This week, MTAC staff attended multiple meetings regarding the planned replacement of the elevated Interstate 84 Viaduct that runs through Hartford. Replacement and reconstruction of the two-plus mile long stretch of the main highway, and the accompanying on/off ramp bridges connected to that area, is necessary because the elevated highway and on/off ramps have reached the end of their useful life.
Engineering consultants are currently considering four main options, which include: a no-build option, an elevated highway, a lowered highway, and a tunnel. Each of those options have a number of different sub-options, for example, different configurations of on/off ramps for each. Consultants presented maps showing the results of traffic simulations for not only the highway, but key city streets and intersections, for various proposals. It should be noted that the tunnel option is not only very costly, but would create major congestion on the highway and on several major city streets and intersections. The tunnel option could also effectively ban hazmat trucks from traveling on that section of I-84, meaning that several MTAC member companies would face a great burden as they deliver fuel to heat homes, businesses, and for resale at gas stations.
MTAC members need to be aware that one option for “accelerated construction” of the project would be to completely shut down that stretch of I-84 for more than one year. Consultants and government officials working on the project stated that the idea is “thinking outside the box” and that is “a long shot,” yet they also referenced on multiple occasions the fact that it was done for projects in St. Louis, Mo. and Knoxville, Tenn. Needless to say, completely shutting down the highway would create dire consequences for members.
It is also important to note that as part of the project, multiple on/off ramps would be eliminated, because engineers and consultants believe there are too many in a short distance, which contributes to congestion. Importantly, the project would not relieve congestion at that I-84 / I-91 interchange, because it won’t eliminate the choke point where three lanes are reduced to two lanes in both directions. Through-put will not be increased.
MTAC members should attend I-84 project meetings in the future if possible. Several were in attendance this week, and they were able to provide real-world examples of the challenges faced by their companies, and how this project would further complicate those challenges. MTAC appreciates the members that were able to attend the meeting this week and provide valuable comments, specifically: Bozzuto’s, Coastal Carriers, FedEx, UPS, Walker Crane, and XPO Logistics.
Consultants and government officials took note of the concrete examples provided by MTAC members. MTAC and its members need to continue to provide valuable information like that in order to have our concerns addressed during this project.
For more information, visit the project website.