The face of Hartford could be about to change.
A proposal to replace the I-84 viaduct is moving forward and the plan would impact just about everyone who lives in or even drives through the city.
If the plan moves forward, the viaduct would be gone, the Asylum railroad would be replaced, and commuters would have a very different experience while driving through the capital city.
On Thursday, Connecticut leaders unveiled drawings of the plan, which would lower the highway to, or even slightly below, ground level through two miles of the city.
Gov. Dannel Malloy says the change is long overdue.
“When the viaduct was built in the 1960s it was designed to carry 50,000 cars a day. Today it carries 175,000 vehicles a day,” Malloy said.
The governor announced the state will begin an environmental impact study on the idea.
He says the project would beautify the city, ease congestion, and get rid of a viaduct that has become unsafe.
“A lot of people in the community, in the businesses have asked that we consider hitting it hard and hitting it fast,” said Rich Armstrong, a Department of Transportation engineer.
“Sections of this road way have a crash rate that is four times higher than other comparable state highways,” Malloy said.
The project could cost between $4 billion and $5 billion dollars, but Malloy says other proposals, like a tunnel or new elevated highway, would be even more expensive.
“I'm with any action, they always weigh things before they take any action,” said Hartford cab owner Hamied Shawahna.
He said he understands construction wouldn’t even begin until at least 2021, but he feels the time is right to move forward.
“Anything that reduces traffic and makes things safer and make me better off staying here, I’m for it,” Shawahna said.
Malloy also said the project would allow chunks of land in three neighborhoods to be open for development, however one person who runs a downtown restaurant worries the construction could cost her business hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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