MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — City leaders, Connecticut Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Mark Rolfe and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro came together to talk about a dangerous on-ramp in Middletown Wednesday and how the bipartisan infrastructure law will help speed up a project to fix it.
The on-ramp from Route 17 onto Route 9 is a short acceleration lane, meaning there is a stop sign and almost immediately cars have to merge onto the highway. If they hesitate, they are sometimes hit from behind by other cars waiting their turn to make the same move.
There have been multiple accidents, averaging around one a day.
“It is the worst, most dangerous intersection in the state of Connecticut,” said State Sen. Matt Lesser, (D) Middletown.
“Made worse by the fact that it is just adjacent to our beautiful downtown riverfront,” said Mayor Ben Florsheim, (D) Middletown.
In 2016, the state began looking at the problem and it is now moving forward with a $42.5 million project which would widen the highway over the bridge to fix the problem and extend the acceleration lane by at least 300 to 500 feet.
“The proposed work for this much needed project includes a full length, free flow acceleration lane for Route 17 traffic to merge onto Route 9 northbound,” Rolfe said.
As another part of this project, the Harbor Drive entrance ramp to Route 9 will be closed and this will become a dead end so cars can still come to the park and restaurant.
The project is now a candidate for federal funding under the new law, so it could speed up the project by a year.
“The new federal investment will ensure we complete this project by the fall of 2024, a full year earlier than originally planned,” Rolfe said.
The new law inserts $5.4 billion into the U.S. Department of Transportation over the next five years and that is up $1.6 billion over what the DOT received in a 2015 bill.
“This infrastructure bill is about jobs, jobs, jobs. It is about communities, thriving communities and the economic benefits that would develop,” DeLauro said. “It is clearly a new dawn in looking at how we direct federal resources and who are going to be the beneficiaries of the federal resources.”
In Middletown, the money may benefit the 15,000 vehicles which use the Route 17 entrance ramp onto Route 9 north each year.