Tag Archives: I-95

Another Day. Another I-95 Accident. Another Nightmare On The Roads Of Westport.

Why is this morning different from all other mornings?

It isn’t.

An accident in Darien — Darien! — caused commuters to abandon I-95 (and the alternate Merritt Parkway route).

Backups spilled all the way to Westport. Jammed-up local streets included the Post Road, Greens Farms Road, Bridge Street, Riverside Avenue, Wilton Road, Coleytown Road, Main Street, even Parker Harding Plaza.

First selectman candidates are welcome to click “Comments” below, and let us know what — if anything — you think can be done to address this near-daily situation.

Backed-up westbound traffic on the Post Road, a few minutes ago. (Photo/Chip Stephens)

Pic Of The Day #89

The Black Duck, and I-95 (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Friday Flashback #37

Saugatuck is in the news a lot.

Consultants are devising a “Transit Oriented District” plan, to redevelop the area around the train station. There’s talk of dredging the Saugatuck River. And of course the Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge is very much in play.

Which makes this the perfect time to look at “timeless Saugatuck.”

Peter Barlow’s view of Franklin Street — heading toward Saugatuck Avenue — was taken from the brand-new Connecticut Turnpike (now I-95) overpass in 1958.

But — except for the cars — it could almost have been taken any time in the 60 years since then.

Hey. I said “almost.”

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

Toll Tales

Tolls on Connecticut highways are one step closer to reality. The legislature’s Transportation Committee recently gave the “green light” to the state Department of Transportation to begin the 4-year process of planning to reintroduce the controversial devices.

Tolls were phased out over 30 years ago on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway, following a deadly accident at the Stratford turnpike plaza. New tolls would be electronic.

Toll plazas were a familiar scene on I-95 more than 30 years ago. A proposed bill would establish electronic (E-Z Pass) tolls.

In their previous incarnation, there were tollbooths on I-95 near the Westport-Norwalk border. But they were not the first in the area.

In 1806 the state General Assembly granted a charter to the Connecticut Turnpike Company. They ran the road from Fairfield to Greenwich — today known as the Post Road.

In return for keeping the thoroughfare in “good repair,” they were allowed to establish 4 turnpike gates. One was at the Saugatuck River crossing — now known as the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

The narrow, wooden Post Road bridge, in an early 1900s postcard from Jack Whittle’s collection. Relics of the toll collection system can be seen at the bottom (east bank of the Saugatuck River.

Four-wheeled pleasure carriages drawn by 2 horses were charged 25 cents. Two-wheeled pleasure carriages drawn by one horse paid 12 cents. Each sled, sleigh, cart or wagon drawn by a horse, ox or mule was charged 10 cents.

The state granted exemptions for people traveling to attend public worship, funerals, town or freemen’s meetings; those obliged to do military duty; “persons going to and from grist mills with grists”; people living within 1 mile of the toll gates, and “farmers attending their ordinary farming business.”

However — for reasons that are unclear — those exemptions applied only to the 3 other toll gates. The Saugatuck River bridge was not included.

Astonishingly, the toll for automobiles over 150 years later was still 25 cents.

I bet that won’t be the base rate if when the new tolls are installed.

A Ducky Sunset

On Friday evening, traffic was probably heavy on I-95.

Folks at the Black Duck probably did not care.

Alert “06880” photographer Andrew Colabella captured this unique shot of both.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Bright Vs. Blight

For years, the Weston Road/Easton Road/North Main Street rotary near Exit 42 — the unofficial “Welcome to Westport” landmark for everyone coming off the Merritt Parkway — was maintained, as a public service, by Daybreak Nursery.

But when financial problems caused the nearby business to close, the triangular plot grew grungy.

Now — suddenly — the space looks gorgeous.

(Photo/Russ Miller)

(Photo/Russ Miller)

I don’t think it was a state Department of Transportation project. But huge props to whoever got it done.

Meanwhile — across town — another “Welcome to Westport” site looks decidedly less welcoming.

(Photo/Joanne Romano)

(Photo/Joanne Romano)

Just one more reason to avoid I-95, and take the Merritt.

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #63

It wasn’t pretty — last week’s photo challenge, that is.

I don’t mean the results (though only Jackie Spencer, Barbara Sherburne and — sort of — Tom Turnbull knew the answer).

I mean the photo itself. It showed the graffiti and garbage that greets anyone driving or walking underneath I-95, on Franklin Street. Click here, if for some reason you’d like to see that grody sight.

(Bonus question: Who is responsible for that property: the town? State Department of Transportation? No one seems to know.)

This week, we go back to pretty pictures. If you recognize the image below, click “Comments.”

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

 

Connecting The DOTs

When people complain about poor plowing, I’m generally ambivalent.

I don’t go full Jasper McLevy — the former Bridgeport mayor once said “God put it there, let Him take it away” — but I also don’t expect road crews to remove it all, instantly, the moment each flake hits the road.

However, an email from an alert — and very shaken — “06880” reader deserves mention. Particularly because she sent photos too.

She writes:

Conditions were icy and terrible on I-95 between 4-8 p.m. tonight.

After almost 3 hours of very slow driving (seeing numerous accidents, plus multiple cars that slid off the road), we made it from New York City to Westport.  We stopped for over an hour, hoping the roads would be treated. But no luck.

I-95 - 2- February 15, 2016

No sign of any plowing or road treatment the entire way.  The snow was light but lasted a few hours. Freezing sleet and rain worsened road conditions.

I-95 - February 15, 2016

I am curious how we can find out what safety measures were taken today, since there was no sign of road crews anywhere.

It almost seems as if the Connecticut Department of Transportation hoped tonight’s predicted rain would clean up this mess, and they could save a few dollars on plowing.

I cannot believe 95 was such a mess tonight, with relatively little snow over a period of hours.

“06880” likes to believe the best in people, and organizations. So we will not go out on a limb, and suggest that any plowing decision was influenced at all by the predicted rain.

Or the fact that today was Presidents Day — meaning holiday pay.

Comin’ Down The Pike

Turnout was low last week at Town Hall, as the Connecticut Department of Transportation unveiled plans for an I-95 bridge renovation plan that could have dramatic effects on Westport traffic.

The 2-year project — beginning in the spring of 2018, and including decking and girder replacement — would run from Norwalk’s Yankee Doodle Bridge (Exit 16) through the span high above the Saugatuck River.

It would entail lane closures (with the familiar miles of safety cones set out long before actual work), and possible rerouting of traffic along Saugatuck and Riverside Avenues, the Post Road and Sherwood Island Connector.

The specter of enormous tractor-trailers making that tight Riverside/Post Road turn is bad enough. With everyone nowadays using Waze, many drivers would instead try to use the Bridge Street/Greens Farms Road shortcut. If, that is, the Bridge Street Bridge were not being rehabilitated at the same time.

The Saugatuck River bridge, under construction in 1957. Back then, I-95 was called the Connecticut Turnpike.

The Saugatuck River bridge, under construction in 1957. Back then, I-95 was called the Connecticut Turnpike.

But wait! There’s more!

The DOT also hopes to resurface nearly 5 miles of the Merritt Parkway, from Newtown Turnpike to Congress Street in Fairfield. That project — planned to begin in the spring of 2017 — would also include bridge work. (Hopefully, the interminable North Avenue bridge renovation would finally be done by then.)

A public hearing is set for Wednesday (January 27, 7 p.m.) in the Town Hall auditorium.

No one denies that our 2 major highways need work.

But it’s clear too that the twin projects will have major impacts not only on those roadways, but many others throughout Westport.

DOT Has The Answer To Our Transportation Woes!

Every so often — like cicadas, and Bushes running for president — someone floats this idea: Widen our highways.

This time, the Connecticut Post reports, the plan comes courtesy of the state Department of Transportation. Adding lanes to I-95 — all the way from Greenwich to Stonington — as well as I-84, would “produce economic benefits of nearly $40 billion — more than 3 times the cost of both projects combined.”

According to Governor Malloy, most sectors of the state’s economy — especially manufacturing, retail and tourism — would benefit.

A familiar Connecticut scene.

A familiar Connecticut scene.

 

The story notes:

Adding a lane in each direction on I-95 across southern Connecticut will produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, add $9 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers. The widening itself will cost $10.7 billion and support between 11,000 and 19,000 construction jobs over a 10-year ramp-up construction period….

“These numbers prove widening our interstates is the smart thing to do and demonstrate what we’d be losing if we don’t do it, in terms of our economy, jobs, and productivity,” James P. Redeker, commissioner of the transportation department, said. “We really can’t afford to wait.”

Sounds great!

I just have 2 questions:

  • Given the glacial pace of the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge construction project, would it really take just 10 years to “ramp-up”?
  • And, um, where exactly would we get this land in Westport to add a lane on each side?

(Hat tip: Billy Nistico)