Harborside Trail Just Might Happen

by Melinda Tuhus | March 2, 2007 8:05 AM | | Comments (4)

anstress%20and%20chris.JPGWhy is Chris Ozyck smiling? “I think we really made something happen,” he said of his and others’ efforts to get the New Haven Port Authority to consider allowing a biking/hiking trail to run through the port. It’s not a done deal yet, but read on to learn of the progress that’s been made “” and how it’s been made.

First, lots of people did their homework and testified at public hearings about the value of such a trail “” and why it should go through the port rather than on busy roads around the port. Park advocates, bicyclists, birders, parents of young children “” all supported a walkable, bikeable section of trail that could connect with the longer trail planned along the entire harbor.

Second, they approached the decision makers in the City Plan Department and on the Port Authority in a respectful, collaborative rather than confrontational way, and thanked them for listening to their point of view. Third, they kept asking questions and politely pushed for more answers.

Ozyck (along with another Harborside Trail supporter, Urban Design League head Anstress Farwell) attended yet another meeting on Thursday night of the New Haven Port Authority.

In addition to testifying, Ozyck organized walks last month along the two proposed trails so people could see for themselves exactly what the options were. Click here for a description, and to find out why they preferred going through the port area, rather than on Woodward Avenue and Route 1.

mike%20p.JPGAt Thursday’s meeting, Mike Piscitelli from the City Plan Department (pictured, with a map of the area in question) urged members of the Port Authority to walk the route during the month of March, along with engineers who could provide expert opinions on four issues: feasibility, functionality, safety and security. Click here for a fuller explanation.

Other issues came up at the meeting, like security cameras that will be installed around the port, and questions of two acres of land within the port authority possibly being taken over by the Department of Transportation. But, as Piscitelli noted, the issue that has generated the most interest is this proposed piece of the Harborside Trail: Is it to be or not to be? Stay tuned.

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Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 9:06 AM

Walk the proposed routes this Saturday (3/3) or (3/31) with us at 1:00. Enter East Shore Park first entrance off Woodward and follow signs. 2 miles, please wear hiking shoes.

Posted by: charlie | March 2, 2007 9:34 AM

Functionality is a very important consideration. The trail needs to stay where it is to remain functional. If it's rerouted along Route 1 and up a hill, people will not use it.

Also the trail is usually found without looking at any map, simply by following the harbor. If the trail doesn't run right along the closest roads to the water, people will not instinctively know that it connects Downtown with Lighthouse Point & East Haven, and simply won't use it.

Posted by: Nan Bartow | March 2, 2007 9:43 AM

Can you imagine being able to walk or bike safely from Lighthouse Beach to the West Haven Beaches following the water’s edge? Can you imagine being part of a trail that goes from Maine to Florida along the seacoast? New Haven must have the vision to provide an attractive trail that will capture the imagination of vigorous individuals and families giving them an incentive to remain in New Haven working to promote a better city. New Haven must have the vision to build a trail that will to attract a new generation of energetic young people who wish to build a healthy lifestyle into their lives. If the trail is built as Frederick Olmsted envisioned it and as New Haven’s comprehensive plan approved it, the dream of being a significant link in a fantastic seacoast trail will be realized. In addition, tourists will come. If New Haven reroutes the trail along Route 1 and Woodward Avenue, that part of the trail will never be completed. New Haven will be known as the city that allowed the dream to die. Many people today wish to build a healthy lifestyle of walking, running, roller-blading, and biking into their lives. New Haven, you have a choice. Build the Harborside trail to attract these people now and in the future or lose them forever to other cities and towns. If you let this chance go, you will not get a second chance. New Haven will be known as the city who made the gap permanent. Let’s complete the gap while we still have a chance to do so.

Posted by: Paul Hammer | March 2, 2007 6:06 PM

Attached please find a letter (or material for a column) that I wrote to the Editor of the New Haven Register today.

To the Editor:

Mary O'Leary writes in today's Register (March 2) about a meeting of the Port Authority regarding a proposed bicycle and pedestrian trail ringing New Haven Harbor. There has been some concern on the part of business interests at the New Haven Terminal that a bike path would not be compatible with commercial traffic entering and leaving the Port facility for safety reasons. In actuality, the proposed trail adjacent to the terminal would be raised using sediment dredged from the Harbor, and fenced in to prevent interaction between bicyclists, walkers and trucks.

I was quoted in the article as saying that bicycle and pedestrian traffic on the proposed trail would alleviate traffic on the Q Bridge (renamed the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge because...it's a disaster!). In point of fact, I do believe that bikes and hikers might have a small impact, but I made the point that adding train stations in Stony Creek, East Haven, as well as the proposed stations in West Haven and Orange would make a substantial difference. A study of traffic on the bridge over the Quinnipiac River showed that a substantial portion of the traffic on the bridge emanates from and reverts to East Haven and the Annex.

I also said that water taxis, ferries, and amphibious "Ducks" of the kind used in Boston would make a huge difference if they plied New Haven Harbor as vehicles (pun intended) for commutation and tourism. However, as far as bicycling is concerned, we cyclists often find that we've left behind a traffic jam, so perhaps 10mph is the ideal speed for commuting. On top of that, bicycles can be placed on bus racks, vehicles used for car and vanpooling, and in train vestibules, so it's really multi-modal transportation that is the key to relieving traffic congestion.

In terms of commercial interests, tourism is one of them. A bicycle and pedestrian trail around New Haven Harbor would link up with the Vision Trails connecting New Haven Harbor with downtown New Haven, the proposed Shoreline Greenway Trail running from Lighthouse Park to Madison, the East Coast Greenway Trail that may someday link Maine to Florida, and to the Farmington Canal Rail-Trail that may someday run from New Haven Harbor or environs to Northampton, Massachusetts, with an existing spur to Amherst.

The Farmington Canal and the rail line which replaced it were both built for commercial purposes, and can now be used for commutation as well as recreation. There are so many sights of interest along these trails, including Fort Nathan Hale adjacent to East Shore Park, where Revolutionary and a Civil War era forts stand. It would be most appropriate for a web of trails to run in and around New Haven, where Pierre Lallament rode the first modern bicycle in America around the New Haven Green in the , and a Velodrome graced Lighthouse Park in an era when more people watched bicycle races than they did the national pastime of baseball.

Bicycles were responsible for paving our roads, and for the tires that lie underneath motor vehicles. More bicycles are sold in this country now than are cars. Now is the time to go back to the future, so to speak, and bring fuel-efficient human powered bicycles, along with trains, electric hybrid and natural gas fueled cars and buses, as well as ferries to relieve us of the national nightmare we have created on our highways and byways. Right now, it's possible to ride a trolley from the Trolley Museum in East Haven to and from Short Beach. Perhaps someday, trolleys will run from Philadelphia to Maine, as they once did.

Paul D. Hammer
Past President, Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition
President, Bicycle Education, Entrepreneurship, and Enrichment Programs (BEEEP!, Inc.)

462 Elm St. in the Elm City
New Haven, CT 06511
tel. 203-927-8467

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