Middletown’s existence as a central city has historically been directly related to its accessibility to the primary mode of transportation during each era.
As primary modes of transportation evolved from water to rail to automobile, Middletown adapted and thrived. Middletown’s evolution to the current mode of transportation, the automobile was marked by the construction of the Arrigoni Bridge, Connecticut Routes 17, 66 and later Route 9. Due to this infrastructure, Middletown’s downtown today enjoys exceptional access from all parts of the State.
However, as the number of automobiles has increased dramatically, the infrastructure has, for the most part, remained in its historic configuration. This has resulted in significant congestion in and around the downtown.
Connecticut Routes 66 and 9 are the most congested routes in Middletown. The State Department of Transportation has historically expressed its desires to find solutions to the Arrigoni Bridge - Hartford Avenue - Route 9 traffic light situation. In 1991 the State DOT once again examined the issue, undertook preliminary designs and conducted an environmental impact study.
The designs if ever implemented would have had dramatic negative impacts on the character of downtown Middletown. Fortunately, during this time of limited financial resources, the ”Middletown Route 9” project was shelved and is currently programmed in the twenty-year range.
There is little doubt that eventually the Arrigoni Bridge - Route 9 issue will be addressed. The bridge is approximately seventy years old and is currently at or near capacity.
The lights on Route 9 are a major cause of traffic congestion, particularly in the summer months, and a major source of air pollution. In order to ensure that the issue is adequately addressed, the City should be working with the Department of Transportation to formulate a design which adequately addresses environmental concerns and which preserves and enhances the character of downtown Middletown and its historic relationship to the riverfront. In formulating these plans, improved vehicular access to and within the downtown and the north end industrial area and improved at-grade pedestrian access to the riverfront should be of paramount concern.
Furthermore, the historic Arrigoni Bridge and views to the bridge should be preserved and any new bridge should be north of the current bridge or south of the bend in the river at the narrows.