The I-84 OVERHAUL
Busy Interchange first in line for federal funds
DANBURY — Commuters facing traffic snarls and delays at Interstate 84’s busy Exit 6 are being promised $2.3 million worth of remedies.
The federal funding, announced Tuesday by U.S. Rep. James Maloney, D-5th District, will go toward designing and building solutions that could be in place by 2005.
Last year’s state study of I-84’s deficiencies and needs along the Danbury-Newtown corridor classified the interchange with Route 37 “an immediate, short-term, improvement area.’’
Other interchanges between exits 1 and 11 also are being slated for improvements, but according to Jonathan Chew, executive director of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, Exit 6 is the first to get federal help.
“It’s the most important interchange with the heaviest traffic in the Danbury area,’’ he said. “Now that there’s some funding in place, this will probably be the first project in the study to get anywhere.’’
Exit 6 serves North Street, a major point of entry to downtown Danbury, and Route 37 is the main artery into New Fairfield and Sherman from I-84.
The interchange also allows access to Danbury Hospital, the Henry Abbott Regional Vocational Technical School, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Candlewood Lake.
The Exit 6 project is officially a part of the state’s overall I-84 short-term improvement program, which recommends:.
Maloney said the project would correct safety and other concerns at the existing intersection, improve traffic flow and reduce bottlenecks.
The $2.3 million is contained in a transportation appropriations bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sebastian Sbalcio, principal engineer with the state Department of Transportation, said the interchange plan is being “refined.’’
“We’re in the process of hiring consultants to look at the design plan and its concept and prepare the final drawings,’’ said Sbalcio. “We’ll have a better handle on what is needed in dollars when we have the actual design.’’
Mayor Gene Eriquez welcomed the move.
“It is critically important to improve the safety of the traffic flow through this area,’’ he said. “This interchange is in great need of improvement so I’m delighted we will have the funds to do it.”
New Fairfield First Selectman Patty Gay said she was “cautiously optimistic’’ about the plan.
“I haven’t analyzed the present design,’’ she said, “but I hope it alleviates the problem. The traffic is horrible there and I welcome the federal funding. I just want to fix the problem.’’
Go back home.