ConnDOT buys old HoJo’s property

The Connecticut Department of Transportation said it will use the land at 180 East Ave. as staging space for Walk Bridge Project work. (Harold F. Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. — A prominently placed East Norwalk vacant lot has been purchased by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, setting off alarm bells for some.

ConnDOT paid $3.85 million for the 1.11 acres at 180 East Ave., City records show. The lot is adjacent to Interstate 95 Exit 16 northbound and next to the Rite Aid on the corner of St. John St.

Some East Norwalk residents suspect ConnDOT plans to use the land for a divergent diamond interchange, an idea presented to the public in January 2019.

While that proposal is still in the works, ConnDOT Spokesperson/Communications Manager Josh Morgan denied that the purchase is related. Instead, the parcel will be used for East Avenue work planned as part of The Walk Bridge Program, he said.

Morgan wrote:

“That East Avenue work includes updating drainage and installing new sidewalks in the area, extending the platforms and adding more parking at the East Norwalk Train Station, and replacing the 100-year-old East Avenue Railroad Bridge. The property will be used to stage construction trailers, contractor parking and other necessary equipment. If needed, the front portion of the property will also be used for additional commuter parking at the East Norwalk Train Station during construction.

“The property acquisition is not related to potential construction of a diverging diamond interchange. A traffic study is ongoing to determine if a diverging diamond is a feasible alternative in the area, and what other potential alternatives may improve safety and alleviate traffic. A timeline for this potential project is still being developed.”


A diverging diamond interchange is included in The Metropolitan Transportation Plan developed by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG). Released in February, the “blueprint” for transportation in member communities is for the 2023–2050 timeframe.

Graphic from page 51 of The Metropolitan Transportation Plan PDF.

“In Norwalk, CTDOT is exploring innovative engineering solutions to improve the interchange at exit 16,” the plan states. “A first in Connecticut, a diverging diamond interchange is being considered to help improve throughput and safety for drivers merging on and off the highway. As shown in Figure 18, the design of this interchange results in fewer conflict points for drivers and improves safety.”

The plan also notes that “significant analysis, modeling and design is often necessary before a project {like a diverging diamond interchange} can be implemented.” It pegs the potential cost at $27.5 million and places the expense in the 2027-2032 time period.

ConnDOT bought the property in September from Antonios and Penelope Koskerides, who have owned it since December 1993, according to City land records. It’s appraised at $1.42 million.

A Howard Johnson’s once sat on the site but was destroyed decades ago in a fire.

NancyOnNorwalk reporter Harold F. Cobin contributed to this story.


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A view of 180 East Ave. (Harold F. Cobin)


Bryan Clark March 10, 2023 at 9:59 am

Two things: why would an improved interchange that is safer and more efficient worry people? Second, if DOT only plans on using it during construction, why didn’t they just rent the land?

David Muccigrosso March 10, 2023 at 1:44 pm

@Bryan – Because East Norwalk is full of angry NIMBYs who hate the traffic on East Ave so much, they don’t want any kind of construction, even a project that would fix the traffic.

Johnny cardamone March 11, 2023 at 7:41 am

I remember going to HOJOs as we used to call it in 1979 with a new girlfriend and seeing Mayor Jenny Cave! Kind of funny, how it burned down after the new Pennys diner opened at the old shore points diner for those of us that are old enough to remember! Well, 5 to 10 years from now when the worthless railroad bridges finish and $1 billion is spent maybe the property will become a goat farm again which I remember was there before Howard Johnson’s!

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