In an open house format, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) hosted a public information meeting at Western Connecticut State University to provide the public with an opportunity to view introductory exhibits regarding an initiative to improve safety, increase capacity and improve operations and access between Exits 3 and 8 on Interstate 84 in Danbury (I-84 Danbury Project).
“This is our first public forum on the I-84 corridor project. At the beginning of the year, we started to collecting data, began to analyze a lot of the existing condition data and held meetings with many stakeholders in the community,” explained Richard Armstrong, Principal Engineer at the CT Department of Transportation.
The eight-hour public information meeting took place on June 13. Members of the community could visit throughout the day at their convenience and interact with the project team’s engineers and planners.
“We have various displays around the room, depending on the topic of interest. We have traffic, bike and pad, the environment, we have an introductory video just to introduce the project to the community and share with them what we have today in terms of information and what our process will be going forward. And the 5-minute video is helpful because it talks about what our mission is,” said Armstrong.
CTDOT’s mission is to explore project improvements on I-84 between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury, about an eight-mile stretch.
According to Armstrong, they expect to have many more open forums throughout the year, about 3 or 4 in total.
“[For] the remainder of this year, we will continue to collect and analyze data in terms of existing conditions. Later this year, once we get through summer, we will probably have another public forum in the fall. We hope to form a public advisory committee around the end of this year and start to meet with them on a regular basis.”
A public advisory committee would include major employers, local municipalities, the Council of Governments, bike and pad organizations, if there are any, and neighborhood organizations. At this early stage in the process, the project team is reaching out to local residents, commuters, business owners and other interested parties, to receive input and ideas on how the project can best address current and future transportation and community needs. Public input is critical to ensuring that the redesigned highway corridor benefits all.
Brazilian Juliane Azevedo, administrative assistant at CDM Smith, a full-service engineering and construction firm working in the project, is helping the team approach the Portuguese-speaking community. “I am helping the team out mainly with the Portuguese and the Brazilian communities, trying to get them to interact as much as possible and to be aware of what is going on in the I-84 Danbury project, and I also help with the translation of all material related to the project into Portuguese.”
Milone & MacBroom’s Brazilian civil engineer Fabiano Borges also joined the team to assist on clarifying the details of the project as well as its significance and impact in the Portuguese-speaking communities. And Avis Carrero, fluent in Spanish, will be assisting the Hispanic-speaking residents.
The project planning process began in late 2016, and it is focusing on public engagement and the development and preliminary assessment of alternatives. Subsequent phases will include environmental studies and an assessment of the potential benefits and impacts to residents, businesses, travelers, properties, neighborhoods and the natural environment, as well as the identification of a preferred alternative and preliminary engineering.
According to Armstrong, they expect to have open forums every three to four months. More detailed information is available online at www.i84danbury.com.
Those interested in participating in the survey, please click in one of the links of your language of preference: English: http://conta.cc/2tn95pE, Spanish: http://conta.cc/2tn0mE8 and Portuguese: http://conta.cc/2sHLanZ.