Thursday, July 31, 2008

New ConnDOT Commissioner's First Task: Community Planning Training

See post from TSTC here, related to coverage of today's Whalley Avenue public hearing and recent workshop:

Update: Detailed post-event coverage of the Whalley Avenue public hearing appears in today's New Haven Independent: An NBC local news article is posted below:

DOT Unveils Whalley Ave. Renovation Plan: Safety Coalitions Question Plan (August 1, 2008, NBC30)

A new renovation plan to make Whalley Ave. safer was met with many questions from residents and safety coalitions Thursday.

The Department of Transportation presented their Whalley Ave. renovation plan to the community after reworking the plan for years. The DOT plans to invest up to $13 million to repaint crosswalks, spruce up landscaping, fix retaining walls and create two designated lanes, which will widen the road from Emerson Street to Route 69.

“The pavement is a mess, the sidewalk is a mess and the curbing is a mess,”
Jim Norman of the DOT said.

But residents and safety coalitions are unsure about whether the plan fully addresses safety issues the avenues has faced over years, specifically the 110 yearly accidents along that strip. The push for the avenue’s renovation became stronger after the hit -and -run incident that killed 11-year-old
Gabrielle Lee on the avenue in June.

The Coalition for a Livable Whalley Avenue and the
New Haven Safe Streets Coalition voiced their own opinions on the plan.

“The biggest concern, really, of our group-- and I think a lot of people in the room--is the speed of the traffic on the roadway,”
Chris Heitmann of the Coalition for a Livable Whalley Avenue said.

Even though the DOT plans to keep the 25 mph speed limit, some don't think wider lanes is the answer.

“If speeds are increasing because you have two lanes and you have all this more distance for pedestrians to cross it seems to me that you're going to have more pedestrians getting hit,”
Aric Issacs of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition said.

DOT said plan to get started on the project by the spring of 2009. That's also around the same time when the two safety coalitions said they want to see a 50 percent decrease in traffic related injuries.

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