I-95 Study Scope

I-95 Study

Study Scope

The study will focus on the I-95 corridor from New Haven to the New York State border in southwestern Connecticut. The corridor is a transportation network that includes I-95, Route 15, Route 1, Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line and Amtrak. Its goal is to find integrated solutions to relieve traffic congestion. The right combination of solutions will likely include both transportation system improvements (for example, highway improvements such as lane additions, interchange reconstruction, rail and bus transit improvements) and electronic tolling alternatives.  The study includes a dozen tasks in total, ranging from data collection through financial and operational analysis of alternatives.  Below is a summary of the key elements within the study scope.

Engaging the public, businesses and other stakeholders

Public Involvement Meeting

The public will be engaged in a discussion of how congestion pricing might affect their communities and businesses. Commuters, residents, the business community and other stakeholders will provide essential input to help shape recommendation that emerge from the studies and weigh in on alternatives for congestion managements and electronic tolling.
Public involvement on this important public policy topic will include:

  • Focus group research
  • Surveys of residents, businesses, and the traveling public
  • Direct outreach to community and business groups
  • Community forums and round table discussions
  • Project website to disseminate information and solicit comments
  • Equity assessments that examine the potential impact of tolls on communities and businesses
  • Public information meetings

Understanding public preferences

The study will conduct surveys of travelers to learn about their current travel and how it might change in the future if travel conditions changed. If congestion pricing was available on I-95, how many people would choose to pay a fee to get to their destination faster? And, what would be the amount of the fee they would be willing to pay?

The study will also analyze the impact of congestion pricing and rail service improvements on rail use. How many people would switch to transit if there is congestion pricing on I-95 and rail service is upgraded?  What if increased parking at stations and seamless connections to and from employment and retail centers was available?

Travel and Traffic Profile

This task includes a comprehensive data collection effort to assess current operating conditions and characteristics along the I-95 corridor. A traffic and travel profile for the I-95 corridor will be developed; the profile will also define travel characteristics of Route 15 as well as the Metro North rail line. The data gathered to develop the travel operations profile will include:

  • Traffic counts – to determine the number of vehicles on the roadways during different times of the day and travel direction;
  • Field observations - to observe queuing and delays and to identify physical constraints and deficiencies in how the corridor functions;
  • Vehicle license plate and occupancy (number of people per vehicle) surveys – to gain information about the percentage of out-of-state drivers and carpooling patterns;
  • Travel time data – to determine how long it takes to travel from point A to point B and the severity and duration of congestion being experienced by corridor users;
  • Travel patterns – to determine the origin and destination of road and rail users;
  • Truck patterns – to determine the origin and destination, vehicle type, frequency, and commodity carried; and
  • Rail usage, schedules and parking inventory at rail stations – to gain information on the current function and capacity of the commuter rail system.

Traffic and Operations Analysis

Once existing traffic levels, travel conditions, and travel patterns in the I-95 corridor have been analyzed, a significant effort will be placed on the development of travel demand and traffic operation models of the corridor in order to analyze future roadway usage and operating conditions of various physical improvement and policy scenarios.

Physical improvements may consist of the addition of auxiliary lanes, interchange improvements, the addition of travel lanes, or the addition of priced managed lanes. In addition, rail improvements, including parking enhancements at train stations will be considered. The models will forecast usage of the travel corridors, toll revenue (if appropriate), and the operational impacts (travel time reductions) that could be expected from implementation of such improvements and/or policies.
Physical alternatives and policy decisions will be developed taking into consideration public and local agency and stakeholder feedback, traffic characteristics, travel patterns, travel conditions, and physical constraints in the corridor.

Conceptual Design

This task includes a concept-level study of the physical requirements and cost feasibility of expanding I-95 to include new travel lanes.  It is believed that the expansion will have a significant price tag because it will require the reconstruction of nearly all bridges, underpasses and on- and off-ramps as well as extensive retaining walls along the 45 mile plus length of I-95 from New Haven to the New York state line.   Physical concepts being developed include the addition of 1 and 2 lanes in each direction, including managed lanes. Order of magnitude capital cost estimates will be produced for use in the financial analysis task.

Toll Operations

This task will include recommendations for a preliminary design of a possible electronic toll system (ETS) to better understand the feasibility of tolling alternatives considered in the study. The plans for ETS will be conceptual-level and will identify which tolling and video processing technologies should be considered, how the system might operate, and how the system might be integrated into the customer service center (CSC)/back office and regional traffic management systems. This plan will present an operational concept for the overall design, operations, and maintenance of a possible tolling system.  Estimates of capital, operations and maintenance costs for tolling alternatives will also be prepared.

Financial, Legal, and Implementation Analysis

Broader elements surrounding the feasibility of tolling will also be evaluated. This includes drafting white papers on tolling laws, tolling readiness in Connecticut, implementation plans and structures used in other states, and the various financing structures that might be considered to finance projects such as Public Private Partnerships (P3s). For tolling alternatives, preliminary financial analysis will be performed to estimate costs, potential revenues and bonding requirements.