STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The bridge work happening on Interstate 95 North in Stonington is part of ongoing highway safety improvements the state is making in eastern Connecticut.
The Stonington project includes taking out end blocks in order to add a new rail, according to Ethan Weaver, a project manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Those new rails will be taller than the existing three wires.
Weaver said that’s to accommodate modern vehicles, which are taller.
The safety improvements also include resurfacing the main line, along with interchange ramps, better lighting, safety fencing on bridge structures and shoulder reconstruction.
The project will cost $57 million. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said the state will have access to $54 million in federal funding from the Build Back Better Plan for the project, as long as the state pays $3 million.
“When it comes to infrastructure, we’ve heard time and time again there’s not Republican or democrat way to pave a pot hole,” Rep. Aundré Bumgardner (D-District 41) said.
Lawmakers said Connecticut roads need to become safer.
“The death toll that we’ve seen on our highways over the last two years — we’re losing a life a day on average, which is extremely high,” Rep. Greg Howard (R-District 43) said. “It’s a trajectory which is going in the wrong direction.”
Deaths from wrong-way crashes prompted the installation of lighted “wrong way” signs at exit ramps. Other improvements are expected to help with that as well.
“Just because of the way the ‘wrong way’ signs are tilted, if you don’t know the area, we need to make sure it’s lighted better,” Sen. Heather Somers (R-District 18) said.
There are several different projects that are part of the safety improvements. Work began in spring 2023 and will continue through summer 2026.
“This is important work,” said Eileen Ego, District 2 construction engineer for CTDOT. “It contributes to the economic vitality of the region.”
Siobhan Burns, who owns The Eyeglass Lass alongside i-95 in Olde Mistick Village, thinks the project will bring in more business.
“So, making it easier to get places — even if it’s a little bit cumbersome in the beginning — I think it’s gonna be great in the long run,” Burns said.
One of the improvements will be to replace fencing on bridges like the one at the scenic overlook in Mystic, where many people have put up locks of love on the fence. Those locks will have to be removed, or they will be gone forever when the fence is replaced.