Thursday, May 30, 2024

Let Me Bore You With The Details (The Plan for Rt. 9)

I'm hoping this is helpful for folks who haven't had a chance to digest the latest plan for Route 9. There are online maps, there have been video presentations. But just in case a plain old description helps, that's what I've written below.

In the meantime, the Common Council meets tonight to vote (UPDATE: VOTED YES UNANIMOUSLY) on asking the DOT to pause and consider community concerns about the plan, which were raised during two hours public commentary on May 23rd.

Also, if you would like to submit comments in writing to the DOT, they have moved the deadline to tomorrow, Friday, May 31st.  Send your thoughts by email  to and please cc Mayor Florsheim at and

And now, a description of the plan, using local reference points, with my commentary included:

From Route 9 North, if you are coming from Higganum:

The plan eliminates both lights on Route 9 North, meaning no left turns either to the Portland Bridge/Hartford Avenue or to Washington Street/Route 66.  It creates a new Rt9N exit about a mile to the south of downtown (before the bend in the highway.)  The exit would be between Bow Lane and the Rt 17 connector, around the area of Maplewood Terrace/Walnut Street, leading to a rotary on River Road in front of the old sewage treatment plant.  The DOT predicts a future count of 4500 vehicles a day using this exit, including trucks. The floodplain, Sumner Brook and a superfund site are all impacted. This also contradicts the riverfront planning we've done for recreational amenities and attractions in this area.
Everyone who currently uses the lights on the Northbound highway to turn left would instead be on River Road, along the waterfront, and would then come to the corner of DeKoven and Union Street (by the old Middletown Plate Glass); then they would make their way to the Portland Bridge or up toward Meriden by using the local roads.  DeKoven to Rapallo would carry much of the traffic headed to the Bridge; as with the last DOT plan (which was stopped in 2018 by community resistance), this plan converts Rapallo to a one-way street to hold the cars heading to the Bridge, adds pollution in a crowded area, puts more pressure on cut-through traffic on Ferry/Green, and damages businesses and residents on Rapallo and the area.
Aside from the impact to local residents, this plan means that for any driver who uses the lights from Rt9N to get to the Bridge, there is added travel time, especially compared to off-peak times, because they would always have to navigate local streets and intersections instead of using the highway.
For cars that usually use the Northbound light to head up Washington Street toward Meriden, they would now find the quickest path would be up Union/Church/Cross street, through the Wesleyan campus; or possibly, to take a right on DeKoven until William/MLK or Court Street, then taking Pearl or High to eventually make a left onto Washington Street.  In other words, the neighborhoods beyond downtown would have new cut-through traffic from this change, with damage to property values and increased risk to pedestrians.
Some of the cars taking the new exit would go up Union and turn right onto Main Street, either to get to Rt. 66/Washington Street, or to get to the Portland Bridge.  Adding cars that do NOT want to be Main Street, with people who are just trying to get somewhere else, is a negative for our businesses.  It hurts the important qualities of easy diagonal parking, slow speeds and walkability which make our business district possible.  Very few Connecticut downtowns stayed alive after DOT projects "improved" the highway for cars instead of for communities (think Meriden, Waterbury, Hartford, New Britain, Norwich, etc.)  Middletown has been lucky to have easy access from Route 9, without ramps and flyovers to erase the community.  Under this plan, removing the lights takes away the simple and clear access we've enjoyed, and increases the volume of through traffic and hurts walkability, while lowering the number of exits into our downtown.

From Route 9 South, if you are coming from Cromwell:

On the Southbound lane of Route 9, the plan creates a hump to elevate one lane of the highway to pass over the intersection with Hartford Avenue (that's the concrete-walled ramp from O'Rourke's Diner to Route 9).  The hump on Route 9 starts roughly around Miller/Bridge street, then rises to its full height where Hartford Avenue meets the highway, and then, in a distance of about 500 feet, goes back down to grade level to pass under where the Railroad Bridge crosses Route 9.  There would be an exit lane on the right side so that Rt9S cars could get to Hartford Avenue up toward St. John's Square - then right toward the Bridge or left onto Main Street, heading to Route 66/Washington Street. One increase in volume at this Route 9 exit is that it would now carry ALL the cars headed to points West, because the other exit to Route 66, at the base of Washington Street near Melilli Plaza, would be eliminated.
For cars that come down Hartford Avenue, heading North to Hartford, they would pass under the hump and merge into the fast lane on Route 9 - and the DOT is proposing adding a new lane to Route 9 North for a distance to make this less dangerous; but ultimately, it's a left lane merge on a full-speed highway.  For cars that come down Hartford Avenue and want to head south on Route 9, they would merge into the full-speed traffic coming off the hump, in the area of where the highway passes under the railroad bridge. As noted, the exit to Washington Street in the area of DeKoven House/Vecchitto's would be eliminated.
Cars would still be able to enter Route 9 South at the bottom of Washington Street, but they would now have to accelerate up to the highway speed, and that puts them in conflict with cars who are on Route 9 South and slowing down to take the exit by the movie theater, to DeKoven/MLK Drive, which connects to William Street.
Of course, all construction presents risks to local communities and business districts, but construction of the hump on Route 9 South will be a significant disruption, projected to last 3 to 4 years. The hump covers the space of Route 9 itself and there's little room for detouring traffic due to the bridge supports for the Railroad bridge and the Arrigoni Bridge. It will be especially difficult, both night and day, for residents of Miller/Bridge/Portland Streets, and for maintaining full access to downtown and to the Bridge and Rt 66.

The overall plan ignores the decades of data that shows projects like this hurt local economies, and put the highest burden on neighborhoods with low-income residents and people of color.  The research shows that ultimately, they don't even solve safety or congestion problems on the highway itself, because accidents now happen at higher speed and the "faster" route draws new commuters and higher volume, and encourages development to sprawl away from urban centers.  People who pass through might sometimes have shorter travel times during rush hour, at least for a while, but those who are diverted through our neighborhoods will not see those gains. The DOT is not considering ways to make the highway safer that would avoid these negative impacts for Middletown. The estimates of improvements in safety don't consider the increase in risk on our local streets and the cost that we will bear.
Please join us in asking DOT to find better ways to make the highway safer, without transferring the burden to Middletown.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Learn to Row Day! Saturday, June 1st


Learn to Row with Central CT Rowing!
Saturday, June 1, 10 am to 2 pm

Sign-up at
or, call Middletown Rec at (860) 638-4500

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Relief in 4 Minutes for Chronic Hip Pain

*Snake Hips Tucker
(1920s-30s dancer)

Worth a Try: Exercise
for Easing Hip & Leg Pain

If you're of a certain age and have spent much of your working life at a desk, chances are you'll eventually experience tight hips, with symptoms of tightness or pain, a change in your gait (the way you walk) or both. And frustration because you don't know know how this happened or how to fix it.

Resolution for hip & leg pain may be less complicated than you think. My recent discovery and practice of targeted exercise videos on youtube (Silver Sneakers & others) has resulted in an apparent complete recovery from what seemed on its way to debilitating pain in legs and hips. I also have an inclination to spread the good word of something that might help.** 

Try these exercises, click to view: 
4-Min Stretch Routine for Hip Mobility  

Lower Body Workout for Active Exercisers**

About Tight Hips (from What does it mean to have tight hips? A feeling of tightness across the hips comes from tension around the hip flexors. The hip flexors are a group of muscles around the top of the thighs that connect the upper leg to the hip. These muscles allow you to bend at the waist and raise your leg. (Some of the main hip flexors are the Iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae, sartorius.)

Many people have tight hips, including both people who spend several hours a day sitting as well as regular gym-goers and professional athletes. Some people are more prone to tightness in that area of their body, too. Tight hips may put you at increased risk for injury due to the increased demands on tissues that aren’t moving properly. Before going to a physical therapist or doctor for treatment, try some of these exercises and see how you respond. Practice slowly and carefully at first, and see your doctor if you feel a need for reassurance.

More advanced stretches**
7 Stretches to loosen up tight hips

 *If you've found relief with these moves, look to for Silver Sneakers' exercise routines. If your insurance plan offers Silver Sneakers, take a look & see if you can log in to get
started at

*Snake Hips Tucker
(1920s-30s dancer)

Earl 'snake Hips' Tucker (1905-1937)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Teen Repertory Company Presents: As You Like It

Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company presents Shakespeare’s As You Like It May 16 - 25. All performances will be held at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown.

As You Like It, written in 1599,  is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and accessible comedies. The play mostly takes place in the mythical Forest of Arden, and director Dic Wheeler has placed the production in a world which he refers to as “Clown Contemporary”. The fast-paced production features politics, love, exile, cross-dressing, great music, misplaced passion, wrestling, and includes some of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches ( including “All the world’s a stage…”) and, in the protagonist Rosalind, the largest role that he wrote for a female character.


The play, which features a cast of 19 performers ages 14 - 20,  is directed by Oddfellows Artistic Director Dic Wheeler, with original choreography by Marcella Trowbridge. Costume Design is by Christian Milik, Scenic Design by Tina Hurlbert, Sound and Music by Joseph Getter, Lighting Design by Aaron Wescott, and Properties Design by Pam Lang, 

Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for kids and students. “Big Heart” tickets are available for $25 for anyone who really loves and values theater and its impact on the lives of young people.

Thursday, May 16 is a “Pay-What-You-Can” Preview

Tickets may be purchased at

For more information, call (860) 347-6143, email, or go to