The westbound entrance ramp to I-84 at Ridgewood Road in West Hartford will close for approximately five months beginning May 11.
By Ronni Newton
If you’re driving south on Ridgewood Road with plans to head west on I-84, you won’t be able to get onto the highway using the Ridgewood Road entrance beginning May 11, and the on-ramp is expected to remain closed through October 2020.
“This is an exciting project that the State of Connecticut is undertaking in West Hartford,” Jim Brennan, a civil engineer with the Town of West Hartford, said in an email. While this is completely a state project, Brennan said the town has been assisting with outreach and the Engineering Division has been responding to questions and concerns of residents who live near the ramp.
The total project costs are estimated at $54.6 million, all of which will be paid by the state.
The project has actually been in the works for many years, Brennan said, and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) had held an open house at West Hartford Town Hall – which was sparsely attended – back in February 2018.
According to Brennan, project planning actually began back in the early 2000s, but for various reasons was delayed or shelved by the DOT. Design work has been ongoing for the past several years, and the construction phase has been ramping up slowly since March 2020 with work contained to the shoulders or other off-highway areas, he said.
The project was also made part of the governor’s CT2030 transportation plan, which recommended a toll gantry on I-84 near Berkshire Road in West Hartford to finance it, but even without tolls is one of the projects that is now moving forward as part of the improvement of the state’s infrastructure.
According to Brennan, the overall project is intended to “improve safety and reduce congestion on I-84 between exits 39A (Route 9) and 43 (Park Road).”
“Key aspects of the project include three bridge replacements, the addition of an auxiliary travel lane in each direction, noise barrier improvements, and repaving,” Brennan said. “The auxiliary lanes, located between Exit 43 and Exit 39A in the westbound direction and between Exit 40 (New Britain Avenue) and Exit 41 (South Main Street) in the eastbound direction, will help facilitate weaving movements of entering and exiting vehicles and increase overall highway capacity.”
The state has provided an official detour to I-84 west (see photo at top), which routes motorists past the closed ramp, then turn right onto New Britain Avenue, and proceeds past Corbin’s Corner and Westfarms. Drivers will be directed to enter Route 9 in a northbound direction just past Michael’s on the Farmington/New Britain line, and take Route 9 to Exit 32, where they can enter I-84 in a westbound direction.
The Exit 40 on-ramp will reopen in October 2020, prior to the holiday shopping season when the stretch between Corbin’s Corner and Route 9 is heavily traveled.
The same ramp will be closed again between April 2022 and October 2022, Brennan said. Both closures are necessitated as part of widening the I-84 bridge that crosses Ridgewood Road.
No other exit or entrance ramps are expected to be impacted, and Brennan said it’s expected that three lanes of traffic will be maintained on I-84 during peak travel times. There will be occasional lane closures or very brief (15-minute) highway closure during off-peak ties to accommodate lane shifts or overhead work.
At its virtual meeting on April 6, the Town Council appropriated $150,000 for work involved with the burying of utility lines along Berkshire Road, underneath the I-84 bridge. The two separate bridge spans that carry eastbound and westbound traffic on I-84 are being replaced.
The utility work is a minor part of the overall project and should be completed in June 2020. All costs will be reimbursed by the state.
The project team held a virtual open house on April 23, which utilized GoToMeeting to allow people to ask questions. DOT staff and consultants from Urban Engineers, gave an overview of the project and along with Brennan were available to answer questions. Brennan said there were a few questions about noise barriers, many of which are being replaced. One resident also asked if there would be any property takes as part of the project, and Brennan said there will not be.
O&G Industries, Inc. is the contractor for the project.
The open house was streamed by WHCi, and can be viewed here through YouTube.
A website has also been established for the project, which includes an interactive map. That information can be found here. The public can also register to receive project updates by texting “i84info” to 22828.
Questions or concerns about the project can be directed to: Susan M. Libatique, P.E., Transportation Principal Engineer, Connecticut Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546 or emailed to [email protected].
The entire project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2023.
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