Highway changes could make Hartford a walkable city
Thursday, November 16, 2023
A Connecticut Department of Transportation study has outlined plans to make Hartford a walkable city.
The Greater Hartford Mobility Study proposes projects to increase safety and reduce highway congestion in Connecticut's capital region.
One proposal in the study calls for burying portions of I-84 and I-91. Moving sections of the highways underground would call for the building of new bridges crossing the Connecticut River for people to use bikes or e-scooters.
Jay Stange, coordinator for Transport Hartford Academy, said despite the benefits of this study, there are some deficiencies.
"This project also continues to route very high volumes of interstate traffic right through the center of the neighborhoods in the north end of Hartford," Stange pointed out. "All of the air-quality impacts are going to continue with this project as it's conceptualized."
Data Haven's 2023 Community Well-Being Index found Hartford residents are almost 2.5 times more likely to go to the emergency room for asthma compared with residents of nearby towns.
Although a timeline for the projects is uncertain, there has been some opposition to the I-84 rerouting. Stange is confident as the project continues in the development phase, it will shift into a project all people can get behind.
As the project gets underway, there have been differences on how to approach it. One recommendation is a bottom-up approach, meaning slower work to remove I-84 on ramps, reconnecting the North End of the city, and implementation of bus rapid transit. Stange described the other approach being considered.
"On the other end, we have a top-down approach; a very large transformative approach that approaches the double-digit billion-dollar price tag," Stange observed.
He noted people are wary of how to proceed given large-scale projects from the 1960s had negative impacts on Hartford. Stange added people are looking to combine both approaches to get the best version of this project for the city.
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