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Will Hartford’s I-84/I-91 Ever Be Fixed?

April 25, 2017 By Staff
Will Hartford’s I-84/I-91 Ever Be Fixed?

While Hartford's interchange has yet to move past talks, the state has found hundreds of millions for new projects like CTfastrak or money for state employee raises.

Connecticut’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is floating several plans to address Hartford’s I-84/I-91 interchange nightmare. From the Hartford Courant this morning:

A proposal to realign the interchange out of the city and cap I-91 along the Connecticut River could result in the city gaining about 45 acres of new green space and 150 acres of development potential, according to urban designer Mitch Glass of the planning firm Goody Clancy, part of the state’s management team for the I-84 Hartford project.

Infrastructure has been a political buzzword in Connecticut for a long time. In 2014, Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT) launched “Let’s Go CT,” proposing a 30-year, $100 billion plan to upgrade, repair and modernize Connecticuts infrastructure.

Advocates for a Hartford-style “big dig” have for decades pled with state leaders to bury I-84, and ideally I-91, so that the city can reclaim huge swaths of land and eliminate physical barriers that have divided Hartford for generations:

Hartford had it especially bad. I-91 cut the city off from the river and flattened the vibrant Front Street neighborhood. I-84 neatly divided the city in two, and walled off the north end from downtown. The Whitehead Highway covered over the flood-prone Park River, but turned downtown into a peninsula almost completely surrounded by seas of asphalt. Try to get out of downtown without crossing over or under a highway. You’ll see what I mean.

In 2016, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) called for $10 billion to be set aside for a “bold plan” to deal with Hartford’s interchange, but state transportation officials in June rejected plans:

State transportation officials have studied the idea of a tunnel to replace the aging I-84 viaduct in Hartford, but they have rejected it in June as too costly at an estimated $10 billion.

All efforts to address Hartford’s interchange have yet to move past talks. While the state has found hundreds of millions of dollars for new projects like CTfastrak or money for state employee raises, officials can’t seem find the money or political will to address a decades-long problem.