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A merger in Middletown has seen hundreds of traffic accidents. Now officials want to fix it

The intersection of route 9 and route 17 in Middletown, CT on April 11, 2023
Dave Wurtzel
Connecticut Public
The intersection of routes 9 and 17 in Middletown, Conn., April 11, 2023

A multimillion-dollar project to upgrade the Route 17 on-ramp leading to Route 9 North in Middletown kicked off Tuesday. The multiyear effort to fix a dangerous merger that has been the site of hundreds of crashes is expected to take several years.

Gov. Ned Lamont and state Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto announced that the Connecticut Department of Transportation project is an effort to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians and improve traffic.

“For decades, drivers traveling from here to the south end of Middletown have been met with a stop sign to merge into Route 9,” Eucalitto said. “It forces you to stop completely before merging into oncoming traffic, and usually, that traffic is coming 60 to 70 miles per hour.”

Officials said 319 crashes were reported in the area between 2019 and 2022.

The project includes removing the on-ramp’s existing stop sign and creating a full-length acceleration lane that will allow vehicles to merge onto Route 9 without having to come to a complete stop. The bridge carrying Route 17 over Route 9 will be replaced to accommodate the new acceleration lane. Harbor Drive access to Route 9 will also be removed. The Main Street Extension intersection will be realigned with new signals. A new sidewalk will be added to the west side of Main Street Extension underneath Route 17.

The intersection of routes 9 and 17 in Middletown, CT on April 11, 2023
Dave Wurtzel
Connecticut Public
The intersection of routes 9 and 17 in Middletown, Conn. April 11, 2023

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said in a statement that the project will ultimately increase access to the waterfront.

"This investment will help Connecticut build a better, stronger economy – with more jobs," she said.

Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim said conversations with the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce on potential business disruptions have been productive.

“There is a recognition that we need to solve the underlying problem,” Florsheim said. “The status quo is a problem for business. It’s a problem for economic development in Middletown and there will be some challenges. I know that there’s apprehension just as there would be with any large-scale project. But more than that, there is enthusiasm for where this is going to take us.”

Middlesex Corporation was awarded the $50 million contract. Eucalitto said 80% of the funding for the project comes from the federal government through the bipartisan infrastructure bill and 20% from the state. Work is expected to be completed in 2026.

The state will provide project updates online.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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