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Author Topic: Connecticut News  (Read 1364195 times)

MikeCL

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5625 on: August 05, 2023, 10:48:07 AM »

One more question for the SB Darien service station what is that building they are building near the Mcdonals drive-tru area? It seems a little on the larger size.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5626 on: August 05, 2023, 12:28:35 PM »

As everyone likely knows, there is a welcome center on Interstate 95 northbound just east of Exit 65 (there is a state police barracks on the other side). Why did Connecticut construct a welcome center nearly 74 miles east of the Connecticut/New York border. I would think a better location for a welcome center would have been the current location of the weigh station between Exits 2 and 3. Maybe a gas station-only service area should have been built at Westbrook instead.
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Ted$8roadFan

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5627 on: August 05, 2023, 01:28:35 PM »

As everyone likely knows, there is a welcome center on Interstate 95 northbound just east of Exit 65 (there is a state police barracks on the other side). Why did Connecticut construct a welcome center nearly 74 miles east of the Connecticut/New York border. I would think a better location for a welcome center would have been the current location of the weigh station between Exits 2 and 3. Maybe a gas station-only service area should have been built at Westbrook instead.

Per Connecticut’s DCED, there is a welcome center at the Darien Northbound area. There’s probably another welcome center in Westbrook to entice those who drive up on the Merritt and cut over to 95 north on their way to RI or Cape Cod (as I have done) and for those who didn’t stop at Darien for whatever reason.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2023, 07:06:14 AM by Ted$8roadFan »
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MikeCL

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5628 on: August 05, 2023, 07:47:58 PM »

Damn forgot to grab the shot of the service station on the way back home
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shadyjay

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5629 on: August 06, 2023, 08:52:28 AM »

The former signage (pre-2000) for Westbrook said "TOURIST INFO".  The sign replacement project changed it to "REST AREA/CT WELCOME CENTER".  It should have been more "REST AREA/TOURIST INFO CENTER".  In much much larger states, 74 miles in is nothing compared to being 200-300 miles wide, but in CT, you're 3/4 of the way across the state, so the welcome center designation is a misnomer.  So think of it not as a welcome center, but as a tourist info center for the busy SE portion of CT, whether you've been on I-95 the whole time or you've cut across via the Merritt/Milford Pkwys.

As to why it was built, I'm not sure.  I doubt its turnpike-original.  My guess would be sometime in the 70s or early 80s.  Its style is different from the other state non-commercial rest areas.  Granted its run by the dept of tourism, not by ConnDOT, hence why it was closed for a couple of years some time back.  At least its open again, just not all year round.

In reality, it should go.  Its got very limited car parking, and trucks line its shoulders at night.  If I-95 ever gets widened in the area, it would have to go.  It's just too tight in that area and its onramp is almost immediately at the Exit 66 offramp. 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2023, 09:00:04 AM by shadyjay »
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shadyjay

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5630 on: August 06, 2023, 04:48:42 PM »

I'm actually in the Darien Rest Area at the moment, I notice they have traffic map displays on the TVs, is this a standard for CT, I haven't seen this at rest areas in other states?
They put those in when they revamped all of the rest areas about 5-10 years ago. The McDonalds at the Darien rest area is supposedly one of the ten busiest in the world or was before they added more food options as part of the renovations.
I tried searching but does anyone have old photos before they redid the rest stations? They are beyond hard to find.. I just wanted to show someone.

A 30-second google search turned up the following:

For the smaller (Branford-SB and Madison-NB):
https://patch.com/connecticut/branford/mcdonald-s-to-close-i-95-service-plaza-restaurants-inb9c6464be5

And the others:
https://patch.com/connecticut/norwalk/darien-rest-stops-to-be-completely-replaced-ed4e3480
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MikeCL

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5631 on: August 06, 2023, 04:53:58 PM »

I'm actually in the Darien Rest Area at the moment, I notice they have traffic map displays on the TVs, is this a standard for CT, I haven't seen this at rest areas in other states?
They put those in when they revamped all of the rest areas about 5-10 years ago. The McDonalds at the Darien rest area is supposedly one of the ten busiest in the world or was before they added more food options as part of the renovations.
I tried searching but does anyone have old photos before they redid the rest stations? They are beyond hard to find.. I just wanted to show someone.

A 30-second google search turned up the following:

For the smaller (Branford-SB and Madison-NB):
https://patch.com/connecticut/branford/mcdonald-s-to-close-i-95-service-plaza-restaurants-inb9c6464be5

And the others:
https://patch.com/connecticut/norwalk/darien-rest-stops-to-be-completely-replaced-ed4e3480

Thanks.. maybe I searched under the wrong search terms as these show much clearer photos might of also been I was only trying to search for the Darien photos since it was the first one you came to into CT.
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Ted$8roadFan

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5632 on: August 06, 2023, 05:13:25 PM »

The former signage (pre-2000) for Westbrook said "TOURIST INFO".  The sign replacement project changed it to "REST AREA/CT WELCOME CENTER".  It should have been more "REST AREA/TOURIST INFO CENTER".  In much much larger states, 74 miles in is nothing compared to being 200-300 miles wide, but in CT, you're 3/4 of the way across the state, so the welcome center designation is a misnomer.  So think of it not as a welcome center, but as a tourist info center for the busy SE portion of CT, whether you've been on I-95 the whole time or you've cut across via the Merritt/Milford Pkwys.

As to why it was built, I'm not sure.  I doubt its turnpike-original.  My guess would be sometime in the 70s or early 80s.  Its style is different from the other state non-commercial rest areas.  Granted its run by the dept of tourism, not by ConnDOT, hence why it was closed for a couple of years some time back.  At least its open again, just not all year round.

In reality, it should go.  Its got very limited car parking, and trucks line its shoulders at night.  If I-95 ever gets widened in the area, it would have to go.  It's just too tight in that area and its onramp is almost immediately at the Exit 66 offramp.

If the state wanted a tourist info center for traffic east of New Haven, I wonder why they didn’t make provisions for one when they redesigned the rest areas om Branford and Madison. Even a kiosk would be OK (unless I missed it). 
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shadyjay

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5633 on: August 06, 2023, 07:56:04 PM »

There are the tourism kiosks in the service plazas. 

However, in this digital era where everything we could possibly need is on our phones, is a welcome center really necessary?  I still enjoy them and using the opportunity to ask questions, use the facilities or grab a state map.  However in CT, you can't even do the latter! 

Welcome centers in VT, NH and ME seem to still be well patronized with friendly welcoming staff, with the racks stocked full of maps and brochures and whatnot.  Last time I was at the CT centers, there were no maps and about half of the brochures. 

I had a concept of constructing an off-highway travel plaza in Westbrook combining food and fuel and tourist info in a design similar to the on-highway service plazas, utilizing land formerly occupying a restaurant and existing gas station.  I came up with other concepts adjacent to existing non-commercial CT rest areas (N Stonington, Wallingford), in an effort to reduce the facility burden on ConnDOT and up the tourism ante (a counter in a privately-operated building to staff 8 hours/day vs an entire facility to take care of and keep open and secure 24/7). 
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MikeCL

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5634 on: August 07, 2023, 03:03:16 PM »

Got around to taking pictures today

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jp the roadgeek

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5635 on: August 07, 2023, 04:39:12 PM »

$17 for a 2 cheeseburger value meal?!? :wow: :ded:  I could buy my own side of beef for that price.
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Interstates I've clinched: 97, 290 (MA), 291 (CT), 291 (MA), 293, 295 (DE-NJ-PA), 295 (RI-MA), 384, 391, 395 (CT-MA), 395 (MD), 495 (DE), 610 (LA), 684, 691, 695 (MD), 695 (NY), 795 (MD)

Ted$8roadFan

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5636 on: August 07, 2023, 06:39:45 PM »

I’m guessing this is the Darien plaza? If so, the $17 would make sense.
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shadyjay

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5637 on: August 07, 2023, 08:00:26 PM »

Here's some pre-rebuilding footage of the inside (and some of the outside) of Darien-NB:

Think of the interiors back then as just a very large McDonalds with a couple "indentations" for smaller vendors.  Faber was the gift shop.  Edy's Ice Cream and Original Pizza of Boston I  believe were the other vendors.  Signage inside was primarily McDonalds, right down to the traditional McD's floor design of the time.  There was no convenience store back then... just a booth in the middle of the island for gas transactions. I do miss the gift shop... years ago I bought a shirt that had a map of CT on it, basically zoomed in showing roads, town names, etc (and not just the basic state outline).
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RobbieL2415

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5638 on: August 08, 2023, 01:35:10 PM »

Is there a reason why the I-84/I-91 HOV lanes were not designed with jersey barriers, with appropriate breaks to allow for authorized access? Seems like more people than ever are just cutting across the gore to avoid accidents/traffic.
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zzyzx

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5639 on: August 08, 2023, 04:08:21 PM »

The Day newspaper published an article this weekend about the Gold Star Bridge, and the traffic headaches that it caused prior to the second span opening in the 1970s. There’s an interactive timeline and some historical images and signage of I-95 from around that time:

https://www.theday.com/local-news/20230805/the-two-decade-struggle-to-fix-gold-star-traffic-jams/
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shadyjay

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5640 on: August 08, 2023, 04:36:12 PM »

The Day newspaper published an article this weekend about the Gold Star Bridge, and the traffic headaches that it caused prior to the second span opening in the 1970s. There’s an interactive timeline and some historical images and signage of I-95 from around that time:

https://www.theday.com/local-news/20230805/the-two-decade-struggle-to-fix-gold-star-traffic-jams/

Too bad its behind a paywall.
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zzyzx

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5641 on: August 08, 2023, 05:01:38 PM »

The Day newspaper published an article this weekend about the Gold Star Bridge, and the traffic headaches that it caused prior to the second span opening in the 1970s. There’s an interactive timeline and some historical images and signage of I-95 from around that time:

https://www.theday.com/local-news/20230805/the-two-decade-struggle-to-fix-gold-star-traffic-jams/

Too bad its behind a paywall.

The two-decade struggle to fix Gold Star traffic jams
By John Ruddy
Copy Desk Chief
j.ruddy@theday.com

Editor’s note: This story was drawn mostly from the archives of The Day, with additional material from the Connecticut State Library and the Connecticut College website “Mapping Urban Renewal in New London: 1941-1975.”

It all started with soda bottles.

The driver of a pickup on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, then a single span with two lanes in each direction, tried to pass the car ahead of him. When he changed lanes, cases of bottles he was carrying shifted, and the truck fishtailed. Then it climbed over the low concrete median and struck an oncoming car.

Maybe it was the three serious injuries that resulted, or traffic at a standstill for hours, or just people’s patience at a breaking point. But something about this accident in November 1967 struck a nerve. After years of worsening conditions on the bridge, letters started arriving at the governor’s office, demanding action.

“Being a frequent user of this Bridge I like many other citizens have come to fear to cross it,”  one man wrote.

But little could be done. The solution was a second span, and that was already planned but still a long way off.

Fifty years ago in June, the Gold Star’s long-awaited twin was finally finished, changing the region’s transportation landscape. But even that didn’t end the story.

The original span’s completion in 1943 ended huge tie-ups on its predecessor, a converted railroad bridge that opened whenever a boat came along. But with time and more traffic, the Gold Star became the problem it was built to solve.

Fixing things was a bigger job the second time around. The solution had to account for busier roads, changes in traffic engineering and vast disruptions on the ground. A second span wasn’t enough: The old bridge would also have to be widened to keep travel between New London and Groton flowing for the long haul.

The entire drama played out over 20 years of construction, demolition, upheaval and death.

Cars and trucks first drove across the across the Thames River between Groton and New London on repurposed railroad tracks.

By 1965, the four-lane span is part of Interstate 95, the primary north-south artery along the eastern seaboard.

* * *

The accident that took a 16-year-old’s life in July 1958 was an earlier breaking point. The fact that he’d had his driver’s license just two days and was going 100 mph didn’t seem to matter as much as the location.

The crash occurred at the corner of Colman Street and the Bridge Approach, a four-lane road built for the Gold Star in the 1940s. There were businesses on both sides and intersections with other streets.

It was the second fatality at that spot, and the third on the approach, in a few months.

Three years before, when the state had announced plans to convert the approach to a limited-access highway, many in New London were dead set against the idea.

“We need this as much as we need a hole in the head,”  Spencer Moon complained about the expected loss of traffic to his Buick dealership and gas station.

But as the Bridge Approach became increasingly dangerous, the city changed its tune. After the third fatality, officials pleaded for the stalled project to begin.

The addition of service roads and overpasses at Briggs, Colman and Vauxhall streets wasn’t just about safety in the immediate area. The approach would eventually be part of a Maine-to-Florida highway.

Most of Connecticut’s stretch of Interstate 95 had just opened as the Connecticut Turnpike, which ran from Greenwich to East Lyme before turning north. The rest of the route, from Waterford to the Rhode Island line, would be upgraded piecemeal over the next few years. The Bridge Approach was one of the pieces, as was the bridge itself.

With approach construction underway in January 1960, the state announced a second bridge would be built next to the existing one. But years before that happened, the last section of highway opened in Groton, Stonington and North Stonington. As of December 1964, the narrow Gold Star was part of I-95.

A traffic nightmare was ahead.

* * *

For Samuel Bellin, the state might as well have dropped a bomb.

When initial plans for the new bridge were unveiled in late 1963, they included a four-lane access road from the Bridge Approach to Mohegan Avenue. It would run right through Hodges Square, wiping out the thriving business district.

“There are no empty stores here, such as you see downtown …,”  said Bellin, who ran a pharmacy. “How can they do this?”

Bellin and his fellow merchants organized, and the city got behind them in opposing the loss of Hodges Square. Highway Commissioner Howard Ives warned the alternative might be worse but gave the city eight options to choose from.

New London reluctantly backed “Alternate G,”  which spared Hodges Square but still took 250 properties, including businesses on the new service roads.

The interchange to enter the bridge caused endless design complications, but the bridge itself would be a straightforward truss span like the Gold Star, only wider. Engineers had briefly considered a double-deck bridge and even a tunnel, but those ideas went nowhere.

Revisions to the interchange in 1967 that would take still more properties dismayed most city officials except the Redevelopment Agency, which was conducting widespread demolition of its own.

“Usually when highways are built, they take some valuable land and open other properties which in turn become valuable. This plan takes everything but returns nothing,”  Assessor Robert Flanagan complained.

The city’s grand list was in for a $3 million hit. Among the properties to be sacrificed were the Meadows Restaurant, New London Motel, Fremont Funeral Home and London House apartments, which were almost new. Winthrop School next to the Old Town Mill was also targeted. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church left town, though its building survived.

By the fall of 1969, as property owners collected damages, other aspects of the project were in place. With bids made and contracts signed, construction was set to begin.

* * *

Bumper to bumper and not moving, cars stretched west to the Waterford weigh station and north to Quaker Hill. The cause of the afternoon traffic jam, just before Christmas 1966, was a tractor-trailer that had jumped the bridge’s median. That morning another truck had run out of fuel. Then it snowed overnight, and the next day cars were again stacked up for miles.

The only thing remarkable about this trio of tie-ups is that it wasn’t remarkable at all.

Crashes and congestion on the bridge had gradually increased, but once I-95 opened, they spiked. Stories about closed lanes and late-arriving commuters were so common in The Day they were often relegated to inside pages.

In one case, an ambulance carrying a patient was rerouted many miles to the Mohegan-Pequot Bridge. In another, a woman in labor got a police escort past an accident scene.

Meanwhile, a separate drama was unfolding: People were jumping off the bridge. Since 1951, there had been about one suicide a year, with more attempts thwarted.

Dr. Charles Dyer, New London’s health director, spent years begging the state for higher fences. Officials finally agreed in 1967. Two people leaped to their deaths while the fences were going up, but the march of troubled souls to the bridge slowed, then stopped.

Amid the traffic woes, public hearings were held and frustrations vented, but answers were elusive.

“Who the hell is responsible?”  asked Groton City Mayor Clarence Sharp, who later had a highway named after him.

Ideas included stoplights, TV monitors, motorcycle patrols and highway workers summoning wreckers with walkie-talkies. New London City Councilor Ruby Turner Morris proposed squeezing through traffic into one lane to keep the other free for entering vehicles.

There was no solution except to proceed with construction.

* * *

1940: Groton-New London Bridge opens.

1951: A woman jumps to her death from the bridge, beginning a 20-year suicide era that claims 19 lives.

1958: A series of fatal accidents on the Bridge Approach prompt the city to urge completion of the stalled service road project.

1964: News that plans for the new bridge would destroy Hodges Square causes an uproar, and access road locations are changed in response. With the completion of Connecticut’s last stretch of Interstate 95, in Groton and Stonington, the bridge becomes part of the highway.

1967: Engineers again revise access road plans in response to complaints, and the taking of 250 properties begins. As increasing traffic jams become intolerable, local officials beg the state to speed the construction schedule. Suicide fences are erected, which reduce fatal jumps.

1973: The new bridge opens and temporarily accommodates three lanes of traffic in each direction as the original bridge closes.

1975: The original bridge opens to six lanes of northbound traffic, and the new bridge is converted to six lanes of southbound traffic.

* * *

By the spring of 1970, a line of piers was taking shape to the bridge’s north. The six in the river required boring, dredging, driving piles into bedrock, pumping out water and pouring concrete into frames.

After the endless planning and negotiation of recent years, the substructure was erected quickly and finished well ahead of schedule.

The first steel girders were laid on the piers in May 1971, and the following year, sections of the superstructure, built on bridge-high staging at Whaling City Dredge and Dock in Groton, were floated into place on barges.

The usual misfortunes included a punctured water main, brief labor disputes, and the deaths of two workers, one crushed, the other electrocuted. When the Coast Guard barque Eagle sailed under the bridge in June 1972, safety nets caught two of its three masts and snapped off the tops.

The next month, the last section of framing was in place, but the opening was still a year off as the access-road interchange was transformed.

The existing, tidy cloverleaf morphed into a tangle of looping entrance ramps and overlapping highways. Route 32 was widened and relocated. The Colman and Briggs street overpasses, just a decade old, were demolished and rebuilt.

When the ribbon was cut to open the new bridge on June 13, 1973, the first car to cross was the same ’41 Lincoln Continental that had inaugurated traffic on the original bridge three decades before.

But two more years of construction were ahead. While the new bridge carried three lanes in each direction, with familiar traffic problems, the old one was dismantled. Giant cranes lowered sections of it and raised wider replacements in the spring and summer of 1974.

When it was finally over, the result was two one-way bridges with five lanes apiece, which has worked smoothly ever since. But the end of the 20-year saga came with an unplanned nod to the past.

On Dec. 16, 1975, minutes after a ceremony opening the reconstructed bridge, two cars were damaged in a minor collision.

* * *

Bridge’s current long-term drama is about maintenance

The 20-year odyssey of road improvements and bridge building from 1955 to 1975 ended the Gold Star Memorial Bridge’s chronic traffic nightmare.

Since then, problems have been limited to things like weekend beach tie-ups and the occasional spectacular crash.

On Feb. 13, 2022, a tractor-trailer jackknifed and tore through the bridge’s fence, snarling northbound traffic for five hours, just like in the old days. On April 21 of this year, a crash involving a heating oil truck killed the driver and set the southbound span on fire, closing Interstate 95 in both directions.

The bridge’s latest multiyear saga isn’t about traffic. This time, it’s maintenance.

In 2017 the state Department of Transportation announced both bridges were due for extensive rehabilitation to keep them in good shape for the next 25 years. The southbound span was tackled first: substructure and steel repairs, expansion-joint replacement and deck repaving. Work wrapped up in late 2018 and cost $43.8 million, according to the DOT.

The structural integrity of the southbound bridge held firm through the massive fire in April, though officials said that was less about the rehab than other factors.

Last year, work began on the northbound span, whose condition was rated as “poor”  after a Federal Highway Administration inspection in 2019. That indicated a need to start repairs rather than an immediate emergency, and DOT said bridges rated poor can be used safely for “many, many years."

In December the FHA announced a $158 million federal grant for the job, which is estimated to total $407 million. It involves strengthening the truss and girder spans and replacing the deck. Adding a pedestrian and bicycle path is also under consideration.

The work is expected to be complete by 2029.
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Rothman

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5642 on: August 09, 2023, 12:11:11 AM »



Is there a reason why the I-84/I-91 HOV lanes were not designed with jersey barriers, with appropriate breaks to allow for authorized access? Seems like more people than ever are just cutting across the gore to avoid accidents/traffic.

Hehehehe.  I was around when they were built.  One slow vehicle makes them useless.  I stay out of them, unless there's a real jam.

They certainly looked cool when they built them and all the work done was a godsend for the formerly narrow I-91.
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MikeTheActuary

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5643 on: August 09, 2023, 08:26:05 AM »

One slow vehicle makes them useless.

Useless if you're trying to maintain 70+ mph.

When my wife is in the car and my itinerary permits, I prefer the HOV lanes, even when the mainline isn't backed up, because there's less exposure to crazed drivers weaving in and out of traffic at high speed, or the randomness of other drivers' speed and lane changes due to improper lane discipline and too-frequent entrances/exits.....
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kernals12

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5644 on: August 09, 2023, 12:36:34 PM »

New update on the I-84 Danbury study. It looks like the working group is pretty enthusiastic about converting the inside shoulder between exits 4 and 7 into a part-time travel lane, saying they could open it in 2028.
https://www.i84danbury.com/course_cat/public-advisory-committee/
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Rothman

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5645 on: August 09, 2023, 02:51:34 PM »

One slow vehicle makes them useless.

Useless if you're trying to maintain 70+ mph.

When my wife is in the car and my itinerary permits, I prefer the HOV lanes, even when the mainline isn't backed up, because there's less exposure to crazed drivers weaving in and out of traffic at high speed, or the randomness of other drivers' speed and lane changes due to improper lane discipline and too-frequent entrances/exits.....
What a cute little Nestor you are.

ETA:  And just realized you'd be an actuary in CT, which is amusingly stereotypical. :D
« Last Edit: August 09, 2023, 04:53:10 PM by Rothman »
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MikeCL

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5646 on: August 09, 2023, 06:59:19 PM »

$17 for a 2 cheeseburger value meal?!? :wow: :ded:  I could buy my own side of beef for that price.
lol I didn't pay a thing I used my points.. I've seen a person pay $50 once.. just unreal.
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connroadgeek

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5647 on: August 09, 2023, 07:02:36 PM »

New update on the I-84 Danbury study. It looks like the working group is pretty enthusiastic about converting the inside shoulder between exits 4 and 7 into a part-time travel lane, saying they could open it in 2028.
https://www.i84danbury.com/course_cat/public-advisory-committee/
Five years to put up a few gantries with some arrow indicators?
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Great Lakes Roads

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5648 on: August 09, 2023, 07:50:39 PM »

New update on the I-84 Danbury study. It looks like the working group is pretty enthusiastic about converting the inside shoulder between exits 4 and 7 into a part-time travel lane, saying they could open it in 2028.
https://www.i84danbury.com/course_cat/public-advisory-committee/
Five years to put up a few gantries with some arrow indicators?
And a DDI with through movements at Exit 8?
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connroadgeek

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Re: Connecticut News
« Reply #5649 on: August 10, 2023, 10:05:10 AM »

New update on the I-84 Danbury study. It looks like the working group is pretty enthusiastic about converting the inside shoulder between exits 4 and 7 into a part-time travel lane, saying they could open it in 2028.
https://www.i84danbury.com/course_cat/public-advisory-committee/
Five years to put up a few gantries with some arrow indicators?
And a DDI with through movements at Exit 8?

In China they'd start work on a project this small after the morning rush and have it in place by the afternoon rush.
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