WATERBURY – Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday announced $1.4 million in federal funding to replace traffic signals at 10 intersections in downtown Waterbury, as a highway rehabilitation project clogs roads and forces drivers to take detours through the area.
The interchange where Route 8 and I-84 cross, also known as the Mixmaster, is currently being rehabilitated to provide 25 more years of service. As a result, many cars have had to take detours through downtown Waterbury, congesting local roads. The rehabilitation of these roads is estimated to end soon, but another project to completely replace the Mixmaster will cause heavy traffic to continue in the area, according to Waterbury Board of Alderman President Paul Pernerewski.
Waterbury resident John Henry told CT Examiner he frequently drives through the Waterbury downtown area. The traffic and frequency of red lights due to the lack of traffic signal synchronization in the region have made driving difficult, he said.
“At night, it’s kind of busy like heavy traffic on Route 8. I have to go every single day now to pick up my daughter and my neighbor’s wife from Waterbury to Route 8 North. It’s very busy,” he said.
The traffic signals in downtown Waterbury are decades old, and now new technology will enable lights to synchronize better, Blumenthal said during his announcement at City Hall. He hopes with the update of these signals, traffic will flow better and benefit pedestrians in the area.
“I am very hopeful that what’s happening here in Waterbury will provide a model for other urban areas because all across the state intersections, crossroads need better traffic signals that are synchronized and safer for pedestrians and bicycles,” Blumenthal said.
The Mixmaster interchange was designed to handle 100,000 daily motor vehicle trips in 1975. Currently, 190,000 daily motor vehicle trips a day occur along the Mixmaster. This number is expected to increase to 225,000 daily motor vehicle trips in 2045, according to the state Department of Transportation. A CT DOT analysis of the interchange has found a complete replacement would be more necessary and cost-effective than undertaking another rehabilitation project when the service life ends.