a press release. “It hurts our economy. Every day, commuters spend hours in traffic and businesses face unnecessary burdens in getting products to market. The report released today outlines a commonsense path toward reducing congestion and improving safety on one of our busiest and most important roads.”

Among other findings, the report notes that just one of the projects proposed – adding one northbound lane between exits 19 and 28 – would reduce travel time from the New York border to Bridgeport from 63 minutes – if no improvements are made – to 41 minutes during weekday afternoon peak times. However, the Governor warned that without legislative action this session to shore up the Special Transportation Fund (STF), this type of investment will be impossible.

“These improvements shouldn’t be seen as optional,” Governor Malloy adds. “But without new revenue to stabilize the Special Transportation Fund, critical projects like the I-95 widening will not be possible.”

The I-95 widening projects were included in the $4.3 billion in projects canceled or suspended by the CTDOT in January because of long-term failure to adequately fund the STF.

To download the findings of CTDOT’s study to widen I-95 in Connecticut, click here.