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DOT plan aims to reduce rear-end accidents at Route 34/15
Jim Shay
ORANGE - With the goals of reducing the number of rear-end crashes and easing congestion, a redesigned southbound Route 15 entrance ramp from Route 34 east is in the works.
The state Department of Transportation’s Office of Engineering is developing plans to widen the highway and add an acceleration lane for traffic merging onto southbound Route 15 at Exit 57.
Now, drivers have to stop at a stop sign and wait for traffic to pass before they can safely merge on the parkway.
Besides many rear-end collisions, there is often a line of vehicles waiting to get onto the highway, especially during the morning commute.
The new on-ramp would have no stop sign and add a more direct - and safer - route onto the Wilbur Cross Parkway. DOT says, “the project involves widening Route 15 for the acceleration lane, which will require tree removal and modifying pavement markings. Additionally, all four inner loop ramps will be milled and overlaid with high friction pavement.” The present schedule has the design to be completed in June 2021, with construction anticipated to start in spring 2022, “assuming acceptance of the project, availability of funding and receipt of any required right-of-way and environmental permits.”

Lamont’s transportation plan aims to slice 15 minutes off Metro-North commutes
New York City could get a little closer under a proposal by Gov. Ned Lamont to cut the Metro-North commute by as much as 15 minutes.
“Metro-North is the backbone for this state," Lamont said in remarks to retailers Wednesday at The Bushnell in Hartford. "The fact that it takes 10, 15 minutes longer to take that train [to New York] than it did a generation ago is a real killer.’’Lamont’s plan — part of a soon-to-be unveiled $18 billion transportation strategy — could reduce the trip from New Haven to Grand Central to about an hour and 40 minutes.The governor is expected to propose a variety of upgrades to the state’s transportation network, from reducing traffic congestion in Fairfield County to improving regional airports.At least $5 billion of the proposed funds will go toward upgrading the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, the Shore Line East railroad, and the Hartford Line railroad, Lamont’s spokesman Max Reiss said Wednesday. The governor hopes to purchase 100 new rail cars and spread them across the three lines.Lamont will also propose improving Metro-North tracks between Greenwich and New Haven, eliminating curves in order to potentially shave 15 minutes off of commuters’ travel time, Reiss said.With improving Metro-North a high priority, Lamont said that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged cooperation to upgrade the system that brings commuters from Connecticut to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.“He’s agreed we’re going to work together on this — that it’s just as important for him as it is for us,’’ Lamont told reporters Wednesday. “He sees a lot of New York City’s expansion up through Westchester County into Connecticut and access there is really important for workforce on both sides of our border.’’In his transportation plan, Lamont will also propose repairing three railroad bridges along the shoreline — in Devon, Cos Cob and Saugatuck — in order to reduce delays, Reiss said.The importance of fixing the railroad bridge in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich was highlighted during the first State Bond Commission meeting that was held by Lamont under his “debt diet.’’ While numerous other projects have been delayed in communities across the state, Lamont placed the Cos Cob bridge on the first meeting’s agenda, where the commission voted unanimously to allocate $20 million to help repair the aging railroad bridge over the Mianus River in Greenwich. The more-than-century-old bridge was originally constructed in 1904, but the most recent major rehabilitation was conducted back in 1989.The extensive repairs on the steel, along with electrical and mechanical systems, will help the Cos Cob bridge to remain operational for the next two decades, officials said. Lamont also envisions express service on the Waterbury branch of Metro-North, enhancing the line through basic infrastructure upgrades, an expanded signal system, and new dual-powered locomotives. A refurbished Waterbury line would enable direct service to New York City.“We currently have a rail line on the Waterbury branch that was designed 60 to 70 years ago, and becoming part of the New York economy was never considered,” Reiss said. A key issue in transportation is that money raised from tolls cannot be used to fix the railroads. Instead, Lamont hopes Connecticut can take advantage of federal programs that offer low-interest loans for infrastructure projects.“There is federal money — very low-cost federal money — that allows us to fix some signalization, allows us to fix some [railroad] bridges, and do the same on the New York side of the border that can really take 10, 15 minutes off that commute, which will be absolutely invaluable,’’ Lamont said Wednesday. “We’ve got to get in line for it. They don’t just automatically give it to us."  While Lamont has promised that his updated transportation plan will be unveiled in the coming weeks, he declined Wednesday to release a precise date. Instead, he wants to talk further with Republican legislative leaders about the details. “I just don’t want to get ahead of myself,’’ Lamont said. “I want to make sure when we roll this out, we have as many people on board as we can.’’

Lamont wants more ‘people on board’ before rolling out transportation plan
Gov. Ned Lamont told the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association that every single business person he has spoken to has told him that getting people around the state is key to its economic future and economic development.
“I’m trying to roll out a plan that is doable and finite and can make a difference now,” Lamont told some of Connecticut’s most powerful retailers at their annual meeting at the Bushnell.
Lamont said he’s talking to legislative leadership on a daily basis about the transportation proposal, but “I just don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
“I want to make sure that when we roll this out we have as many people on board as we can,” he added.
Senate Democrats have said they’re not interested in voting on a transportation plan that includes tolls if there’s no Republican support. Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, is currently reviewing the proposal, but has yet to indicate whether he would support it.
Lamont, a Greenwich millionaire who has been described by some as folksy, said he understands that the “middle class is getting hammered and they don’t trust their politicians.”
“When it comes to fixing our roads and bridges the Trump federal transportation [department] is very clear: that money by law can only go to that road or bridge that’s being repaired,” Lamont said.
Once the roads and bridges are paid for in 10 years, the toll will come down, Lamont said.
He said the state has about 12 to 15 choke points on its highways and if he can get rid of those it would save 15 to 20 minutes a day for commuters in certain areas of the state.
“We don’t have to rebuild our highways but if we can fix a couple of these chokepoints I can take 20 minutes to a half-an-hour off your commute,” Lamont said.
The other thing Lamont wants to do is speed up rail.
“Metro-North is the backbone for this state,” Lamont said. “The fact that it takes 10 to 15 minutes longer to take that train today than it did a generation ago is a real killer.”
Lamont conceded that he’s going to need help from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but joked the two have become best friends following a pair of meetings over the past three months.
“He’s agreed we’re going to work together on this,” Lamont said. “It’s just as important for him as it is for us. '

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