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Though it may be overshadowed by a parallel road – Route 169 – one of Connecticut's two nationally recognized Scenic Byways, Route 97 is scenic in its own right. In the south, it follows the banks of the Shetucket River, traveling through the historic neighborhoods of Taftville, Occum and Baltic.

When the Shetucket breaks west, Route 97 veers north, visiting the small towns of Scotland and Hampton; then becomes an official state scenic road for its final 4.5 miles in Pomfret.

Route 97 intersects US 44 twice, and Route 169 twice.

CT 97 History

Commissioned in 1932, Route 97 originally followed this alignment, starting in the south:

In 1934, Route 97 was rerouted straight north from Hampton, crossing the old Route 101 (now US 44), absorbing the "stairstep" Route 201, and ending at old Route 93 (now Route 169).

In the 1960s and '70s, an eastern alignment of Interstate 84 was planned through Hampton en route to Providence. If this had been built, Route 97 would have been widened near the proposed interchange at the Hampton - Scotland town line.

CT 97 north, HamptonFacing north on Route 97 in downtown Hampton, Conn. Just a few buildings make up the center of this quiet town. Light traffic allows the "stand in the middle of the road" view here. Photo taken Sept. 2002 by Kurumi.

Scenic Road in Pomfret

In January 2001, a segment from the Hampton town line to Route 169 in Pomfret was submitted to the state's Scenic Road Advisory Committee. In April 2001, the commission determined that the portion south of US 44 did not provide a "continuous representation of the character or the criteria of a scenic roadway"; in other words, that part of Route 97 wasn't very scenic.

However, the 4.5-mile portion from US 44 to US 44/Route 169 (the aforementioned "stairstep" section) was approved as a scenic road on April 27, 2001. This designation helps protect the road from state modifications that might mar the scenery.

CT 97 Future

Reportedly there is/was a plan to widen Routes 12 and 97 to form a continuous four-lane connection between I-395 near Taftville and I-95 in Groton.

Although Route 97 does not need the large-scale widening planned in conjunction with I-84 to Providence, the road is quite narrow (18 to 20 feet) in northern Scotland and was planned to be reconstructed in 2002 to make it safer.

CT 97 Quotes

"Indeed, one of Pomfret's biggest challenges is its confounding road system--there may be no place in Connecticut where route numbers take this many tangled turns. Signs everywhere declare you are either entering Pomfret, leaving Pomfret or getting on one of three roads, Route 44, 169, or 97. The best tactic is to ignore all these signs and simply give yourself a half hour to become acquainted with the roads."

Getting Lost in Pomfret", Hartford Advocate, Oct. 21, 1999

CT 97 Sources