Middletown Bridge Project Aims to Reduce Accidents on Highway 9 Ramp

MIDDLETOWN — Transportation officials are nearing the final design stages of a project to mitigate the high number of crashes on a Highway 9 on-ramp.

State Department of Transportation crews will widen the bridge that carries Route 9 north over Union Street to provide enough space for an adequate acceleration lane to replace the “controlled stop” intersection on the approach of the freeway, said DOT project manager Salvatore Aresco.

Although there is a give way sign, motorists have to wring their necks to determine the speed at which vehicles are crossing the curve and watch for cars changing lanes.

This area has seen a high number of motor vehicle accidents over the years. The latest state traffic study looked at three years of crash data between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020, within the confines of Project #82-316. There were a total of 340 accidents with 60 injuries during that period, Aresco said.

A total of 49 motorists were injured in 249 crashes at the controlled stop interchange, the data showed. Of those, 244 were rear-end collisions, according to the data.

Data from 2021 was not included to avoid the potential for reports still pending, Aresco said.

A second Route 9 project involves the removal of downtown stoplights between exits 14 and 16, a years-long effort. Due to the pandemic, audience participation has been delayed, Aresco said.

The aim is to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion.

“We tried to do several small public awareness events, but COVID put a wrench in that, so we’re trying to do things digitally now,” he added. There is now a dedicated DOT homepage for the project, and the city is expected to run a social media campaign asking for citizen feedback.

Those designs will be completed later this year, with construction expected to be complete by 2023, he said.

The state is also in the process of renumbering exits in Middletown, Cromwell and other towns. Sequential exits will be converted this year to a mile-based numbering system to match highway mile markers.

For example, in Middletown, exit 14 will eventually become 32B. Temporary signs, which list both new and old exits, can also be seen along Highway 8 from Bridgeport through the Naugatuck Valley.

“By renumbering exits based on distance from the state border, these upgrades will ensure compliance with other states, improve navigation for motorists, and improve response to highway emergencies.” said DOT Communications Director Kafi Rouse.

The new numbering system upgrades, which will be implemented over the next 10 years nationwide, are being rolled out to existing construction projects, and as the signs have reached the end of their service life useful life, she added.

The benefit of the mileage-based exit numbering system is that the markers help travelers know how far they’ve driven and make it easier to report and respond to emergencies on the freeway, Rouse said.

The panels are expected to be completed in 2030.

To comment or ask questions about the project, go to portal.ct.gov/DOT and click “feedback,” or email [email protected]

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