This 1999 photo shows the northbound I-395 approaching EXIT 77 (CT 85) in Waterford. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

PART OF THE ORIGINAL CONNECTICUT TURNPIKE: In 1954, the Connecticut state legislature authorized construction of the "Greenwich-Killingly Expressway," a 129-mile-long, controlled-access toll superhighway connecting the New York metropolitan area with Rhode Island. The route was to run east-northeast along Long Island Sound from Greenwich to East Lyme (the route of today's I-95), then northeast to Killingly (the route of today's I-395 and CT 695). The 1954 legislation enabled the State Highway Commission to issue construction bonds, which would be covered by tolls and other income. 

Work began on the new superhighway, now called the Connecticut Turnpike, in early 1955. Engineered for a design speed of 60 miles per hour, and a design capacity of 50,000 vehicles per day (AADT), the north-south section of the Connecticut Turnpike was constructed with four lanes between Waterford and Killingly. Like most of the pre-Interstate era turnpikes, a narrow median (topped by a steel guardrail) separated the two carriageways.

The original turnpike exit and destination signs featured white lettering on a blue background, a standard that had been adopted earlier on the New York State Thruway. These pre-MUTCD signs, most of which hung from slim steel gantries, remained on the turnpike well into the 1980's (and in some eastern locations in eastern Connecticut, into the early 1990's).

A NEW ROUTE SERVING EASTERN CONNECTICUT: The $464 million Connecticut Turnpike opened to traffic on January 2, 1958. With the opening of the New England Thruway (I-95) in October of that year, motorists could travel nonstop all the way from the Bronx to the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.

When the Connecticut Turnpike opened, the 93.4 miles between Greenwich and Waterford became part of I-95. (The remaining 18.2 miles of the non-turnpike section of I-95, from Waterford to Connecticut-Rhode Island border, opened to traffic in 1964.) Turning north from Waterford, the remaining 35.6 miles of the Connecticut Turnpike, which did not get a designation until the mid-1960's, eventually received a new designation: CT 52.

CONTINUING NORTH INTO MASSACHUSETTS: Work began in 1964 on a freeway spur of the Connecticut Turnpike extending from the Killingly-Danielson area north to Worcester. The CT 52 Expressway, which was constructed by the Connecticut Highway Department, was to provide connections to the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), I-290, I-190 and I-495 in the Bay State. In addition to forming part of a "Boston bypass" route from coastal Connecticut to northern New England, the $62 million CT 52 Expressway was expected to boost the economy of eastern Connecticut.

Design standards on the four-lane CT 52 Expressway were similar to those on the original Connecticut Turnpike section to the south, except that a narrow, steel-guardrail barrier had been replaced with a wide, variable median. This change reflected contemporary highway design standards.

The initial 11.4-mile section of the CT 52 Expressway between EXIT 90 ("secret" CT 695) and EXIT 97 (US 44) in Putnam opened in 1967. Two years later, the CT 52 Expressway had been extended north to the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. By 1977, when the route was completed in Massachusetts as the MA 52 Expressway, eastern Connecticut now boasted a continuous north-south, controlled-access route between Long Island Sound and northern New England.

YESTERDAY AND TODAY… LEFT: This 1963 aerial photo shows the interchange between I-395 (then known as CT 12, later known as CT 52) and US 6 in Danielson, looking east along US 6. The missing interchange movements at this cloverleaf are provided by the Killingly section of the original Connecticut Turnpike. (Photo by Connecticut Highway Department.) RIGHT: This 2000 aerial photo shows I-395 at EXIT 81 (CT 2 Expressway) in Norwich, looking northeast. (Photo by Greg Amy.)

THE CT 52 EXPRESSWAY BECOMES I-395: In September 1983, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) traded in the Interstate highway mileage for the once-proposed, but never built section of I-84 (between Bolton and the Connecticut-Rhode Island border) for the CT 52 Expressway. The new I-395 designation extended north along the entire 67-mile length of the CT 52-MA 52 Expressway from I-95 north to I-90. (North of I-90, the highway becomes I-290.)

This was not the first attempt at Interstate status for this road. During public hearings held in 1972 and 1973, officials considered a new Interstate corridor extending north from New London, Connecticut to Manchester, New Hampshire. The proposed Interstate would have gone along the existing CT 52, I-290 and I-190 corridors north to Leominster, Massachusetts, and would have continued north along a new corridor to New Hampshire.

Near Norwich, I-395 is dually signed with CT 2A between EXIT 79A (CT 2A Expressway) and EXIT 81 (CT 2 Expressway). However, there are few very CT 2A reassurance shields along this 2.3-mile-long segment.

In the mid-1980's, Governor William O'Neill embarked on a 10-year, $6.56 billion program to reconstruct and rehabilitate Connecticut's roads and bridges. Under this program, which was to be financed by a hike in the state gasoline tax, barrier tolls were to be removed from the Connecticut Turnpike and from the state's bridges.

In 1985, two years after the CT 52 section of the Connecticut Turnpike was integrated into I-395, tolls were removed from the highway. The Connecticut Turnpike shields are no longer posted along this section of the original turnpike.

CURRENT AND FUTURE IMPROVMENTS: According to ConnDOT, Interstate 395 carries approximately 50,000 vehicles per day (AADT) from I-95 in Waterford north to the CT 2 Expressway in Norwich, falling to approximately 30,000 vehicles per day from the CT 2 Expressway north to the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. In 1998, ConnDOT raised the speed limit to 65 MPH along the length of I-395.

In 1999, ConnDOT embarked on a $13 million project to improve I-395 from Norwich north to Plainfield. The project, which includes resurfacing, bridge rehabilitation and safety improvements, was completed in late 2001.

THE LEGACIES OF PLANNERS PAST: In Waterford, there is an incomplete interchange between I-95 and I-395. Motorists cannot access I-395 northbound from I-95 southbound, and cannot access I-95 northbound from I-395 southbound. Plans since the 1960's have called for the missing movements to be provided with the completion of the CT 11 Expressway through this area.

Some plans called for the I-95 / I-395 / CT 11 interchange to serve as part of the eastern approach of the Eastern Long Island Sound Crossing. One ambitious plan dating from the early 1960's called for I-395 to extend south to Fishers Island, and join the remainder of the Eastern Long Island Sound Crossing (I-495) to Orient Point, New York.

This 1999 photo shows the northbound I-395 approaching EXIT 81 (CT 2 Expressway) in Norwich. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

The exit numbering scheme should be reset to one at the southern terminus of I-395 in Waterford. At this location, a complete interchange should be constructed between I-395, I-95 and the proposed CT 11 Expressway.

The new exits along I-395 should be numbered as follows (old exits in parentheses):

EXIT 1 (76): I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike)
EXIT 2 (--): CT 11 Expressway (proposed)
EXIT 3 (77): CT 85
EXIT 4 (78): CT 32
EXIT 5 (79): CT 163
EXIT 6 (79A): CT 2A Expressway
EXIT 7 (80): CT 82
EXIT 8 (81): CT 2 Expressway and CT 32
EXIT 9 (82): Yantic (to CT 2 Expressway and CT 32)
EXIT 10 (83): CT 97
EXIT 11 (83A): CT 169
EXIT 12 (84): CT 12
EXIT 13 (85): CT 164-CT 138
EXIT 14 (86): CT 201
EXIT 15 (87): Lathrop Road
EXIT 16 (88): CT 14A
EXIT 17 (89): CT 14
EXIT 18 (90): (unsigned) CT 695 to US 6
EXIT 19 (91): US 6
EXIT 20 (92): South Killingly-Danielson
EXIT 21 (93): CT 101
EXIT 22 (94): Attawaugen-Ballouville
EXIT 23 (95): Kennedy Drive
EXIT 24 (96): CT 12
EXIT 25 (97): US 44
EXIT 26 (98): CT 12
EXIT 27 (99): CT 200
EXIT 28 (100): East Thompson-Wilsonville

SOURCES: "Connecticut Turnpike To Be Opened to Traffic Today," The New York Times (1/02/1958); "Connecticut's 129-Mile, $464 Million Turnpike Is Opened to Traffic" by Richard H. Parke, The New York Times (1/03/1958); "Dates Set To Open New Route from the Bronx to Rhode Island" by Merrill Folsom, The New York Times (7/18/1958); Regional Highways: Status Report, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1962); Connecticut Highways (1959-1963), Connecticut Highway Department (1963); Connecticut Highway Needs, Connecticut Highway Department (1967); Planning for the Future, Connecticut Highway Department (1968); "Relocation of US 6: Administrative Action Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement," Federal Highway Administration and Connecticut Department of Transportation (1984); "Truck Stop and Rest Area Parking Study," Connecticut Department of Transportation (2000); Jay Hogan; Scott Oglesby; Alexander R. Svirsky.

  • I-395 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • CT 52 shield by Scott Oglesby.
  • Connecticut Turnpike shield by James Lin.
  • Lightposts by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.

INTERSTATE 395 LINKS:

INTERSTATE 395 VIDEO LINK:

INTERSTATE 395 CURRENT CONDITIONS:

OFF-SITE EXIT LISTINGS:

VIEW OR SUBMIT YOUR RATING TO RATETHEROADS.COM:

  • Interstate 395 (Connecticut)

Back to The Roads of Metro New York home page.

Site contents © by Eastern Roads. This is not an official site run by a government agency. Recommendations provided on this site are strictly those of the author and contributors, not of any government or corporate entity.