A proposal to ease congestion on Interstate 95 in
Connecticut by allowing drivers to use the breakdown lanes for travel has been
While a report to the state’s Transportation Strategy Board
shows the idea would reduce gridlock during commuting hours, the analysis also
found that it could increase traffic accidents by as much as 15 percent.
Last year, then-Gov. John Rowland suggested the state
consider a six-month pilot project that would open the lanes during morning and
evening rush hours on I-95 between Stamford and Westport.
Rowland said the state could prevent accidents by stationing
a trooper along the stretch of highway between exits 8 and 18 to help remove
disabled vehicles. The Connecticut Department of Transportation compiled the
analysis at his request.
Edgar Hurle, director of transportation planning at ConnDOT,
told The Associated Press the agency had public meetings to gauge
support for opening up the breakdown lanes. Of the several hundred people who
attended the meetings, only two or three favored the idea, he said.
The highway agency determined that congestion would be eased
if the lanes were used during rush hour. But Hurle said drivers’ visibility
would be impaired and that overpasses would pose problems.
Truckers could have trouble exiting and entering the highway
with traffic in breakdown lanes, he said. Also, emergency vehicles might have
difficulty getting through traffic with no place for motorists to pull over.
Hurle told the news agency he tried driving in the breakdown
lane as an experiment and didn’t enjoy the experience.
“I scared the bejesus out of myself that day,” he said.
As an alternative, ConnDOT is recommending the state build
auxiliary or “speed change” lanes between exits similar to the southbound
stretch of I-95 between exits 9 and 7 in Stamford.