Friday, March 18, 2011

City Point Neighborhood Association Requests Traffic Improvements

The City Point Neighborhood Association, after meeting with the City of New Haven and volunteers from the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, has decided to request temporary and permanent traffic calming measures through the City's Complete Streets program.

City Point is a beautiful area at the southern end of the "Hill" neighborhood, bordering Long Island Sound. Designated as an official historic district by the City of New Haven, the area is known for its small oysterman's houses, marina, parks, and well-preserved 19th- and early 20th-century homes along Howard Avenue (such as the one shown here). Despite the area's beauty, community cohesiveness and high quality of life, traffic has been identified as a major concern. In the 2010 Neighborhood Quality of Life Survey, the several dozen City Point residents who responded clearly indicated that the control of traffic speeding and enforcement in the area was not acceptable.

The measures the group who was present has decided to request are as follows (these are excerpted directly from emails to the neighborhood association):

Temporary Measures

Seasonal crosswalk signs--these are temporary structures that are placed in the middle street that alert drivers to watch for pedestrians. These are seasonal in that they can't be placed in the streets in the winter (because of snow, plowing, etc) but they have been used and proven to be effective on State Street. We are going to request these for various spots on Howard Avenue.

Removable Speed Bumps--these are temporary because they are placed on the street and removable, not cemented into the road. These will be placed on Sea Street because and possibly other small streets that experience heavy traffic at times (Sea Street does because of the Sound School). These are not as effective on wide roads and are not a good option for Howard Avenue.

If you would like to sign onto the application we will submit requesting these temporary measures from the city, please contact the Safe Streets Coalition via email at newhavensafestreets [a/t] to sign on (replace the "[a/t]" with an "@" sign).

Options for Permanent Traffic Calming

These were discussed in detail at last week's meeting. I will only provide a brief overview of each here as these options will be discussed again in detail in April when we reconvene. (However, please feel free to send any questions you may have in the meantime). Whatever options we do choose, city and Safe Streets staff did stress that these are not truly effective unless they are used in multiple locations (for example, one traffic circle or one bump out alone will not serve to slow traffic, but a series of them will).

Traffic circles--These are "roundabout" structures, that traffic has to go around. These have proven to be extremely effective is dramatically reducing speed and accidents on streets that are long, straight and wide (like Howard Avenue). These have been installed on Woodward Avenue in the East Shore area.

Medians- these can consist of "temporary" ones that are huge potted plants down the length of the road or permanent, cement ones. To be effective, a cement/asphalt median needs to have plantings.

Bump outs- this is where the sidewalk extends out into the street more than usual at intersections. It serves to slow cars down since it narrows the road, but also gives pedestrians a little extra safety as it increases both their view of traffic and traffic's view of them.

Textured pavement-used in conjunction with bump outs, textured pavement can be concrete that is "stamped" to look like stone (or a plastic based covering that looks like brick) and is bumpy which slows traffic.

Bike lanes- bike lanes also help slow traffic as they visually narrow the road to drivers. However, these have already been planned for Howard Avenue and used alone, will not likely slow traffic significantly on an avenue as wide as Howard.

Other Resources

The City of New Haven's Complete Streets manual includes more detailed information and photos of various traffic calming measures. It can be found here: Beginning on page 47, there are descriptions and photos of both temporary and permanent traffic calming measures. At the end of the manual is the application. Anyone can fill one out and submit it at any time, but especially for larger, permanent traffic calming plans, the city is not very likely to approve an application unless it has support from a large amount of residents in the given area.

More information on the Safe Streets group:

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