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This 2017 photo shows the northbound I-395 at EXIT 13 (CT 2 Expressway) in Norwich. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)


54.7 miles (88.0 kilometers)

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 1980s (and in some eastern locations in eastern Connecticut, into the early 1990s).

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-1960s, 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-1980s, 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 1960s 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.

NEW MILEAGE-BASED EXIT NUMBERS: In 2013, ConnDOT announced plans to renumber its exits from the current sequential exit numbering scheme to a mileage-based one, as mandated by the 2009 Federally-mandated Manual of Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). I-395 and the CT 2A Expressway were the first two highways to have their exits renumbered under the plan, which ConnDOT plans to implement statewide as signs are replaced in the following two decades. The new signs were installed in late 2015 and early 2016.

This 2017 photo shows the northbound I-395 approaching EXIT 37 (US 6 West) in Danielson. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

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); "A Changing Road Map: Connecticut Highways To Gradually Get New Exit Numbers" by Don Stacom, The Hartford Courant (12/07/2014); Jay Hogan; Scott Oglesby; Alexander R. Svirsky.

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





  • I-395 (Connecticut) exit list by Steve Anderson.

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