Nine proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $10 billion – have made a list of Highway Boondoggles. ConnPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group just published report that includes the proposed widening of I-84 in Danbury. The $715 million project is 4th on the list.
The report found that while congestion is a problem, traffic has been roughly stable over the last 15 years. Daily traffic at one of the highway’s busiest points increased by 5 percent in total between 2000 and 2015.
This comes as ridership on Metro-North has been rising sharply, including on the Danbury branch. Despite including Danbury branch electrification and an extension up to New Milford, the projects are not in the state’s immediate plans. A 2016 state study concluded that “investment in these two improvements is not justified at this time.”
The boondoggle report says Connecticut should prioritize public transportation, as well as repairs to existing highway infrastructure, over expansion projects because of recent trends in rail ridership and vehicle travel, along with research documenting the inability of highway widening to reduce congestion.