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Connecticut approves $20 million in bonding for a pilot project to prevent wrong-way accidents

Ted S. Warren

The Connecticut Bond Commission approved $20 million for technology that might help curb a spike of wrong-way driver accidents on the state’s highways on Friday.

There have been 11 wrong-way driver accidents with 20 fatalities on Connecticut highways since the beginning of the year. That’s an unusually high number.

Studies show driver impairment from high blood alcohol levels in 80% of the accidents, said state Transportation Deputy Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto.

“In many cases they were at 0.2 blood alcohol level (BAC) and in some cases over 0.3 which is a substantial high alcohol impairment. I believe in two of the cases there was also cannabis in the system. But the presence of cannabis does not indicate impairment,” he said.

The state increased road signage and pavement markings. They also put green arrows instead of green lights, to direct people where to go, but still crashes continue to occur.

The state Department of Transportation requested the money to purchase and install a pilot wrong-way driving prevention system, said Mark Rolfe, a deputy commissioner.

“It's a detection system. It's a 360 degree camera. The camera would be wired to flashing lights flashing beacons so it would be an additional warning to drivers that they are going the wrong way on the highway,” Rolfe said.

The $20 million for the project is part of $482 million in transportation projects agreed to by the commission.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.