US 202 is born
In June 1934, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) approved a multi-state request to establish a new route—US 202—from Bangor, Maine to State Road, Delaware. This was one of several new routes, including US 44, proposed to encourage tourism. The route change took place in 1935.
In Connecticut, the original US 202 alignment, southwest to northeast, was:
- Mill Plain Road and Lake Avenue, New York state line to where I-84 crosses today at exit 4 in Danbury (present-day US 6 and 202)
- Lake Avenue and West Street, from I-84 exit to Main Street, Danbury (now local roads)
- Main Street and South Street (today's Route 53) to Greenwood Ave (today's Route 302) in Bethel
- today's Route 302, entire length, and section of Main Street to US 6, Newtown
- overlap with US 6 to Scott Swamp Road (now SR 552), Farmington
- Scott Swamp Road, leading from US 6 to Route 10 (as they are grade-separated).
- overlap with Route 10 in Farmington to Massachusetts state line
In short, outside of Danbury, Bethel and Newtown (and the very short section in Farmington) the US 202 designation in Connecticut was redundant, simply overlapping with established routes.
From 1932 to 1934, the roads that would become the non-overlapped parts of US 202 were parts of longer routes 34 and 58. When US 202 was created in 1935, Route 34 was truncated to US 6 at Sandy Hook, and Route 58 was truncated to US 202 in Bethel.
Major reroute in 1974
On May 1, 1974, US 202 was rerouted in Fairfield and Litchfield counties, giving the highway many more miles to itself. In Danbury, the revised US 202 overlapped US 7 to New Milford, then took over former Route 25 to US 44 in Canton. There, the revised US 202 overlapped US 44 eastward into Avon, where it then rejoined the original alignment with Route 10 into Massachusetts. The DOT had proposed this in August 1972. Litchfield officials opposed the move, fearing the new designation would bring more traffic.
US 202 has remained at the 1974 alignment to this day. When the US 7 freeway opened in Brookfield, the US 7 designation was moved there, but US 202 remained on Federal Road.
Past route changes along today's US 202
The segment of today's US 202 from Torrington to Canton was originally part of Route 4, with some slight changes: the direct connection from the vicinity of Nepaug Reservoir to US 44 did not exist until it opened on Oct. 20, 1961. Before that, motorists followed Torrington Avenue (part of which is gone), Maple Avenue and Dowd Avenue to US 44. In 1963, this segment of Route 4 became Route 25.
The US 44/US 202 split, a channelized surface intersection, was originally conceived as an interchange, where US 44 eastbound and US 202 westbound would be grade-separated. However, the the federal government, who were funding 50% of the cost, balked at the expense and pushed for the cheaper solution.
Freeway proposals, early 1960s
In 1961, state legislators submitted a bill to upgrade US 202 to a freeway from Southbury through Watertown, Thomaston, Plymouth, Bristol and Farmington. At the time, US 202 overlapped with US 6 through these towns. The bills were still in progress in later 1962, but the proposal eventually died.
Route change proposed in Avon and Simsbury, 1978
In January 1978, Avon officials explored moving the US 202 designation to Route 167, to divert some traffic from the town center on US 44. Route 167 would have kept its designation south of US 44, but would have become part of US 202 north of US 44.
Simsbury's agreement would be needed before the renumbering process, which could take up to a year, could begin. Simsbury officials were concerned about increased traffic past the town's high school, located on Route 167.
The move to change US 202's designation was eventually tabled.