Connecticut's Department of Transportation announced a plan Tuesday to remove two sets of traffic signals on Route 9 in Middletown.
Many drivers believe that this stretch of roadway has long been a major mess.
“It’s like every time you go in that area, there’s crashes everywhere," said Nikki Estephan of Middletown. Estephan said she was driving her newborn baby when she rear-ended another woman's car at one of the on-ramps to Route 9. "She was going and then all of a sudden her brakes were red and there was nothing I could do," she said.
Transportation officials said that the biggest traffic trouble comes from two sets of traffic lights that can bring drivers to an abrupt halt at Exits 15 and 16.
“You have a highway, then you have a stop light and then another stop light," Middletown Mayor Dan Drew said. Drew said the changes are long overdue.
The project is still in the conceptual stage, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy.
"The traffic signals on Route 9 in Middletown for decades have been a source of major frustration, not to mention significant congestion," Gov. Malloy said.
At those stop lights, there are often major delays and many crashes.
According to the Connecticut Transportation Research Center at UConn, there have been more than 60 reported crashes in this area; 10 with injuries, since January 1, 2015. In addition, researchers found that 70-percent of the crashes were rear-end collisions.
"It’s a hassle. No doubt about that," said Dean Farnsworth of East Haddam.
The new plan from the Connecticut Department of Transportation calls for the removal of the two traffic signals and for the reconfiguration of the highway to improve traffic flow.
Route 9 South would be raised and create two new bridges to cross the existing intersections at Hartford Avenue/St. John's Square and Washington Street. Southbound traffic would enter the City of Middletown using Exit 16 or Exit 14, while northbound traffic would get into the city using Exit 15, according to the proposal.
“It’ll provide ease of access from other points of the state," Drew said. "It will be easier for people to get in and it will contribute to the quality of life for people because they won’t be spending as much time in traffic," he said.
Engineering design for the proposed project will not be done until 2020, according to the state. Construction would begin in 2021 and be completed in 2023 at a cost of about $75 million. The project's funding would be about 80-percent federal dollars.