Calling it a Christmas present, incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff trumpeted the ahead-of-schedule opening of a portion of the Interstate 95 expansion project Monday morning.
Standing at the side of the northbound Exit 14 off-ramp, Duff, D-25, said that the "speed change" lane for the exit opened Friday, five months ahead of schedule and on budget.
"Anyone in Fairfield County can tell you how the crowded and congested this stretch of I-95 is — especially during rush hour," said Duff. "This project will help alleviate traffic, make our roads safer and improve the quality of life for the nearly 150,000 drivers who travel this stretch of road."
The speed change lanes are designed to enhance safety on the highway and ease congestion as vehicles exit the highway giving drivers space and time to adjust their speeds outside of the main traffic flow, according to Duff.
The entire $42 million I-95 project will provide an additional lane in each direction between Exits 14 and 15, and includes the expansion of three bridges over the highway. Duff said that the project is expected to be completed by June 2015. Ground was broken on the project in June of 2012.
"We are really excited to be here today, this is an early Christmas gift for Norwalk," Duff said, standing between Mayor Harry Rilling and Rep. Bruce Morris. "They (construction crews) worked so hard to get this done, and it is on time and on budget."
Duff credited his calls to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) for helping keep the project on schedule, and he praised Gov. Dannel Malloy and DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker for their support of the project. Rilling said he would see crews working in the cold, rain and sometimes for 15 hours a day to get the project ahead of schedule.
"You can see just in the time we have been standing here how many cars have gotten of this highway," said Rilling over the buzz of the I-95 traffic. "And just how important this project is."
An estimated 150,000 vehicles per day travel through I-95 in Norwalk, according to Duff.
Morris, D-140, pointed out how important the project was for the economy of Norwalk saying that it allows smoother access to all of the shopping locations on Connecticut Avenue.
The work is being done by O&G Industries of Torrington under contract to the DOT.
DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said that the 2,300-foot southbound auxiliary lane would begin at the Route 7 (Exit 15) southbound on ramp to I-95 and extends to the Route 1 exit (Exit 14). The northbound auxiliary lane completed Friday is 2,100 feet in length. The Exit 14 ramp to Route 1 (Connecticut Avenue) is being reconfigured and improved, as well as its intersection with Route 1.
Three bridges at Taylor Avenue, Cedar Street and Fairfield Avenue, each carrying the local street over I-95, are being reconstructed to span the new auxiliary lanes and increase vertical clearances over the highway, according to the DOT.
The project includes the addition of left-turn lanes at four upgraded, signalized intersections on Route 1 to improve traffic efficiency. New curbing and seven-foot-wide sidewalks will be installed along both sides. The sidewalk along the north side of Route 1 to Scribner Avenue is also being constructed.
A major concern of the community had been the flooding that often takes place on Route 1 near Fairfield Avenue and a new drainage system will alleviate flooding, reduce the peak discharges at the Norwalk River outfall and improve overall storm water quality, accoriding to a DOT press release on the topic.
Story courtesy of The Hour. You can read the original story on thehour.com.