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How Safe Is I-395 in Norwich?

While many criticized the safety of the I-395 Norwich exits 81E, 81W, and 82 interchanges, the DOT contends that statistics do not cite this to be an area with a high rate of accidents.

Some of the most closely spaced exits on Interstate 395 North are in Norwich, with three that have ramps that are within one fourth of a mile of each other.

Exits 81E (Route 2 East) and 81W (Route 2 West) are the most problematic. 

Traffic from Route 2 East enters close to where drivers exit for Route 2 West which is only feet away from the exit 82 Norwichtown interchange. 

Drivers Thoughts

“Everything in that section of 395 is way too close together. You have to floor it to get in or out - it truly is pretty dangerous,” said Mike Riccardi, adding “you really should have more than 50 feet to merge especially if you’ve got crossing traffic trying to get in to take the next exit.” 

Scott Ennis agreed calling this a “very dangerous area” while Fayth Lynne Herman added that “those exits are awful, (there are) accidents there all the time.”

Alanna Guy explained “that’s a pretty hairy area, very tricky to navigate. Luckily, I grew up there so I know to be cautious. I’m sure it is much worse for people passing thru or new to the location.”

It’s not just the infrastructure but also drivers that make the interchange unsafe. 

“It wouldn’t be such a troubled area if people were just virtuous and learned how to merge and not wait 50 feet for the exit,” said Kevin Fusconi.

“I hate having to take the exit to Route 2 or back to 395 when a tractor trailer is there,” explained Melissa Clark. “Guess who wins every time.”

Anna Marie Andrzeicik Lussier said she avoids the area entirely, 

“I go through Bozrah and hop on 395 by the bowling alley exit when I’m heading north.” 

Rachel Cookson disagreed saying, “I go all that way all the time to my friend’s house and never had a problem!” 

The Statistics

According to Kevin Nursick, spokesman from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, statistics show that the rate of accidents is “fairly typical for limited access highways”.

There have been 393 crashes on the 4.2-mile stretch of I-395 from exit 79A to exit 82.

Traffic volume varies from 36,700 at exit 82 to 63,200 at the Montville/Norwich line.

Of the 393 accidents, 331 had property damage only, three resulted in serious injuries and three were fatalities.

The top five primary contributing factors were following too closely, driver losing control, speeding too fast for conditions, improper lane change, and failure to grant right of way.

Deaths

A fatality on I-395 south near exit 81 was caused on April 5, 2009 due to driving under the influence while a July 16, 2009 fatality on I-395 south near exit 79A occurred after a driver lost control of the vehicle. A Nov. 13, 2010 fatality on I-395 south near exit 82 was caused by a driver who was going too fast for conditions.

The 4.2-mile stretch is not jumping out as a high incidence area for accidents which, Nursick said, are the result of “basic driver error.”

Upgrades

In 2009, an $8.3 million upgrade was completed at the Route 82 interchange on Interstate 395 North. Exits 80W and 80E were combined into a single exit ramp marked exit 80. A new traffic signal was installed at the end of Exit 80 allowing access to Route 82 east and west. 

There are no further planned modifications to this stretch of I-395, Nursick said.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jane February 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM
There is nothing wrong with the exits and entrances as they are. There is a lot wrong with the drivers. Clue # 1. Entering Rt 2 or 395 you should attempt to be at traffic speed as soon as possible. That is the safest way to drive. Don't worry about the 3 cents used in gas to accelerate. Clue #2. As you come upon an highway entrance and see a car merging, if the left hand lane is clear use your signal light and move over to allow room for the merging car. THEN, as soon as is safe return to the right lane. Clue #3. One of the biggest problems in that area is congestion. Not from too many cars but from drivers that hog the road and slow down traffic. The law still states that if not actively passing a car you must be in the right lane. That doesn't mean if you can stay in the left lane because you plan on passing a car in the next 2 or 3 or 10 miles. it doesn't mean you may drive the left hand lane because you have a left hand exit 20 miles down the road. When on the turnpike the safest speed is not the posted limit - the safest speed is what the traffic is doing in the lane you are in. Driving to the beat of your own personal drummer is what causes accidents.

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