Accidents on I-84 in West Hartford lead to questions of roadway safety

Some are worried that a stretch of I-84 through Connecticut presents unacceptable dangers to motorists.

A car, truck or motorcycle accident can happen anywhere. But, for various reasons, certain areas are particularly susceptible to higher rates of traffic crashes.

After two fatalities in the course of a week on the stretch of I-84 that runs through West Hartford, concern is growing that this local highway presents unacceptable safety risks. Some officials are calling for the Connecticut Department of Transportation to evaluate and address the problems with I-84.

DOT says driver behavior, not infrastructure, largely to blame for crashes

According to the state Department of Transportation, 1,364 motor vehicle crashes occurred on the stretch of I-84 that runs through West Hartford from 2009 to 2013. Most of these collisions did not involve injuries or only involved minor injuries. However, in recent years, there has been an uptick in fatal accidents along I-84 in West Hartford. Last year, two people died in car accidents along this section of highway, while three people have already lost their lives on the West Hartford section of I-84 in 2014 as of August.

After the latest death, State Representative Joe Verrengia of West Hartford renewed his call for safety improvements to I-84 from the exit for Trout Brook Drive to the Park Road exit. One issue is the so-called Park Road curve, which many locals feel is a hazard. Road improvements that could help address safety concerns could include adding more signs and signals, or even redesigning the Park Road curve entirely, although that would be a financially costly undertaking.

"The preliminary pushback has been the cost of improvements," Representative Verrengia recently told The Courant. "As far as I'm concerned, hundreds of millions of dollars are funneled through DOT. It's not about money. It's about setting priorities." Verrengia met with DOT officials in late August to discuss the issues with I-84.

It remains to be seen how receptive the DOT will be to the idea of infrastructure improvements. A DOT spokesman told The Currant that while the agency "[does not] view this stretch of I-84 as ideal, we don't see it as problematic from an infrastructure standpoint."

Of the crashes investigated by state police along West Hartford's section of I-84 over the last four years, the DOT says the vast majority occurred because drivers were following too closely. A driver losing control, improper lane change and driving too fast for conditions were the next most common causes of accidents on I-84 in West Hartford, respectively, according to the DOT.

If you have been harmed by a motor vehicle accident, call a personal injury lawyer

If you have been injured in a crash along I-84, or anywhere else for that matter, you may be entitled to compensation. Those who bear responsibility for causing a crash, or their insurers, must pay for the harm done to accident victims. This could include negligent drivers, or in some instances, an entity responsibility for designing or maintaining a particularly hazardous roadway. If you have been harmed in a crash, or if you lost a family member, get in touch with a Connecticut personal injury attorney today to ensure you recover the full compensation to which you are entitled.

Keywords: West Hartford, I-84. accidents