The four-year Interstate 91 Charter Oak Bridge Project, which aims to ease traffic problems and improve safety in the Hartford, East Hartford and Wethersfield areas, has not yet been completed. However, a particular portion of the project is being finished a year ahead of schedule, according to engineers with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Some drivers will notice a difference as soon as a newly completed highway ramp in Hartford reopens this week, officials said.
The overall construction project, with an estimated cost of $213 million, aims to add a lane to Interstate 91 in Hartford, expand Exit 29 - a well-known bottleneck - to two lanes and to move that exit from the right side of the highway to the left.
“This ramp has backed up for the 30-plus years it’s been open,” Don Ward, Department of Transportation district engineer, said.
There is still a way to go on the entire project, but Ward is highlighting a portion of this roadwork that is being completed a year ahead of schedule. The finishing touches have recently been put on the Exit 87 ramp that connects Routes 5 and 15 south to I-91 South in Hartford. The work at that location was supposed keep the ramp closed to traffic until next fall.
Paving, line striping and sweeping were done on the Exit 87 ramp this week. DOT officials anticipated the ramp would be open to traffic by Thursday morning.
“This was one of those ramps that we needed to open up right away to relieve the traffic that’s now backing up on the Charter Oak Bridge heading to I-91 southbound,” Ward said.
“It just shows you how the department is working in conjunction with the contractor and the consulting firm to do the construction in a more efficient manner and change stages in order to accelerate the schedule,” said Juan Ruiz, a project engineer with DOT.
“Anything we can do possibly do to improve their commute, to relieve some of the pressure and the headaches they have to go through for three years, it’s a tremendous accomplishment,” said Ward.