State Invites Comment on Draft Four-Year $3.9 Billion Transportation Program

Plan includes redesigns of exits at Middletown and East Lyme

The Connecticut Department of Transportation continues work on plans to remove the two traffic signals on Route 9 in Middletown, one of 223 projects included in the draft 2021 State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP.

The draft is the topic of two virtual public information meetings to be held on Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The public is also invited to review and comment on the draft program of projects, as well as Public Involvement Procedures, until Oct. 9. 

Middletown project

The Middletown project began under the Malloy administration as a way to improve safety conditions and reduce congestion along less than a mile of roadway between Exits 15 and 16 on Route 9. Crash data obtained for the location between January 2015 to December 2017 shows 313 crashes resulting in 91 injuries including one death.

Garrett Eucalitto, Deputy Commissioner of Transportation, said Friday that the project, estimated at $65 million, will require a complete traffic analysis, and that the state will invite community input to explore alternatives before holding wider public meetings. 

“When we’re this early in the process it doesn’t necessarily mean the project will come to fruition. We’re in the beginning stages and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of coordination with the City of Middletown,” Eucalitto said. “I know they’re going to schedule some COVID-safe workshop-style meetings to receive public comment and input to come up with some possible alternatives that can be analyzed before you move on to a formal public informational meeting.” 

Eucalitto said that the initial proposal could change, depending on data analysis and input from the public.

“We’re open to anything right now. We really want to see first what data is showing and then, based on travelers going through there, what is a way to ensure that we meet the city’s wishes for a cohesive community while also improving safety through that stretch,” he said. “We don’t have any alternatives proposed yet, that’s really what we want to get some input on.”

East Lyme and New London projects

The redesign of Exit 74 on I-95 at East Lyme is also included among the state’s draft program of projects, and was the subject of an information session in May 2019.

Eucalitto said that project is expected to go out to bid in February 2022, with construction starting in summer 2022.

“It’s estimated to last three to four years,” he said. “We do anticipate meeting in 2021 with town officials to share final designs.”

Three phases of a major renovation of the northbound Gold Star Bridge at New London are also included in the state’s draft plan.

Phase one entails strengthening the steel on the bridge and will cost about $65 million. Construction is expected to begin in July 2021 and finish in about March 2023. The work will not require the closure of travel lanes. 

Phase two, estimated at $110 million, will strengthen girders and is expected to take place from March 2022 to November 2024 with no impact to travel lanes.

Phase three will include replacement of the bridge deck, supports and signs as well as repair to the lighting, at a cost of about $131 million. Phase three is expected to begin in spring 2024 and finish in fall 2027 and will include lane closures. 

A mix of funding

The 223 project included in STIP are funded by $3.1 billion in federal money, $684.5 million from the state and $17 million from local municipalities.

About 60 percent of the funds, or $2.34 billion, will be used for highway and bridges projects and 40 percent, or $1.522 billion, are used for transit.

Instructions for accessing the virtual meetings are here and comments can be emailed here.

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