• Summary The original interstate number proposed for Route 52, which is now I-395.
Section of Hartford Courant article, June 14, 1983For a short time, Route 52 (I-395) was being called I-290. Article from the Hartford Courant, June 14, 1983.

I-290 was a proposed renumbering of the old Route 52 freeway in Connecticut and Massachusetts; but the number selected instead, in 1983, was I-395.

The idea of designating Route 52 as an interstate highway dates to the early 1970s. In 1982, two causes spurred the idea forward in Connecticut. The first was the desire to boost the local economy; the second was the set of recent events involving plans for I-84 to Providence.

Rhode Island cancelled its portion of in 1982, but Connecticut still favored extending the highway. It was reported that the federal government would approved the extension only if the endpoint was another interstate highway. (There are plenty of counterexamples, but let that stand.) If Route 52 became an interstate, it would be a natural stopping point for I-84, a few miles short of the state line.

In August 1982, Congressman Sam Gejdenson proposed renumbering Route 52 as an extension of I-290, which already existed in Massachusetts. Gov. William O'Neill asked the U.S. Transportation Secretary to consider the interstate designation, which was approved within a year.

If the I-290 number had stuck, Connecticut would have joined a handful of states (Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey) where a 3-digit interstate enters but its 2-digit parent interstate does not. The extended I-290 would have been more than 87 miles long.

However, in May 1983, Connecticut and Massachusetts decided I-395 was more suitable, as I-290 was well-defined as is; and the state's request for a 2-digit number, if allowed at all, would result in Interstate 99, conflicting with state highways in both states.

I-395 is continuous with I-290 in Massachusetts, and changes number at the I-90 interchange.

I-290 Quotes

"Some previous correspondence has referred to the possibility of this Route being designated as Interstate 290; however, the State of Massachusetts feels that such a number would be misleading since it indicates a closed loop off I-90 under AASHTO guidelines. Although the proposed Interstate connects two major Interstate routes, FHWA officials in Washington were not receptive to a two digit number being used when the two states first approached them about designating route 52 as an Interstate highway. I-99 may be the only available two digit number which substantially meets AASHTO guidelines, but its use would require renumbering Connecticut 99 which traverses six towns in this state and is of considerable length. Connecticut would not accept this number. While I-395 would normally describe a spur connecting with I-95, in balance it appears to be the best choice of the available numbers."

ConnDOT Commissioner, to AASHTO, May 1983

I-290 Sources