EAST LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — Work is officially underway to improve Interstate 95 in East Lyme. The state is reconfiguring Exit 74 and replacing the bridge over Route 161.
Top state officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning. Right now, Exit 74’s short on-ramps can be very stressful.
“You say a Hail Mary, and you get on the highway, and I’m not kidding when I say that,” State Sen. Martha Marx (D-East Lyme) said. “I will drive so far out of my way, so I don’t have to do that.”
Statistics from the Connecticut Department of Transportation show people are right to avoid the area.
“Over a three-year period, we had nearly 200 crashes on I-95 and Route 161, resulting in over 50 injuries,” Garrett Eucalitto, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner, said.
However, it’s about to get better. A major project is underway to raise and widen roadways and realign ramps to make getting on and off the highway easier. It will cost close to $150 million. Officials said 87% of that is federal funding.
“Thanks to the infrastructure bill passed on a bipartisan basis down in Washington, it was transformative for a state like Connecticut that has a lot of old infrastructure,” Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn) said.
On average, 67,000 cars cross the I-95 bridge over Route 161, or Flanders Road, daily. It’s been on a list of state bridges in “poor condition” for years.
Area businesses are booming, and the state wants the highway upgrade to keep the economic development going. Transportation committee members see this as one of many improvements made possible with funding from Washington.
“We have a strong package in front of us this year that will make sure we are taking advantage of every single opportunity that the federal funding provides,” Transportation Committee Co-Chair and Democratic State Rep. Roland Lemar.
Traffic will get worse before it gets better, but the construction is expected to be done by the spring of 2027.