I-384

7.40 miles fnote(1); east from I-84 in East Hartford to US 6 and 44 in Bolton Notch. Now serves as a Manchester bypass. It's 8 lanes wide west of Route 83, 6 lanes wide to Route 85, and four lanes wide after that.

As of May 31, 1996, it's officially the State Trooper Russell A. Bagshaw Highway.

History:

Interstate 384 was first proposed in 1953, as a relocation of US 6 south of Manchester. Public hearings were held in 1959, and the highway opened in Sept. 1971, from Spencer Street to Bolton Notch. The opening ceremony was delayed when Gov. Meskill's driver, a state trooper from another part of Connecticut, got lost.

In 1968, when the Federal Highway Administration authorized 1,500 additional miles of interstate highways, including a link from Hartford to Providence by way of Manchester. This was originally to be a new eastern Interstate 82.

However, an alternate numbering proposal -- redefine I-84 to extend east to Providence, was adopted in 1971, and I-384 opened late that year signed as I-84.

In the early 1980s, I-84 to Providence was cancelled. I-84 was returned to its original Wilbur Cross Highway alignment (where it is today) and the Manchester part of I-84 became I-384 on Dec. 12, 1984.

For more information, see From Hartford to Providence.

The 1959 plan

Planned US 6/CT 83 interchange, 1959
A seven-ramp interchange was planned at Route 83; by the time it

was built, the two ramps in the southwest quadrant were deleted. Also see entire 1959 Manchester plan (108K).

By the time a public hearing was held in October 1959, an alternative alignment north of Middle Turnpike had already been discarded, and the favored proposal was very close to the way I-384 was constructed in 1971. The interchanges at Spencer Street and South Main Street (Route 83) were revised, and the Gardner Street ramps (see 1959 plan (108K)) were instead built at Wyllys Street. The highway's path south of the business district and higher populated areas minimized the number of properties affected and served as a buffer between the city and the suburban areas further south.

Design features

The interchange at Route 83 in Manchester includes baseball and tennis facilities around the hook ramps in the northeast quadrant; this sense of cohabitation with the surroundings earned I-384 a mention in the US DOT book "A book about space" (TD 2.102:Spl 1968). The article includes a diagram of the Route 83 interchange with a sixth ramp, from I-384 east to Route 83 south, that was not built. (The 1959 plan included seven ramps.)

If that wasn't enough, I-384 also sports a fish-ladder, given similar praise in "A Nation in Motion: Historic American Transportation Sites."

Connecting to the rest of the world

Until the late 1980s, the fish-friendly I-384 did not have a direct connection to I-84, but instead ended at Silver Lane. The interchange with I-84 and I-291 was completed as part of the I-84/86 reconstruction. The first ramp, from I-84 east to I-384 east, opened October 9, 1986.

The state plans an extension of I-384 to Willimantic, to connect with the freeway portion of US 6. This is part of the original I-84 easterly route. This has been running into significant opposition; see the Friends of the Earth editorial. Almost everyone agrees that the "Suicide 6" corridor needs to be improved (it was featured on a Dateline NBC story about unsafe roads) but disagree on how it should be done.

More:

A letter to the Hartford Courant suggested an alternate approach to extending I-384.

"... it puzzled me -- on top of my many other Route 6 puzzlements over these many years -- why I-384 was built northeasterly all the way into Bolton Notch, with a plan to then turn in a distinctly southeasterly direction....

"We all learned in school that, of course, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.... Why don't we start the new expressway at a point where I-384 joins Route 83 in Manchester and strike a direct southeasterly line to the juncture of routes 32 and 6? It appears to me that this could cross the Hop River once, and avoid virtually all of the controversial areas, traveling through what I believe is a much less densely populated path."

Hmmmm.

Quotes:

"Follow 384 [to Providence]. The signs say you can do it. ;-)" - Neil Kelly

"I tried and ended up in a swamp." - Jon Persky

"I made good time going east. I was always on the leading edge of the storm so the rain was relatively tolerable. (For the record I took I-84 east to Hartford, Connecticut, got off at I-695 Expressway which led into State Road 44..." - Rhode Island High Point diary

(It must have been very rainy indeed. "I-695" is actually I-384, and State Road 44 is really US 44.)

Sources:
  • "Transcript of Public Hearing: Relocation of US 6 and Interstate Routes 84 and 491, East Hartford High School, October 19, 1959."
  • "Transcript of Public Hearing: Relocation of US 6, Town of Manchester, October 21, 1959." (Though part of the same project, the Bolton hearing was held separately because Bolton is in a different county.)
  • US Department of Transportation "A book about space." Washington, D. C: 1968.
  • Route Change Notice, ConnDOT, Dec. 31, 1984.
  • Lemery, Conrad. "Route 6 Option." Letter to editor, Hartford Courant, Oct. 4, 1995.
  • (Trooper Lost): Doug Bevins, personal e-mail, "384 anecdote", June 30, 1999.
  • Summers, Stephen. "Interstate Numbering AASHTO & FHWA." Online posting, misc.transport.road, April 18, 2003.