Gabrielle Remembered; Whalley Widening
A year after a driver mowed down an 11 year-old girl on Whalley Avenue, the state prepared to start widening the congested road — endangering other pedestrians’ lives, in the view of neighborhood critics.
Thursday marked the first anniversary of the hit-and-run death of Gabrielle Alexis Lee (pictured). The driver of a Volkswagen Jetta fatally struck the girl as she was crossing Whalley Avenue at Davis Street at 9:35 p.m. on June 4, 2008 to pick up clothes at Top Kat Super Laundromat.
The tragedy helped spark a citywide “traffic-calming” movement aimed at making New Haven streets safer.
City officials gathered at the Laundromat Thursday to mark the anniversary by seeking public help in the still-active investigation of her death and touting efforts they’ve made in the past year to slow traffic.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) readied plans to begin a $9 million project next week to widen eight-tenths of a mile of the congested avenue, including the intersection where Gabrielle died. The state expects to finish widening the three-lane road between Emerson Street and the Route 63/69 interchange into four smoother-flowing lanes by Dec. 2010. The work will be broken into eight segments to try to minimize disruption to businesses and drivers.
“When it’s all finished and done we’re going to have a facility there that everybody will be happy with,” Richard Zborek, DOT’s supervising engineer on the project, declared Thursday.
“It is going to provide traffic calming. It is going to make pedestrians feel safer. For the businesses, it’s going to provide them with a shot in the arm. It’s going to improve the appearance of the neighborhood.
“We just need to be patient and wait until it’s finished. There’s going to be some havoc with construction. It’s going to be a little tough out there.”
Urban planner Christopher Heitmann (at center in photo) argued Thursday that the DOT plan will accomplish the opposite of Zborek’s predicted outcomes: It will make cars drive even faster, and make walking and biking even more perilous, than it is now. He and other local traffic-calming advocates reacted in outrage to the plan. Heitmann, executive director of the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA), organized neighborhood meetings with the DOT to try to alter the Whalley plan. He argues that their concerns fell on deaf ears.
“We want to avoid another tragedy like we had here,” Heitmann said outside Top Kat Thursday.
One Man’s “Calm” …
Heitmann and DOT’s Zborek both said they want to “calm traffic,” to slow down drivers. Their difference lies in divergent views on how to do that.
Zborek said the DOT will add “extensive plantings” along the street. That slows down drivers, he said. So does making the area more “visually appealing” rather than “an urban lot.”
DOT will also raise the height of curbs in front of shopping strips so that “anybody who wants to drive off into a private parking lot or business is going to visually see the driveway. It’s not going to be a case where there’s a couple of inches of curbing and the driver can pull off at any place and endanger the pedestrian,” Zborek said. “As you are driving by you will see the full six inches of curbing. You will see the stenciled concrete between the sidewalk and the curbing, so you know you don’t belong there as an automobile.”
He argued that these measures can cut average driving speeds by 10 miles per hour.
In addition, pedestrians will have an easier time crossing Whalley Avenue, Zborek predicted. That’s because the DOT will better “delineate” crosswalks. It will add walking signals and improve existing traffic signals. Walk signals will last longer so elderly people will have more time to cross.
A big improvement will come with the reconfiguring of Ramsdell and East Ramsdell streets (pictured), according to Zborek. Right now the streets don’t flow into each other; drivers have to turn right on Whalley, then left again in traffic, to cut across. The intersection has more accidents than “normal” as a result, Zborek said. And pedestrians have a “false sense of security” when they cross, because they don’t know if drivers will “make the S” turn to continue of Ramsdell or East Ramsdell, or turn to drive on Whalley.
The DOT plan will make the Ramsdells flow directly into each other into a newly sensible intersection. The DOT will also eliminate a convenience store driveway at the southwest corner of the intersection that used to lead into a gas station.
“As far as pedestrian safety is concerned,” Zborek said,” I think we really did a marvelous job there.”
Tell that to Heitmann. Or rather, don’t.
For starters, he criticized the DOT’s decision to remove a heavily-used crosswalk at Anthony Street near a Dunkin’ Donuts and a bus stop. Zborek said the DOT decided to move crosswalks where there are traffic and cross lights.
People will still cross there, Heitmann said. They do now, light or no light. Only it’ll become more dangerous.
“There goes someone walking across the street right now!” he said, pointing to a pedestrian down the road.
The bigger problem lies in making the avenue into four lanes, Heitmann argued. That means cars will drive faster. He said cars already average 32 miles per hour on this stretch of Whalley, which is marked for 25. A person hit by a car traveling 45 has virtually no chance of survival, said Heitmann, who before taking the WVRA job did neighborhood and public space planning for the Project for Public Spaces. At 35 miles per hour, a pedestrian has a 40 percent chance, he said; at 25, an 80 percent chance.
Heitmann’s preferred alternative, which DOT rejected: Make the stretch of Whalley all three lanes, with one lane traveling in each direction and a center turn lane to keep traffic flowing steadily but slowly.
Then there’s the bicyclist question. Heitmann noted that the state government is about to “de-list” that stretch of Whalley from its updated map of bike routes. The four-lane redo will make Whalley even less bike-friendly, he argued.
DOT’s Zborek agreed that bicyclists, especially families taking “leisure” rides, should take “parallel streets” instead. But he countered that the Whalley plan will improve biking safety by adding signs — both picture signs and signs with words — to tell drivers to share the right lane with cyclists.
Heitmann, an avid rider, wasn’t reassured. “I don’t think it’s going to be a safe route to ride. I wouldn’t ride on it. I don’t think signage will do anything,” he said.
Enforcement Stepped Up
The city’s take on the plan?
City traffic chief Michael Piscitelli (at right in photo) called the DOT plan “a major step forward. It creates a much safer environment on both sides of the roadway.”
Piscitelli, Mayor John DeStefano, and Lt. Joseph Witkowski (at left in photo), the police department’s traffic chief, spoke at Thursday’s Top Kat press conference about other measures they’ve taken to protect pedestrians since Gabrielle Lee’s death.
The cops have issued 8,400 traffic tickets so far this year, compared to 5,800 at this point last year.
Eight hundred people signed pledges to be “smart drivers” as part of a city “Street Smarts” campaign.
The city will replace 41 traffic signals in 2009. It replaced 22 in 2008. It made changes to roads like Long Wharf Drive, River Street, and Perkins Street to slow down traffic. It improved two crosswalks in 2008 around the medical school area where another pedestrian, Mila Rainof, was killed last year; it plans to improve 10 more this year.
Witkowski Thursday renewed a call for people with information about Gabrielle Lee’s killing to contact the police department at 946-8584 or 946-6314. The driver, who was behind the wheel of a dark colored 1999-2005 Jetta, remains at large. The department offers a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
“We’re going to find you,” Witkowski said of the driver. “We have not given up.”
Share this story
Posted by: anon | June 4, 2009 4:20 PM
Sounds like we should all start getting used to a 4-lane road with 50 mile per hour speeds. This one is clearly modeled after other speedy local gems like Whitney Avenue in Hamden, Tomlinson Bridge, Route 1, and the Ella Grasso Boulevard section near West River. Great for real estate values in Woodbridge; bad for the vast majority of New Haveners who don't drive to work every day.
"DOT's Zborek agreed that bicyclists, especially families taking "leisure" rides, should take "parallel streets" instead."
Hope he can explain that decision to the people who live and (try to) do business there!
Posted by: DOT's Dissonance | June 4, 2009 4:45 PM
When DOT representatives use words like "smooth" and "flow" when talking about their "improvements" citizens should be highly skeptical when they also claim that they are embracing traffic calming. I feel wretched for Gabrielle Lee's family and for everyone who must use Whalley Avenue to access Downtown New Haven. Any future pedestrian or cyclist fatality that, God forbids, occurs on Whalley Avenue should find the blame, and the liability, fall directly on the doorstep of the DOT, including the individual planners and engineers that forced this dangerous design on New Haven.
Posted by: William Kurtz | June 4, 2009 5:04 PM
I agree--very thorough and well-done story, but is Mr. Zborek joking?
The state expects to finish widening the three-lane road between Emerson Street and the Route 63/69 interchange into four smoother-flowing lanes by Dec. 2010. The work will be broken into eight segments to try to minimize disruption to businesses and drivers.
"When it's all finished and done we're going to have a facility there that everybody will be happy with," Richard Zborek, DOT's supervising engineer on the project, declared Thursday.
"It is going to provide traffic calming. It is going to make pedestrians feel safer. For the businesses, it's going to provide them with a shot in the arm. It's going to improve the appearance of the neighborhood. (emphasis is mine)With all due respect Mr. Zborek, your conclusions are nonsense. As a regular driver, pedestrian and cyclist I can tell you that in the real world, there's no way a four-lane road makes drivers any slower, pedestrians any safer or cyclists any more comfortable. How wide will the shoulder be on your new, traffic-calmed Whalley Avenue? Take a look at the Kimberly Avenue Bridge separating West Haven from New Haven to get a good idea of the effect of a high-speed four-lane road with six inch curbs and then please tell us again how this plan will 'calm' traffic. Oh, that's right--there will be signs and planters on Whalley. They will fix everything.
I feel the need to end on a positive note, so I'll compliment Mr. Zborek and the state DOT on their consideration in breaking the work up "into eight segments to try to minimize disruption to businesses and drivers." It's very important that the drivers aren't disrupted for the benefit of more vulnerable road users.
"I think we really did a marvelous job" - Richard Zborek.
During the hearing here in New Haven, Zborek was asked why Whalley Ave should be widened since there is a chokepoint at Blake St in the village.
He said that DOT's model assumes that as drivers approach that chokepoint, they turn on to side streets. However when asked whether those side streets could handle the heavier traffic, he shrugged and said they hadn't looked at that. It's outside the project area that he himself determined.
Those 'leisure' riders who can't go on Whalley because it isn't safe - according to DOT itself - will be on those same side streets, won't they?
Posted by: jillnerkowski | June 4, 2009 5:28 PM
Its a wonderful idea. I was hit by a van sideswiped on a similarily narrow bike lane road, only having 6 inches of bike lane and its just not safe to ride there, unless you go on the sidewalk and then the drivers any just as well go to the end before they see you anyway.
Posted by: anon | June 4, 2009 5:40 PM
I have a feeling that the problem with all these projects is that they never look "outside the project area."
Posted by: V | June 4, 2009 5:47 PM
There is no hope.
People drive like animals on that road as it is, and it will only get worse when it goes to 4 lanes.
The first comment by anon describes those other 4-lane roads well. Highways! Add to that list the 4-lane stretch of Edgewood by its namesake park.
No one drives the speed limit around here and the state and city make no effort to enforce the traffic laws.
Posted by: Jacki | June 4, 2009 7:00 PM
to quote Rep. Dillon:
He said that DOT's model assumes that as drivers approach that chokepoint, they turn on to side streets.
I reply -- WTF??? The DOT obviously doesn't realize (or care) that most folks coming down Whalley during rush hour are heading for work on the OTHER side of Westville Village. How will 4 lanes of fast-moving traffic calm down into 1 lane after Blake Street?
Or does the DOT plan to remove Westville Village from the map? Unbelievable.
Posted by: JackNH | June 4, 2009 7:37 PM
Unbelievable. Doesn't the death of a child mean anything? Once again, the lives of those of us who live in New Haven are endangered for the benefit of suburbanites. Does Zborek take us to be fools?
Posted by: anon | June 4, 2009 9:20 PM
V, it sounds like the city is recently making some significant efforts to enforce the traffic laws (e.g., negotiating with the unions so that they could do traffic stops past 2pm and into the evenings, and on weekends, which is when the majority of accidents occur) but it is clear that more is needed! But the city can't do everything, the state needs to help too.
Posted by: norton street | June 4, 2009 9:22 PM
the thing that must change most is driving and drivers. road infrastructure and design can influence how people use the road only so much. there needs to be a societal shift away from individual automobiles. Commuting with friends in one car would do an enormous benefit to the roads in the city and country. driving a 3+ passenger seating car with only yourself in he car is like turning on all the burners on your stove to heat up one pan. why people continue to sit in traffic to go to the same area as your neighbor is insane and idiotic. and why our tax dollars are being used to support and encourage wasteful individual driving is even stupider.
Posted by: Josh Smith | June 4, 2009 9:23 PM
Trying to ride a bike on that road is a very harrowing experience. I've done it before, but I just didn't feel safe with traffic whipping by at 35-40 mph between Woodbridge and Dayton Street. The traffic only slows down (somewhat) when the street narrows, between Dayton and the end of Fountain. Then when you get past Fountain Street, over near Edgewood Park where there are four lanes, it speeds right back up again to near-freeway speeds.
How can the DOT tell cyclists to "use parallel routes"? What happens when cyclists need to get to the north side of Whalley Avenue to get to the two banks, the post office, the restaurants, doctor's offices, or any of the other businesses in that plaza up there? What happens when they need to get to Stop and Shop to buy groceries on Amity Road? There isn't another supermarket that serves Westville besides maybe the "Edge of the Woods" market, and some cyclists don't care for the vegan/vegetarian stuff there.
The DOT is adding more lanes for cars so motorists can get places faster (and as a motorist I do appreciate that), but cyclists are forced once again to be second-class citizens, told to "use other routes" instead of safely being able to use the main road. I wish I could say that I just don't understand, but I understand all too well. I just don't understand why there couldn't have been a compromise here between the group that tried to change the plans for Whalley and the State DOT. No, Mr. Zborek, not everyone will be happy with this road. Not the way you've planned it. Thank goodness I don't live on it anymore. I may move back to New Haven some day, but I will not move back to Westville -- not without bike lanes or other protections to help keep cyclists safe.
Posted by: Chicwa | June 4, 2009 9:31 PM
It seems obvious that the state government is more concerned with vehicle commuters that travel through an area than those that actually live in them. This is yet another reason why mandatory voting at all levels of government is important.
How does widening an arterial road calm traffic? Does he think that if they have planters and improved landscaping that the bourgeois Woodbridgians will slow down to take in the atmosphere of this newly improved area?
Perhaps someone should design a portable speed hump that residents can apply to certain streets themselves.
Posted by: Tim Holahan | June 4, 2009 10:41 PM
I drive this stretch of Whalley four times a day every weekday at rush hour, taking my daughter to and from daycare. If I drive the speed limit of 25 miles an hour, traffic backs up behind me and other drivers honk at me.
I share the frustration of other posters, but I think it's important not to give up hope that the situation on Whalley and in New Haven in general can improve.
I'm told by more knowledgeable people that safety can be ensured by three E's: engineering, education, and enforcement. Research shows that the first E, engineeering, is usually the most effective.
Chris Heitmann and Mark Abraham of the Coalition for a Livable Whalley have done excellent work pushing for better engineering on Whalley and elsewhere in the city. Just because we haven't won this one doesn't mean there won't be many more opportunities to have an impact on planning. Please click the link above and sign up for the CLW mailing list. If you don't live near Whalley, join the broader Safe Streets Coalition. More people turning out at events like this will have an impact.
Second, until we can get better engineering, we should demand better enforcement. On my daily drives to Woodbridge, I rarely see police, and when I do, they are rarely writing tickets. Traffic law enforcement has to take a higher priority among quality of life issues in the city. The most effective way to communicate with the NHPD is to participate in your Community Management Team. The Westville-West Hills CMT has done great work on traffic issues, and will not give up. Find out when your CMT meetings are and show up. The next one for Westville-West Hills is Wednesday, 6/10, at 6:30 at the Valley Street Substation.
Posted by: Westville Mike | June 4, 2009 11:08 PM
Finally, DOT helping improve traffic flow in this town! I moved here a year ago and can't believe how poorly traffic moves in New Haven. With Yale & YNH hospital barricading one half of the city from the other, CT34 connector soon to vanish, and Frontage Rd under consideration for neighborhood development, it's only getting worse. Just try traveling from Westville to Fair Haven - impossible. I don't know the merits of 3 lanes vs. 4 on Whalley, but I'm glad to see the engineers win one by doing something rather than nothing. BTW, ride your bikes on Valley St. or Fairfield St. instead of Whalley - safer and more scenic (but a little hilly).
Posted by: observer | June 4, 2009 11:24 PM
A timely article. Thank you.
I have often thought a good motto would be, Don't get killed in New Haven; they'll never find your killer. Penny Serra (well, they did finally catch that one, 25 years later), Suzanne Jovin, Gabrielle Lee.
How difficult, really, would it have been for the police to do a computer check to locate the owners of dark colored 1999-2005 Volkswagen Jettas registered in the state? And then follow up on any seemingly possible culprits? (For example, people living in the west side of town, or in communities to the west.) By now, surely that car, wherever it is, has been repaired, and evidence is lost.
It sounds as if now the investigation is passive, waiting for tips to come in.
Mr. Zborek, at the Edgewood School meeting last summer (after which he was reported by the NHI to be Mr. Zbrozek -- which is it?) clearly had no interest in trying to accommodate any of the many objections his plans drew from Westville residents. Mr. Piscitelli (who, don't get me wrong, has many redeeming qualities; often does a good job) made a passionate appeal that we not gum up the works, lest Connecticut state money be diverted elsewhere, instead of to Whalley Avenue, leaving New Haven without this "improvement" at all.
Such is the status of traffic planning in New Haven and Connecticut, at a time when communities all over the country are devising enlightened solutions all the time for accommodating traffic, pedestrians, cyclists, all together.
Such is the status of murder investigations in New Haven.
Policepeople: could we at least get some traffic enforcement against red light runners at Fountain Street and Forest Road?
Posted by: jay | June 5, 2009 7:01 AM
you all make me sick, including you Mr. Bass. This was about trying to catch the killer of a little girl and you turn it into your own personal agenda. Shame on you!! You call should apologize dorectly to the Lee family for using her death for your personal agenda. You disgust me - but I have no doubt that you will find someone to turn this around and justify your actions.
I'm hoping that one of the issues to be addressed is the lack of lane demarcations on Whalley Ave. approaching Ramsdell, heading east. There are two lanes heading toward the light, the left is commonly used by drivers turning left onto E Ramsdell and the right by those going straight on Whalley.
When drivers in both lanes intend to go straight, they play chicken to see who will get to go first when the street turns into one lane. In the morning, it gets even more dangerous when many drivers turn into Dunkin Donuts on the right and cars on the right side of the road get squeezed by stopped traffic waiting to turn into DD (where there's frequently a line of cars that stretches into the road), aggressive drivers passing on the left and the city bus.
Posted by: anon | June 5, 2009 9:55 AM
"Or does the DOT plan to remove Westville Village from the map?"
Actually, that was the original plan.
Just like the first one, this project should be scrapped until the DOT learns how to design something the neighborhood can live (literally) with.
A four lane highway through the middle of one of the most densely populated urban neighborhoods in Connecticut is unacceptable. For one thing, four lane highways should NEVER be built in urban environments unless pedestrian refuge medians are provided.
The city knows all of this, and their comprehensive plan directly contradicts what the DOT has come up with here. But they are afraid of losing the money.
Posted by: anon | June 5, 2009 10:04 AM
Jay, in light of all the other well-thought-out comments here, and the fact that the press conference covered several different topics, your attack on Mr. Bass just leaves me puzzled. Care to explain more?
Posted by: anon | June 5, 2009 10:51 AM
http://sustainablesavannah.com/transportation/rancor-over-jaywalking-fines-grows-but-key-point-still-overlooked/ has a nice illustration of Tim Holahan's point.
Posted by: Tim Holahan | June 5, 2009 12:02 PM
Gabrielle Lee was killed because someone drove recklessly on Whalley Avenue. Disregard for traffic laws and safety is a serious problem in our city, and in this sad case, it led to the death of a child. Many more children and adults are injured all the time, but don't get our attention.
I don't know the Lee family, but I can't imagine that they would consider it disrespectful to Gabrielle's memory or a misuse of this event to address the root problem.
The Mayor did so in his remarks that opened the press conference, as did Mike Piscitelli.
Paul and Carole Bass have worked hard to bring attention and thoughtful debate to this issue as they have done for many others. As I see it, they deserve our thanks and respect.
Posted by: jay | June 5, 2009 1:07 PM
as I understand through other news coverage, this was an attempt to bring to justice the individual or individuals that are responsible for this. This was not a Whalley Avenue reconstruction press conference.
But as I stated, there will be people to turn this into their own agenda. I am sorry that you proved me right.
I hope the person responsible is caught and the family can have some sort of closure.
Posted by: Josh Smith | June 5, 2009 1:31 PM
Some people in New Haven are trying to help prevent another child's death from happening. I don't think Gabrielle's family would be angry in the least bit with them for trying to save someone else's child from dying or being injured -- conversely, I think they would be (or are) happy that they are trying so hard to protect their neighbors from reckless drivers, with the hope that another child won't suffer the same unfortunate fate. I hope you can see it from that point of view.
But the city can't do everything, the state needs to help too.
Really? It looks like the state is off the hook. From this article, it appears that the city has signed off on whatever DOT is doing.
It may be that Richard "I think we really did a marvelous job" Zborek listened and has made important changes that improve pedestrian safety on Whalley. But I can only go by the information included in this timely, helpful article.
1. "leisure" riders should stay off Whalley.
2. the city has doubled down on traffic tickets.
3. DOT is sticking with four lanes
4. DOT will do plantings. (Will it care for them?)
Other information - on Emerson realignment for example - reflects no change.
A major benefit - not mentioned here but mentioned in 2008 - is sewer work.
What are the design changes? How is walkability improved? Why are crosswalks being eliminated? How will a four lane "highway" - DOT's language - improve safety and reduce vehicular speed?
Posted by: anon | June 5, 2009 3:12 PM
"How will a four lane "highway" - DOT's language - improve safety and reduce vehicular speed?"
It won't. And it won't have pedestrian refuge medians either (as 4-lane highways in urban areas are required to in virtually every other part of the world), which means that the design virtually guarantees that many more pedestrians will be seriously injured and killed.
Posted by: Tim Holahan | June 5, 2009 3:30 PM
This press conference was called by the Mayor. His remarks were primarily about traffic safety and enforcement, as were Mike Piscitelli's. Both of them also discussed the DOT's Whalley project. I would say more than half of the press conference was devoted to those two subjects.
Just after 1 PM yesterday afternoon, the Mayor's campaign sent out an email with the subject line "Keeping Our Streets Safe" that mentioned enforcement of motor vehicle laws. If anyone is using this sad anniversary for their own purposes, it's not Paul Bass or the community activists who've worked on the issue.
It's important that justice be served in the Lee case, but it's equally important that an accident like this one not happen again.
Raising the question of whether the city and state's plan for Whalley is truly an evidenced-based plan for preventing future accidents seems to me to be consistent with respecting Gabrielle Lee's memory.
Posted by: V | June 5, 2009 7:48 PM
Anon: I agree that the police department has made an emphasis to at least publicize their efforts at traffic enforcement, but I can still feel drivers behind breathing down my neck.
I have been to towns where everyone drives the speed limit. Everyone. And it was because everyone knew that if you were going 30 in a 25, you would be ticketed.
Make Whalley one lane in each direction. If the commute was longer, maybe more people would live AND work in New Haven.
Posted by: Streever | June 5, 2009 10:06 PM
You'd think the abomination of route 34 would teach us something. Planting a few trees does not make a street improved.
Just as I asked at the meeting last summer:
Who is going to water the trees
Who will do maintenance/repair on the sidewalks & pedestrian features
I kid you know, Zborek told me the neighbors would.
Delusional, dangerous, & destructive. Get this guy--and DOT--out of our city.
Posted by: The Defender | June 6, 2009 9:26 AM
If any one has information about the death of Gabrielle Alexis Lee PLEASE call the New Haven Police Departments' Investigative Division at 946-6304 or the Traffic Division.
Posted by: FACT CHECK | June 7, 2009 9:48 AM
A year later, another hit-and-run MURDER has occurred in this City. Bumper stickers, awareness programs, City Press conferences have all but proved useless. Time to start cracking down on reckless, wild, killer drivers and stop the "fuzzy programs, street smarts"
More blood has been spilled. (Division and Mansfield)
Posted by: anon | June 7, 2009 2:27 PM
V, I agree with that, though it may be that the increase in ticketing will take some time to have an impact. It also may just not be enough. Has anyone done a rough calculation of enforcement tickets per capita / per VMT in New Haven, compared with other towns in Connecticut?
As far as Whalley goes, making it one lane should definitely be on the table - the new two lane version is going to be a 55MPH highway that destroys the neighborhood. The only possible silver lining is that the city gets the new paving and new sidewalks, and the new sewers that are desperately needed, and then in a year or so, the community can double back and force conversion of the 2nd lane into a bus-only lane.
Posted by: anon | June 7, 2009 4:53 PM
"A year later, another hit-and-run MURDER has occurred in this City."
Fatal crashes continue to occur, on a very regular basis, until our streets are properly designed.
Posted by: yankfan | June 8, 2009 4:26 PM
As one who lives in the Westville area and just down the street from the Davis/Whalley intersection and drive it daily I can say this. Whalley Ave up in this section of New Haven is awful. The road southbound into New Haven from Amity Rd area is a total mess. Its actually a dangerous road to drive and I myself have been in one accident at the Whalley/Westerleigh Rd intersection and have witnessed many other accidents in this stretch. People have a nasty habit of not stopping at any of the stop lights when they turn red, there aways seems to be two or three cars that zip through the lights right after it turns red.
The main problem with this stretch of road is so many people use it to get from New Haven to the Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway. The intersection on Whalley that leads to Wilbur Cross south bound is also another area where accidents happen weekly. If they reconfigure RT34 in New Haven it will force many more drivers onto Whalley as they will not have any way from down town up to Route 15. For us locals who live and walk along this road, the drivers do tend to drive way to fast for the road. They tend to ignore the lane markings for the southbound lane and drive it as a two laned road even though it's only marked as one lane (while the north bound lane is two lanes).
No mater what is done to reconfigure the roads someone will not be happy. One thing that would help is to see active law enforcement of red light runners, cell phone talkers and speeders both up in this area Whalley and the rest of New Haven. All too often I see the police officers simply ignore what happens around them. Its not to say they don't but more than a few times I've seen them sitting at various intersections up here (at red lights), ignore the person in the next car yaking away with a cell phone to their ear, and also to not pull over those who run the opposing red light when theirs turns green.
Posted by: anon | June 8, 2009 5:15 PM
"If they reconfigure RT34 in New Haven it will force many more drivers onto Whalley as they will not have any way from down town up to Route 15."
I disagree with that. Nobody is proposing to shut down Route 34 completely. The residents and city hall just want to turn it into a street that people might actually want to live or conduct business on (in part because that would be good for the city's tax base).
The volume of traffic is certainly a concern here, as you point out, but the world contains many examples of high-volume roads that are tame, encouraging of pedestrian, bike and transit use, and even beautiful. New Haven can do better.
Posted by: bikefriendlytowns | June 15, 2009 2:21 PM
Zborek and his outdated, destructive ideas are the main reason behind many of the deaths on our roads, and the decline in peoples quality of life who live along main arteries.
When is Connecticut's DOT going to catch up, start building some complete streets along our main roads, and provide people with safe alternatives to driving, instead of using tax dollars to subsidize it.
Anyone for a trolley the length of route 1 in CT? I know plenty of guys who are available to help build it..
Posted by: Josh Smith | June 16, 2009 12:50 AM
Hey Bikefriendlytowns... I'd volunteer to put in some time to help build it too! :) There actually is a bus that goes all the way from Norwalk to Milford on Route 1, called the Coastal Link, but yeah, I would much rather have it be a streetcar, cause they don't seem to lurch as badly as buses do.
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