Be prepared to sit in more traffic if your commute takes you through Waterbury. Another construction project is about to get underway, and it won’t be finished for two years.
“I don’t like the highways because it’s too much, too aggravating, too stressful, and it’s too crowded,” said Diedra Patterson of Waterbury.
Patterson has another reason to avoid them. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has announced that it will close one southbound lane of Route 8 starting Sunday, January 5. CTDOT said that, combined with the closure of the Exit 19 ramp from I-84 to Route 8, is likely to cause a significant impact to traffic.
“It’ll just be like what we’ve been doing for the past few years is dealing with the traffic and the backup,” said Fran Barton of Middlebury.
This latest closure will take place between exits 31 and 30. It’s part of a longer four-year project to replace and repair all 10 bridges on I-84 and Route 8, the area known as the Mixmaster.
“If they weren’t fixed they would just continue to deteriorate and be at a point where they weren’t safe to drive on anymore,” explained CTDOT Construction Project Engineer David Ferraro. “The existing structural steel needs to be repaired and strengthened because of corrosion.”
The bridges were built in the 1960s and have reached the end of their lifespan. Ferraro said once complete, the bridges should be able to safely carry traffic another 20-25 years.
One northbound lane is already closed. Ferrarro said that the lane closures are necessary to serve as a staging area for construction crews because Route 8 is narrow.
When repairs to the Exit 19 ramp are completed in a year, crews will move on to Exit 20.
“There’s extra volume currently on southbound because of that ramp closure and that’ll happen throughout the duration of the project with ramp closures and extra traffic being forced onto other roadways,” Ferraro explained. “It’ll probably be somewhere around half a mile of backup in the morning during the morning rush.”
“I think there will be quite a few backups going all the way through the connector back up to Route 8 North,” said Richard Bernier of Waterbury .“I’d rather that then the bridges fall down, I suppose.”
“I know it’s gonna be good for us once it’s finally closed and everything is getting worked on,” added Anthony Taggett of Waterbury.
Ferraro said that for the first couple weeks the lane closures will switch back and forth between the left and right lanes before the DOT permanently closes the left lane for a year. The last half of the project they’ll close the right lane.
The southbound on-ramp from Riverside Street will also be closed during construction. For more information, click here.