Gov. Dannel Malloy
Standing under the columns of the elevated portion of I-84 in Hartford, known as the viaduct, Governor Dannel Malloy announced on Tuesday that his office released an economic analysis examining the benefits of rebuilding the highway.
The analysis found that replacing the crumbling overpass could pay off almost double the lower estimates of potential replacement cost.
According to the study, the highway's future benefits would amount to $9.2 billion. Benefits include reduced travel time, improved travel reliability, fewer accidents, and reduced vehicle operating costs.
The figure is based on a "middle ground" estimate of initial expenditure. "For the purposes of the study, we assumed about a $5.3 billion cost," Malloy said. If the state opts to bury the highway in a tunnel, it could cost up to $12 billion.
Malloy said that the project will boost jobs during construction and related economic activity. Increased transportation efficiency and lower shipping costs will help, he said. The study found that long-term, replacing the I-84 viaduct in Hartford would boost business sales and output overall.
"This 50-year old structure is overdue for replacement – it costs millions each year in maintenance costs to keep it in a state of good repair," Malloy said. "It was completed in the early 1960s. It is going to cost us a tremendous amount of money to keep it open at all. It’s time to prepare a plan for the proper replacement of it. In fact, it’s past the time."
The highway currently serves around 170,000 vehicles a day. State officials have long been saying it was designed to serve only 55,000 vehicles a day when it was first built.
The state Department of Transportation is considering four main options for the viaduct's future: replacing the current structure, bringing it to ground level, lowering it in a trench, or burying it underground in a tunnel.
State officials said they've spent roughly $60 million between 2002 and 2012 to keep I-84 in working condition, but the current structure is still in an "advanced state of deterioration."