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Project 0082-0318 - Route 9 Middletown

Removal of Traffic Signals on Route 9 in Middletown

Route 9 - Middletown, CT; Animation

About the Project:

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is currently developing plans to remove two traffic signals on Route 9 to improve safety and reduce congestion. The project is located on Route 9 from Exit 22 near Silver St. in Middletown to Exit 25 at Route 99 in Cromwell.

Connecticut Route 9 is a north/south running freeway except for a short section of non-freeway in the downtown Middletown area where it overlaps with Route 17. This section of Route 9 stretches for approximately 0.36 miles from Exit 23c at Washington Street to Exit 24 at Hartford Avenue and includes two at-grade signalized intersections. These signalized intersections contribute to significant crashes and delays. The three year crash history (January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023) shows that there were 505 crashes resulting in 161 injuries within the project limits on Route 9 alone. This means that Route 9 currently experiences an average of one crash every other day and an injury once per week.

The intersection of Route 9 and Hartford Avenue at Exit 24 provides access between Route 9 and the Arrigoni Bridge, which connects Middletown and Portland over the Connecticut River. This signalized intersection provides full access to and from Route 9. This location has a high number of crashes, the majority being rear-end, that can be directly attributed to the signals.

Hartford Avenue Existing

At Exit 23c, Route 9 intersects with Washington Street and deKoven Drive at a large, signalized intersection over an at-grade railroad crossing. Washington Street leads to Route 66, providing connectivity to eastern and western portions of the state. This intersection provides full access from Route 9 and access to Route 9 south. Access to Route 9 northbound is not provided at this intersection.

Washington Existing

The congestion caused by these two signals is not limited to Route 9, but rather causes significant delays in downtown Middletown, especially in the North End and across the Arrigoni Bridge.

Project Improvements:

A new off-ramp is proposed on Route 9 northbound at River Road to serve as the primary access for northbound exiting vehicles. A three leg roundabout will calm freeway traffic to downtown speeds and serve as a gateway feature to the riverfront. The proposed off-ramp requires the acquisition of a portion of a superfund site owned by RLO Properties as well as several minor acquisitions of City property.

River Road Off-Ramp Rendering

The intersection of River Road and Harbor Drive will be reconfigured to prioritize River Road, accommodating the vehicles coming from Route 9 northbound. A right turn lane will be added to Union Street to help encourage vehicles to use deKoven Drive for connection to the Arrigoni Bridge and Route 66. This right turn lane will require a sliver acquisition of the Middletown Plate Glass property. An additional pedestrian crossing is being provided on Union Street at the railroad crossing to improve pedestrian connectivity to the Connecticut River and proposed developments. A multi-use trail on the east side of River Road will provide a riverfront walk and provide a multi-modal connection from downtown to proposed development areas.

Exit 23c is a large, complicated intersection comprised of two signals at the convergence of Route 9, Washington Street, and deKoven Drive that also includes an active at-grade railroad crossing. The layout of this intersection has led to numerous wrong way freeway entrances and a significant number of crashes and injuries. The ramp to Route 9 southbound will remain, while the access from both directions of Route 9 will be removed. This not only removes the dangerous traffic signal from Route 9 but also reduces the number of vehicles on Washington Street between Route 9 and Main Steet by approximately 40%. The removal of the traffic signal at Exit 23c will improve safety and essentially eliminate the possibility of wrong way entrances to Route 9.

Washington Street Rendering

The traffic signal at Exit 24 will be removed, and access to Route 9 northbound will be converted from an at-grade signalized intersection to a grade separated free flow interchange. The removal of this signal not only reduces the possibility of wrong way entrances and improves safety, but it causes the signal at Saint John’s Square to work significantly more efficiently. With the signal removed, vehicles approaching Route 9 will flow freely onto northbound and southbound. This removes the queue from Hartford Avenue eastbound and in turn provides more green time to Main Street, effectively eliminating the queue on Route 66 westbound over the Arrigoni Bridge. In order to provide a safe interchange, access from Route 9 northbound to Hartford Ave must be removed.

Hartford Avenue Rendering

The primary travel path from Route 9 Northbound to the Arrigoni Bridge will be deKoven Drive to Rapallo Avenue. As such, Rapallo Avenue will be converted to one-way towards Main Street in order to prioritize this movement. By converting Rapallo Avenue to one-way, we are able to accommodate this new movement while maintaining all 21 on street parking spaces and only requiring one foot of widening on the north side of the road. This configuration will also improve the pedestrian safety of the crossing along Main Street, and eliminate the current observed illegal left turns onto Rapallo Avenue from Main Street southbound.

Rapallo Ave Rendering

A roundabout is proposed at Exit 22 to calm traffic and provide an acceptable queue length on the off ramp. The roundabout will encourage low speeds and improve the efficiency. Sliver acquisitions are anticipated to fit the roundabout at this location.

Exit 22

Northbound trucks destined for the Arrigoni Bridge will be encouraged to use Exit 25 and reverse direction to use the Route 9 southbound access to Saint John’s Square and the Arrigoni Bridge. A roundabout is proposed at the Route 99 interchange to improve the safety and viability of that movement.

Exit 25

Variable message signs will be used to alert drivers to any roadway closures or incidents in the area. If needed, these signs can be used to reroute northbound vehicles headed to the Arrigoni Bridge up to Exit 25 in Cromwell where they can then take Route 9 southbound back to Exit 24 to go over the bridge. Not only is this route a good option for incident management, but it also provides an efficient route, especially for trucks, that is only two minutes longer to get to over the Arrigoni Bridge than if they had taken the new off-ramp to River Road. This route, while being a slightly longer duration, is anticipated to be the preferred route for trucks over navigating deKoven Drive and Rapallo Avenue to access the Arrigoni Bridge from Route 9 northbound.

Variable Message Sign

A separate project, CTDOT project number 0082-0327, has been initiated to design and construct a pedestrian bridge over Route 9 to provide better connectivity to the riverfront. This project is in its infancy but will be coordinated with the signal removal project as it progresses. The following image depicts a conceptual depiction of the bridge from the City of Middletown’s architectural consultant, between Court Street and Dingwall Drive.

Pedestrian Bridge

Project History:

CTDOT has shown interest in removing the traffic signals on Route 9 in Middletown since the early 2000’s. The public has been engaged multiple times and has historically shown support of the removal of the signals, yet haven’t been in support of the design alternatives previously presented. After the 2018 public engagement, the traffic model was expanded and further analysis was performed. An origin-destination study was conducted to gain the knowledge of the network to accurately redistribute vehicles in the proposed design. Additional alternatives were investigated, leading to the proposed design which proposes providing access by means of a new off-ramp at River Road. This alternative was originally proposed by the City of Middletown as a method to remove the traffic signals by using the existing infrastructure. The existing bridge carrying Route 9 over Union Street provides the opportunity to convey traffic under Route 9 for northbound exiting vehicles.

CTDOT held two workshops in February of 2024 to discuss all of the alternatives and better refine the design. At these workshops, significant support was shown in favor of the proposed design, Alternative 11. Following the workshop, the elected officials of the surrounding cities and towns have provided their full support of the project. A public information and CEPA Scoping meeting was held on April 30, 2024 to inform the public of the design and provide an opportunity to comment. The comment period ends May 16, 2024. Please see the following YouTube link to a recording of the presentation: 0082-0318 April 2024 Public Info & CEPA Scoping Presentation

Proposed Design
click image to view larger


Thank you to all that attended the April 30, 2024 Public Informational and CEPA Scoping meeting! The recording has been posted on YouTube at the following link: 0082-0318 April 2024 Public Info & CEPA Scoping Presentation

CTDOT Provides Updates on Completed and Ongoing Projects in Middletown

Completed Projects

CTDOT Project# 0082-0319 constructed 18 sidewalk bump outs on Main Street in 2019 between Union Street and Washington Street. These bump outs occupy unused space on the corners of the intersections and reduce pedestrian crossing distances to improve safety. By bumping out the sidewalk closer to the travel ways, the pedestrians are more visible to approaching motorists and exposed to traffic for a shorter time as they cross the roadway. Reducing the pedestrian crossing distance also allows more green time to be allocated to Main Street, encouraging vehicles to travel on Main Street instead of cutting through local residential streets.

CTDOT Project# 0082-0320 provided safety and operational improvements to Saint John’s Square in 2020. This project provided sidewalk bump outs north of Washington Street, similar to CTDOT Project# 82-319. Additionally, two turn lanes were added, and geometric improvements were provided at Saint John’s Square to reduce congestion and improve safety. The traffic signal configuration in this area has been designed to encourage drivers to travel down Main Street instead of cutting through local residential streets. By improving the geometrics and operations of Saint John’s Square, Main Street becomes the more desirable route for traffic coming off the Arrigoni Bridge and heading to destinations west of downtown.

Ongoing Projects

CTDOT Project# 0082-0316

CTDOT has started construction of Project 0082-0316 – Reconfiguration of the Route 17 Northbound On-ramp to Route 9 Northbound in Middletown, which will help reduce rear-end crashes at the Route 9 northbound and Route 17 northbound interchange. The existing on-ramp from Route 17 onto Route 9 is controlled by a stop sign and has significantly higher crash rates than similar adjacent on-ramps.

CTDOT Project# 0082-0322 is the closure of the Miller Street access to Route 9. Currently, the only legal access into and out of the Miller Street neighborhood is directly from Route 9 southbound because Bridge Street and Portland Street are separated by an at-grade railroad crossing that is only open to pedestrians and emergency vehicles. This project required a legislation modification to legally open the at-grade railroad crossing for daily use by all users. By opening this railroad crossing, direct access to downtown will be provided on the local roadway network for the residents of the Miller Street neighborhood. Construction has recently started for the project and is expected to be completed by late Fall 2024.

CTDOT Project# 0082-0327 has been initiated to construct a wide pedestrian bridge across Route 9 in the vicinity of Court Street and Dingwall Drive. In addition to providing access to Harbor Park across Route 9, the pedestrian bridge will serve as a destination, wide enough for landscaping and sitting areas. Connection to both sides of the pedestrian bridge will be coordinated with Middletown Officials.

While the previously mentioned projects are necessary to remove the traffic signals on Route 9, they also have independent utility. Independent utility means each of these projects was determined to have an individual benefit that does not require removing the traffic signals to constitute a successful project.

Anyone interested in requesting information on any of the projects mentioned above may contact Stephen Hall, Project Manager, at (860) 594-2591 or Stephen.Hall@ct.gov.