Interstate 291 was originally planned as a 20 mile long beltway around the north, west and south sides of the Hartford metropolitan area.1 Beyond ramps extending west from I-291 to Route 218 and the four level interchange with I-84 at Farmington, the northwestern quadrant of I-291 was never built. The 12.5 mile long segment was cancelled in July 1973.1
The southwestern quadrant remained planned until March 1979. It was projected to arc 7.6 miles southeast from I-84 through Newington, New Britain and Berlin to I-91 at Wethersfield. A short portion of this route, from Interstate 84 to Route 175 along the Newington and New Britain line, was eventually incorporated into the freeway along Route 9. The 3.3 mile long segment opened to traffic on September 30, 1992 at a cost of $32.5 million.3
The proposed route of Interstate 291 in 1976 from the four level interchange with I-84/U.S. 6 at Farmington south through Newington and east into Rocky Hill.
The Hartford beltway system also includes the freeway along Route 3 extending northeast from I-91 in Wethersfield across the William Putnam Bridge over the Connecticut River to Route 2 in Glastonbury. Proposed as Interstate 491, and by 1968 as the western leg of former I-86, the section north through East Hartford to Manchester was dropped by the state of Connecticut in 1973.3
Opened December 16, 1957 as a local link from I-91 east to U.S. 5, the Captain John Bissell Memorial Bridge was the first portion of Interstate 291 completed. Tolls were charged for the span until October 9, 1985. It was signed as part of Connecticut State Route 291 until the remainder of I-291 east to Manchester was completed on September 9, 1994.2,4
Interstate 291 under construction in 1994 from U.S. 5 (John Fitch Boulevard) in South Windsor east to I-84/384 in Manchester.