HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Today the I-84 Hartford Project is holding its third open planning session. The planners and engineers want to talk with the people who know the area the best. So if you drive, live, or work around I-84 in Hartford, go to the Parkville community Center before 8 today, they want to hear from you.
If you drive it, you know it. I-84 in Hartford cannot handle today’s traffic volume. The two and a half mile stretch west of the 91 interchange averages two accidents a day. That is why they’re going to replace it.
“We need to design it to current standards,” explained I-84 Hartford Program Manager Dave Stahnke. “We can’t have left hand on and off ramps. Everything’s got to be entering the highway from the right hand side. We need adequate shoulders.”
There are four basic ways to do that. One is just to replace the bridges right where they are. Another is to build new bridges along a slightly different route. The trouble is, highway overpasses have a way of cutting through and dividing neighborhoods. That’s why some would prefer to lower the highway. The trouble there is, I-84 criss-crosses the railroad tracks.
“The lowered option is really under the premise that we can relocate the railroad tracks further to the north, outside the footprint of the highway,” said Stahnke. “That allows us to drop the highway down to grade or below grade in some areas.”
The fourth option is the most expensive and radical. It involves burying a couple miles of the interstate underground, in the style of Boston’s “Big Dig.”
“That would obviously improve the appearance, the noise levels everything would be kind of buried,” Stahnke said. “However, you do still have the rail corridor there that provides that north-south barrier.”
Once they decide on the four basic approaches, there are a hundred different options about off-ramps and local streets, all designed to make getting around easier. Today there is one of many opportunities for you to come voice your opinion of what the new I-84 corridor should look like.
“This is a very complicated corridor,” according to Stahnke. “The people who live and work here understand it better than anybody can.”
Plans, graphics, 3-D digital models, and project data are all available for viewing and discussion. The purpose of the I-84 Hartford Project is to address the highway’s structural deficiencies, traffic flow and safety problems, while maintaining access for the City of Hartford and adjacent communities.
It’s called an “Open Design Studio,” and the doors are open to everyone until 8 PM today at the Parkville Community & Senior Center, 11 New Park Avenue, Hartford. Presentations are scheduled at 1, 3, and 6 PM, you can drop in at any time to interact with planners and engineers. For more information, go to i84hartford.com