Return of Rush Hour on Connecticut Highways? Not Quite

NBCUniversal, Inc.

In March, Connecticut highways suddenly became eerily quiet. State Department of Transportation traffic data offers a new snapshot of what rush hour looks like now six months into the coronavirus crisis.

In late March and early April, interstates that were typically quite busy before the COVID-19 pandemic were suddenly much quieter. Now, months later, NBC Connecticut Investigates is again analyzing traffic data from the CTDOT continuous count stations around Connecticut.

Looking back to April 8, 2020, traffic volume was down 60% compared to 2019 on Interstate 91 in Wethersfield, according to CTDOT data. Only 63,418 vehicles used that stretch of highway on that particular Wednesday. Compare that to data from September 9, 2020 when 117,730 vehicles passed through. That is a significant increase, but volumes were still down 18% compared to that travel day the year before.

“We’re not seeing those AM and PM peaks that we typically see associated with rush hour, which makes sense because people’s days are certainly not looking like they used to,” said Kimberly Lesay, bureau chief at the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Policy & Planning.

According the data on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Interstate 84 in Middlebury showed a volume of 34,918 vehicles, which was a decrease of 53% from 2019. On September 9 of this year, 63,724 vehicles passed through the continuous count station; a decrease of 14% from that time the year before.

“There’s always peaks with weekend travel and holiday travel and we still did see those a little bit but as far as being back up to normal traffic numbers, we still are a little bit below normal,” Lesay said.

When it comes to Interstate 95, a main artery through Connecticut, CTDOT data showed a 57% decrease in traffic back in April 2020. Just 38,616 vehicles passed through a counting station in Branford, according to the data. In September 2020, volume was up to 80,058 vehicles, which was still 12% lower than the September last year.

CT Dept. of Transportation Continuous Count Stations Data

Interstate 91 – Wethersfield

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020: 63,418 Vehicles
    • Down 60% from 2019 (159,980 Vehicles)
  • Wednesday September 9, 2020: 117,730 Vehicles
    • Down 18% from 2019 (143,022 Vehicles)

Interstate 84 – Middlebury

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020: 34,918 Vehicles
    • Down 53% from 2019 (73,757 Vehicles)
  • Wednesday, September 9, 2020: 63,724 Vehicles
    • Down 14% from 2019 (73,852 Vehicles)

Interstate 95 – Branford

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020: 38,616 Vehicles
    • Down 57% from 2019 (89,027 Vehicles)
  • Wednesday, September 9, 2020: 80,058 Vehicles
    • Down 12% from 2019 (90,897 Vehicles)

To learn more about this CTDOT Traffic Monitoring Count Data, click here.

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