Introduction to Connecticut's Best-Loved Highway

Lacking for small talk at a central Connecticut party? Just bring up Interstate 84, the main east-west route through Hartford and its suburbs. Roadgeeks may be fascinated by its roller-coaster profile, or evidence of six cancelled Hartford-area freeways; but most "Muggles" hate it.

Highway engineering is a bit like aircraft engineering, in that successes are taken for granted and mistakes are remembered for a long time. I-84's primary flaw is that it was designed and built far too early (1950s and 1960s), and many of its features (such as left exits, numerous closely-spaced interchanges, tight curves, and frequent lane drops) discouraged in highway construction today are, well, cast in concrete.

I imagine many ConnDOT engineers would like to be able to tear down I-84 and start over; but it would probably be easier to build a new capital city located (like Brasilia) dozens of miles inland.

Here's what some people have had to say about Interstate 84.

3 stars out of 5

"I-84W at the MA border starts out as being a very nice road... six lanes, exits evenly spaced, etc. Then you enter Hartford and all hell breaks loose. First of all, there's the two thru-lanes going through the city; this seems like it was bad planning. Secondly, there were too many left-hand exits for me to count; some only 100 yards or so from a right hand exit! There's the 40 MPH speed limit (which no one actually pays attention to) which is needed because it's so curvy and bumpy. Overall I was NOT impressed with CTDOT here."


Must be as tall as this sign to enter freeway

"Hartford Connecticut has the worst highway system in the US and possibly on earth. Entrances/exits on both sides of the road. Onramps from a dead stop (stopsign) through a blind curve into 60mph traffic with all of an eight of a mile to accelerate. Lanes added on one side to be removed on the other... Exits that go straight while the rest of the highway curves away... Connecticut doesn't have any major amusement parks. Doesn't need them with the spine tingling sense of terror associated with its highways."

Adam Felson

The F stands for Feature

"I-84 has some very interesting bits, for those of you not familiar with it. Interchanges seem very complex, especially compared to the size of the towns they're in. Both thru Hartford and the double-decked section in Waterbury are very HFOTW-ish..."

Nathan Perry, "My 12-hour roadtrip", 7/17/1999

Slang for diddling an intern

"Top Ten Reasons I Can't Be Here (#2): Currently detained by Connecticut state troopers on Route 84."

David Letterman, October 14, 1993


"It was destined not to be."

Gov. William O'Neill, punting on I-84 to Rhode Island, 1983

Coffee is for closers

I've saved the best for last: the highway systems of the Greater Hartford area. There are no straight parts of the highway roads here. Every ramp onto or off of the highway proper is a hairpin turn; consequently, you either have to enter the highway at 30 MPH, or risk loss of life and/or limb by taking the on/off-ramp on two wheels at a speed closer to the speed that those leadfoot drivers are going to be going once you get onto I-84.

Additionally, every lane on the highway serves a different purpose: one is for people going to 91 South, one is for the people going to 91 North, one is for the people staying on I-84 East or West, and the other is, of course, an Exit Only Lane. You literally need to be in the correct lane within 30 seconds of getting onto the highway or, to put it bluntly, you're fucked. If you want to get to I-84, which is the farthest left lane, and you, of course having just entered onto the highway are in the farthest right lane, you sure as hell better get over there right quick. Of course, not only are you in the wrong lane, the majority of everyone else is also in the wrong lane, and everyone's going 80, and some people are panicking and swerving because they're in the Exit Only lane, and so on...

...Source of Rage: the retards who built these highways in the first place. Why did you need to erect a six-lane highway that heads into a city which for the most part no one even wants to be in?

Scowlzine, a Hartford webzine

Robert Moses unmasked

"CT has 1/8mi onramps w/ a 180 degree turn into a blindspot. (for example east hartford, burnside ave. onto I84 Westbound) The blindspot is what makes it extra special. Legend has it that a primary factor with the design of I84 was to clober as many gettos as possible."

Posting to alt.folklore.urban, June 7, 2000, by "TheCentralScrutinizer.196"

(Kurumi's comments on I-84 vs 'clobering the gettos': sometimes rumors and legends have a grain of truth. Robert Moses' comments on the 1949 Arterial Plan for Hartford cited one of the advantages of shifting I-84 to the north as it approached I-91 was to clear out a depressed area and get federal funding for the work. (The names I-84 and I-91 didn't exist at the time of the report, but that's what the freeways eventually became.))