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.
“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!”
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.
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.”
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.