Route 89 dates back to 1932. Its original path, from south to north:
- Today's Route 289, leading from Route 87 in Lebanon to Route 32 in Windham
- Overlap with Route 32 and Route 66 leading to the Route 195 junction
- Today's Route 195, from Route 66 to today's Route 89
- Today's Route 89, from Route 195 to Turnpike Road, Westford
- Nagy Road, to where the road becomes Supina Road
- An abandoned road, continuing north and slightly east, connecting to Scranton Road in Union
- Scranton Road to its end at Route 15 (now Route 190) in downtown Union
Finding Abandoned Route 89
About 3.5 miles of the original Route 89 in Ashford and Union is no longer open to traffic; this area is mostly forest. Shown on a 1952 USGS map (hosted at UNH; 2 MB JPEG scan) is the original alignment: a dotted line leading from Nagy Road in Ashford to Town Hall Road (now Scranton Road) in Union. There are faint traces of this road from the air; it would be interesting to see what's on the ground. It's not part of a state park, and might be private property.
In 1942, this portion of Route 89 was relocated to Ferrence Road and Fish Point Road, where it is located today. The 1940s route was more curvy around the Wilbur Cross Highway intersection (now an interchange on I-84); this 1-mile segment was reconstructed and made safer in 1965.
The 1961 Connecticut state highway map echoes the changes shown in the state's highway logs. For one year, Route 19 was apparently extended eastward along former Route 20 into Union.
Strange realignment retracted the following year
In the 1950s, today's Route 190 in Stafford and Union was part of Route 20. Route 20 became Route 190 in July 1961, in concert with a number of changes at the opening of the Bradley Airport Connector.
In 1960, however, the state had truncated Route 20 at Stafford, and redesignated East Main Street and Buckley Highway as part of Route 19 (see map above). At the intersection with Route 89, Route 19 ended and Route 89 continued east, to end at Route 15 (now I-84), one exit beyond where those routes had already crossed.
This rerouting is bizarre. I saw the map first and thought, "OK, map error." Then when I saw the ConnDOT spreadsheet: "Possible clerical error, reflected in a map." The emergence in May 1960 of a paragraph in the Hartford Courant, meaning the Highway Department issued a press release, tips this case into the "intentional change" bucket. In any case, the decision was reversed in 1961.
Truncation in favor of Route 195, probably for UConn traffic
On Dec. 1, 1964, Route 89's south end was moved from Lebanon to Mansfield, making it shorter. Former Route 89 from Route 87 to Route 32 became the new Route 289. Former Route 89 from Route 66 to today's 89/195 intersection became part of Route 195.
I'm guessing this was done to provide a more direct route to the University of Connecticut from US 6. The Hartford Courant article announcing the change reads: "State highway officials could not be contacted to determine the reason for the change Monday night." And the story was not followed up.