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A Nutmeg State

Connecticut is a fine place.  No state in the union does more to guard America against property and casualty loss or to keep our universities well supplied with good looking, well adjusted students.  There is one important dimension in which Connecticut scores painfully low, the quality of its highways.   Anyone who routinely drives between Boston and New York City certainly knows exactly what I’m talking about.

There are 3 highways that traverse Connecticut in a general east-west direction, and all are atrocious in their own unique and special ways.

I-95 from Stonington to Greenwich – This road has been under perpetual construction seemingly since the day it opened (and was immediately declared obsolete) during the Eisenhower administration.  When construction related earth mounds have sprouted mature shrubs, trees and fox dens, then you know that someone is milking the state contract for all its worth.  After 50 years of continuous construction, you’d think that entire I-95 bridges would not spontaneously fall into the ocean but on this road, sometimes they do.  When the toll booths were removed from I-95 in the 1980's it wasn't because the associated revenue bonds were paid, but that the tolls constituted a likely violation of Federal RICO statutes.

Connecticut 15 – The Merritt Parkway from Meriden to Greenwich  – A lovely road in its own right, with well preserved art deco bridges, challenging curves and a refreshing ban on large commercial vehicles.  This quaint relic of the 1920s was once probably a charming setting for a Sunday drive in the 1926 Hupmobile.  But it is now so hopelessly over capacity that at any moment a 25 mile traffic jam rivaling those on the China-Tibet highway can spontaneously erupt.   “Hey look, there’s a deer!” Traffic jam.  “Was that a raindrop?” Traffic jam. “How do I work this BMW I-Drive?” Traffic jam.  Traffic on the Merritt is not only maddeningly sticky, it’s also binary.  When not dead stopped, traffic moves at 90+ MPH, nose to bumper.  Porsches, BMWs and premium SUV’s all jockeying for pole position in the daily “Fairfield County Bond Trader 500”  Judging by the multitude of angry dents in the oak trees that line the roadway, the yellow flag flies rather frequently on the Merritt.

I-84 Stafford to Danbury  - From the Massachusetts border to Hartford, I-84 is a nice road, with decent traffic flow except as you near Hartford during the morning rush.  This stretch is also very heavily patrolled by the Connecticut State Police in a bewildering assortment of undercover vehicles and multicolored slick tops -  so exceed the posted limit here at your own peril.  From Hartford to Danbury however, I-84 becomes perhaps the worst stretch of interstate extant, with a multitude of sharp turns, abrupt lane drops and left hand lane exits (a Connecticut DOT specialty).  The drivers here are an entirely incompatible mix of 55MPH resolute unyielders of the left lane (you’ll recognize them by their gray Buick Lesabres with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and learn to pass them by whatever means necessary),  grumpy long haul truckers and Hartford gang-bangers making the New York supply run in slammed imports. Mix one part bad road, two parts bad driving and I-84 can become a spontaneous 60 mile traffic jam from Hartford to Danbury at any time of day or night.

Driving through Connecticut on any of these 3 roads is so incredibly frustrating and time wasting that the entire Connecticut Highway Department should be indicted for unlawful restriction of interstate commerce.

We love you Connecticut, we really do - but your roads really put us in a Nutmeg state.

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