NORWALK, Conn. – At first, Laura Allen figured it was just the usual mowing along Interstate 95 in Norwalk.
But when the trees started coming down Wednesday, Allen realized the deforestation happening behind the parking lot at REI, where she works, had to be part of the widening of I-95.
The $42 million project will provide an additional lane in each direction of the highway between Exits 14 and 15 in the hopes of easing congestion and making the roadway safer. Connecticut Avenue will also see major improvements.
The I-95 overpasses at Taylor Avenue, Cedar Street and Fairfield Avenue will be reconstructed to span the new space and will be higher.
Cedar Street will be the first to go. It will close on or about Aug. 13 and stay closed through November 2013, according to information provided by state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk.
Taylor Avenue and Fairfield Avenue will then close concurrently. They will be worked on simultaneously; they are expected to reopen in December 2015.
What else will you see in the near future? Tree cutting will continue over the next two weeks, and a drainage improvement project will begin near West Avenue. The I-95 pavement between exits 13 and 16 will be rehabilitated, both northbound and southbound. Barriers will be placed along the I-95 shoulders near Cedar Street.
By the end of 2015, Norwalk should see significant changes: There will be left-turn lanes at four Connecticut Avenue intersections as well as new curbs and 7-foot-wide sidewalks installed along both sides. The sidewalks along the north side of Connecticut Avenue will be extended to Scribner Avenue. Hopefully, there will be less flooding near Fairfield Avenue, thanks to the new drainage system.
On I-95, the new northbound lane will be 2,100 feet long. The new southbound lane will extend 2,300 feet, from the Route 7 on ramp at Exit 15 to the Exit 14 off ramp at Connecticut Avenue. The ramp will be reconfigured as well as its intersection with Connecticut Avenue.
Gov. Dannel Malloy stood at that ramp in November 2010 during his campaign, promising to improve I-95 in Norwalk if he won. "For years I have fought for funding for additional lanes on this congested section of I-95, and it is gratifying to see this important project get under way," said Duff, vice chairman of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee. "I thank Gov. Malloy for making good on his promise to fix the worst highway choke point in the I-95 corridor."
In July 2005, the state legislature passed a $1.3 billion transportation initiative that included $187 million for “congestion mitigation” measures on I-95 from Greenwich to North Stonington. This project is one of three planned along one of the most congested corridors in Connecticut.
O&G Industries of Torrington is under contract to the Connecticut Department of Transportation to do the work. It is expected to create or sustain about 80 jobs.