Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the state Department of Transportation on Thursday to halt all routine road maintenance work in lower Fairfield County to ease traffic congestion.

Vehicular traffic was expected to rise sharply after Wednesday’s power failure on the Metro-North rail line knocked out most service between Stamford and New York City for at least three weeks.

The governor suspended work on a lane expansion on Interstate 95 in Norwalk until further notice. There will be no lane closures except in cases of emergency.

Malloy also directed the DOT to postpone routine work on the Merritt Parkway, U.S. Route 1, state routes 7 and 123, and on other busy secondary roads in lower Fairfield County.

“Needless to say, I am frustrated at this situation and continue to press the folks at Con Ed and Metro-North to fix it as quickly as possible,” Malloy said Thursday.

Con Edison is the electric utility that serves the Metro-North line in the Mount Vernon, N.Y., area, where a 138,000-volt feeder cable malfunctioned Wednesday.

“But until the problems are alleviated, we need to take whatever steps we can to help mitigate congestion on roadways,” Malloy added. “Our state transportation crews have halted all routine road work in the area and are working to ensure that the expected increase in traffic moves safely and efficiently.”

The halted routine maintenance includes mowing, patching, clearing brush from catch basins, tree trimming and line striping. All bridge maintenance — which requires lane closures for the safety of workers — will be done at night. Any night work will be stopped and cleared by 6 a.m.

DOT’s Service Patrols, large trucks with flashing lights that assist motorists whose vehicles have broken down, have been placed at various points along I-95 off the roadway. They will assist with getting those vehicles off the road as quickly as possible and help with other congestion mitigation where necessary, according to the governor’s office.

On Thursday morning, the DOT reported that traffic on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway was only slightly heavier than normal for a weekday morning rush.

Metro-North is providing limited rail service in diesel-powered cars between Stamford and Grand Central Station in Manhattan as Con Edison scrambles to repair the feeder cable. This contingency service only offers enough cars to provide about 30 percent of the normal capacity.

An estimated 125,000 commuters ride the Metro-North service at various points on a daily basis, making it one of the busiest lines in the nation.

Malloy urged commuters Wednesday to prepare contingency plans such as:

  • Working from home, if possible.
  • Traveling by highway as part of a car pool.
  • Or planning to stay in New York for an extended period of time.
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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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