WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Traffic improvements could lead to traffic headaches for drivers on a busy stretch of I-84.
Improvements to the Scott Road Bridge will cause a nearly 3-mile stretch of I-84 around exit 25 to close Sunday night through Thursday night between 11pm-5am each night. The manager of the project says the Department of Transportation tried to schedule the work during those off-peak hours to cause minimal impact on drivers.
“We’ve used our traffic counts to determine the best time to divert traffic off the highway,” said project manager, Chris Zukowski.
It’s estimated that 100,000 cars pass through that area everyday. It’s the same area where construction crews have been working on an I-84 widening project for the last couple of years. Selim Ergin says traffic is notoriously bad there.
“I live in Wallingford, it takes me about 20 minutes to get here and then with this traffic it takes me about 40 minutes as soon as I hit exit 26,” Ergin said. “That’s when the traffic stops.”
He owns Sultan’s Turkish Restaurant and says the construction work and traffic jams have hurt his business.
“We’re actually down on business about ten percent,” Ergin said.
He’s anxious for all of the work to be done.
“I can’t wait,” he said.
The reason for the closure, beginning late Sunday night, is so crews can widen and improve the Scott Road Bridge. Part of the work includes installing twelve 40,000-pound steel girders, widening the bridge from 3 lanes to 6, and putting in new traffic signals. Zukowski believes those improvements will help traffic flow better off of the interstate. Other improvements in this area that crews have been working on as part of the overall I-84 widening project include: widening nearly 3 miles of the interstate from 2 lanes to 3 in both directions, widening shoulder lanes so disabled vehicles will no longer block traffic — a problem that’s contributed to traffic jams in the past — and installing a new Incident Management System — that’s a series of message boards, cameras and speed sensors that will allow transportation officials to better monitor this area and respond faster to accidents or anything else causing backups so they can clear the scene and get traffic flowing again.
Ergin ultimately hopes all of this work leads to improvements in the area — better traffic flow and more traffic to his business. For now, though, he and others will have to brace for a few more potential traffic headaches in the days ahead because of the detours and closure that the improvements to the Scott Road Bridge could create.
Zukowski expects things to go smoothly. He says the detours and other changes may slow down drivers, but they will get to where they need to go. He also points out, again, that all of this is happening during overnight, off-peak hours.
“If you’re going to travel through this area after 11pm be prepared to follow the signs, follow the cones, the police officers directing you through the intersections and expect to get off the highway through a detour and effortlessly back on,” he said.
The interstate will be open and operate as normal during the morning rush every day.