Originally built as an alternative to US 1 in the 1930s, Route 80 is used by some as an alternate to crowded I-95 today.

The road is four lanes wide for about 1.75 mile between I-91 and Mill Street in East Haven; and four lanes for a bit of the Route 22 overlap (see photo) leading to Route 139 in Branford.

Routes 80 and 22 in North BranfordLooking east along Routes 80 and 22, just after they join in North Branford. Photo taken by Kurumi in September 2002.

CT 80 History

Route 80 was commissioned in 1932 from the 1920s State Highway 175. At the same time, the road was being rebuilt as a 40-foot-wide inland alternative to the congested US 1 east of New Haven. Route 80 served as the model for the Merritt Highway in Stratford, which was later redesigned as the four-lane divided Merritt Parkway.

Route changes - west

At a period during the 1950s, Route 80 extended west to Route 10 in New Haven, along Munson St and Henry St; it was rolled back to Route 17 in 1962.

Route changes - east

In the east, Route 80 originally ended in Deep River, as now. In 1941, possibly to emphasize its role as a US 1 bypass, it was rerouted and extended to US 1 in Old Saybrook. Its route, branching southeast from present-day Route 80 in Deep River, was:

On Jan. 2, 1967, shortly after Route 9 opened in the area, the state announced Route 80 would once again follow W. Elm St. and Elm St. to Deep River.

Widening in New Haven area

Route 80 was widened to four lanes east of Route 17 in the 1980s, and widened to four lanes at Route 22 in 2001.

Freeway Plans

In the 1940s, the New Haven Postwar Master Plan included Route 80 as a freeway/boulevard from Route 10 eastward into Branford. There would be interchanges at Route 10, US 5, and US 5A (now Route 103).

Furthermore, a 1967 state "Grid Analysis" future needs map proposed a freeway along Route 80 and Route 82 from New Haven to Norwich.

CT 80 Future

More widening in North Branford planned

A short segment of the Route 80/22 overlap near Twin Lakes Road was widened to four lanes in 2001. The state plans to extend this four-lane profile eastward to just east of where Route 22 (Notch Hill Road) leaves Route 80. The planned project also improves intersections at Route 139, Route 22, Great Hill Road, Cedar Lake and Commerce Drive.

The $7.9 million project was to start in fall 2001 and last for about 2 years. It was even moved up 4 months earlier, in order to be complete before work on the anticipated massive I-95 widening project began.

However, historical preservation concerns and state funding issues caused a two-year delay. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in June 2003.

Revised interchange at I-91/Route 17: moribund?

The state was planning an upgrade to the interchange at I-91 (exit 8) and Route 17. A public hearing was held on Oct. 22, 1997. What they wanted to do (I haven't heard anything about it since then):

Scenic road designation sought in Madison

In February 2003, Madison officials announced their intent to have US 1 in town designated a state scenic road. They said they would follow this up with an application for Route 80 between the Killingworth Town Line and Dream Lake; and also for Route 79.

Route 80 has some scenic ledges in the area and should be a "no-brainer" for the designation, in the words of a town Planning and Zoning Commission alternate.

CT 80 Quotes

"If you don't drive down Route 80 every morning, you can't imagine what it's like. It's bumper to bumper."

North Branford Mayor Joanne Wentworth, October 1999, in New Haven Register

CT 80 Sources