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In Downtown Hartford, an Open Forum to Discuss the Future of I-84

Apr 30, 2015

Rich Armstrong, principal engineer at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR
"It's so critical at this time frame to participate and to engage with us, so that we understand the community's concerns."
Rich Armstrong

The state Department of Transportation is inviting the public to look at options for redesigning the way I-84 runs through the center of Hartford. All this week, it's holding an open forum in the auditorium of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford.

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, DOT principal engineer Rich Armstrong said engineers, planners, and environmental specialists are available to answer questions.

"We're in that planning phase, and it's so critical at this time frame to participate and to engage with us, so that we understand the community's concerns," Armstrong said. "There are people who are very, very, familiar with this section of highway and how it's affected the community. That's really important as we start to contemplate solutions."

Dave Stahnke of TranSystems, a DOT consultant leading the I-84 design process.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dave Stahnke, who is heading up the project's management team, said the downtown run of more than 50-year-old highway needs to be changed.

"We have too many interchanges. They're very close together. There's a lot of left hand on-and-off ramps. As you come into downtown Hartford, you're constantly having to weave over, get over a lane or two, to try make your exit," he said. "You have competing cars coming on trying to go the opposite direction. So, we have a lot of this, we call it traffic flow congestion or turbulence."

Planners hope to straighten that out through a variety of options including lowering the highway to at-or-below grade level and potentially rerouting the train corridor through the Asylum Hill neighborhood. The goal? To improve interchanges and enhance overall traffic flow. 

"We do believe we are going to actually end up with a freeway, and ramp systems, with less square footage than what's out there now, and yet get it to operate better," Stahnke said.

At any rate, it will likely be several years before any construction begins.

The DOT says its open forum in Hartford ends with a presentation Saturday morning.