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Route 8 U-turn to I-84 East in Waterbury to go Live July 15
July 5th, 2019
REPUBLICAN AMERICAN: July 5, 2019
Route 8 U-Turn to I-84 East in Waterbury to Go live july 15
BY ANDREW LARSON
WATERBURY — Traveling from Route 8 northbound to Interstate 84 eastbound will soon require a U-turn from one side of the highway to the other.
Starting July 15, the state Department of Transportation will close Route 8 northbound’s Exit 31, which leads to I-84 eastbound. Using the turnaround will enable vehicles to transfer onto the eastbound direction of I-84 from Route 8 southbound — without having to exit the highway.
“It will be a significant change to the public to allow this to occur,” said Jim Pelletier, assistant resident engineer for the project.
The U-turn is scheduled to go live at the same time as the Exit 31 closes. Northbound vehicles on Route 8 will take Exit 35 toward Route 73 and bear left at the fork, following signs for Route 8 southbound and I-84 eastbound.
The speed limit on the U-turn is 15 mph. Three sets of rumble strips and flashing beacons will warn drivers to slow down before they enter the sharp curve. Along the curve, motorists will be guided by flashing LED chevron signs. Also, overhead lights have been installed so the area will also be fully lit at night.
The U-turn was designed to handle all types of vehicles, including trucks and tractor-trailers.
Still, the DOT believes accidents will occur. Engineers opted for a concrete barrier instead of a metal guardrail, which would have to be repaired every time it was struck. The barriers are designed to push vehicles back onto the roadway, with minimal damage.
Ultimately, the trick to safely navigating the U-turn falls on drivers.
“People will find if they’re going more than 15 mph it’s going to feel too fast,” Pelletier said.
Once headed in the southbound direction, drivers will merge to the far left and continue on the exit-only I-84 eastbound lane to Exit 31.
In the northbound direction, the Exit 31 closure will last until the end of October.
Meanwhile, traffic is set to be diverted onto the temporary Route 8 northbound bypass in September. That will allow workers to rebuild the bridge deck of the existing northbound lanes, which has deteriorated to the point of needing to be replaced.
Even though work on the northbound Exit 31 ramp should be finished in October, it will remain inaccessible from Route 8 northbound during the deck replacement.
The U-turn is expected to remain in use for about two years.
The $153 million Mixmaster rehabilitation began in April 2018 and is set to be finished by September 2022. The DOT’s contractor is Walsh Construction of Massachusetts.
The work is meant to extend the life of the Mixmaster, which serves as the Route 8 and I-84 interchange, for another 25 years or until it can be replaced.