Key Exit Ramp Closes for a Year in Connecticut as Mixmaster Project Continues

Thu October 01, 2020 - Northeast Edition
CEG



The Mixmaster is the nickname of the Connecticut Route 8/Interstate 84 interchange in Waterbury, a series of 10 bridges that intertwine in the city and the Naugatuck Valley.

It's also one of the state's most important interchanges as 200,000 cars and trucks travel the array of roadways every day.

The complexities of the 50-year-old elevated, double-decked, high-speed interchange, with left- and right-hand entrance and exit ramps over city streets and the Naugatuck River, make it unique in Connecticut. The number of vehicles traveling through the interchange each day is triple the amount of traffic it first carried when it was constructed in the 1960s.

So, in 2018, the state decided the time had come for a major $153 million repair and rehabilitation project on the Mixmaster.

That was the good news for motorists that regularly navigate the old interchange.

The downside for drivers, at least in the short term, is that on Sept. 25, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) closed the ramp at Exit 33 that leads cars and trucks from Route 8 northbound to I-84 westbound for the next year.

The state agency noted on its website's Mixmaster project page that the 12-month-long closure is necessary to complete rehabilitation work to a bridge that conveys traffic from Route 8 to I-84.

Chicago-based Walsh Construction Co. is performing the rehab of the Mixmaster interchange in Waterbury. The contractor and its crews are two years into fixing the interchange, one that has noticeably aged since it was first built in the '60s.

The overall Mixmaster project consists of upgrades to numerous bridges located within the Route 8 and I-84 Interchange. The CTDOT wants to preserve and provide a 25-year service life to the structures and to ensure their structural integrity. Walsh Construction's crews have been making deck repairs and replacements, as well as repairs to the steel, substructures, joints and other improvements to the bridges and overpasses.

In an effort to facilitate the repairs while providing safe and efficient passage for all motorists, the contractor built a temporary bypass consisting of three temporary bridges (two over the Naugatuck River and one over Freight Street) to carry Route 8 Northbound traffic through the interchange. To construct the bypass, southbound Riverside Street, west of Route 8, was converted from a one-way road into a bi-directional street. Northbound Riverside Street is closed to local traffic, as is I-84 westbound Exit 32 to Riverside Street northbound.

The newest work will impact drivers coming north to Waterbury from places like Naugatuck and Ansonia from Route 8 who would normally take Exit 33 to I-84 to head to places like Southbury, Woodbury and Danbury.

Kenny Stanco, the project liaison of Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary, told WTHN-TV that the rehab project is important in keeping the Mixmaster safe for the next 25 years.

"It's going to be a much smoother, safer ride for drivers," Stanco said. "When this project is done, you're going to see new pavement, new parapets — those are the walls on the side of the highway on the bridges. You're also going to see new railings, new signs and markings on the streets."

He added that 80 percent of the funds to rehab the Mixmaster project will come from the federal government, with the remaining 20 percent to be provided by the state.

Stanco reported that the entire overall Rt. 8/I-84 Mixmaster project should be finished in the spring of 2022.

As for the closure of the Exit 33 ramp, he hopes drivers will be patient in the name of progress and a safer Mixmaster.