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Brakes pumped on $5B I-84 viaduct replacement in Hartford

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Transportation is pumping the brakes on the I-84 viaduct replacement project in Hartford and thinking about taking another route.

Originally, DOT ruled out burying the highway or elevating it, but now the plans are back on the table, as well the fresh look at railbuses and pathways, to try and solve an incredible log jam.

“It’s ridiculous, there is always traffic,” said Hartford resident Stephanie Echevarria. “It’s all backed up and people are on your bumper; people are trying to go around you and use the breakdown lane in the shoulder. It’s horrible.”

DOT officials said they’re aware of the slog through the interchange at 84 and 91.

They have held a half a dozen meetings across the state with computer-generated models of what the new highway would look like through Hartford, to try and solve a problem the dates back more than 50 years.

“It was originally designed for about 55,000 vehicles per day in the 1960s,” said Rich Armstrong Former Principal Engineer, CT DOT. “Right now, we have 175,000 vehicles per day.”

So now the question is how to solve it.

DOT can either bury the highway underground, which now they’re reconsidering, keep it elevated, or bring it down to ground level and have the surface streets pass over.

The problem is, either way, it’s going to cost a lot of money and they are going to have to move a lot of infrastructures.

“Relocating a portion of the Amtrak road,” Armstrong said, “allowing us to bring the highway down from the viaduct so all the local streets will pass over the freeway.”

DOT said they are reconsidering the plans because the $60 million in repair to the viaduct will push out the lifespan of a highway 20 years, so they have more time to consider other options.

Many drivers glad they’re taking their time so they can get it right.

“It’s coming out of our pockets not their pockets, so let’s get that right,” one resident said.

“No matter how much money they spend it’s always bad, it can’t handle the flow,” another said.

Representative John Larson has been weighing in, saying maybe they should add more lanes and bury the highway as they did in Boston, it will all have a fresh set of eyes as they commission another study.

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