Flowers Join Rubber Duckies As Traffic-Calmers

Julia Zorthian PhotoPotted plants are coming to some dangerous intersections in town, as a plan to spend $400,000 on 26 “traffic-calming” projects advances down the road to fruition.

City transit chief Doug Hausladen unveiled a preliminary version of that plan at the most recent weekly meeting of the Resource Allocation Committee, which reviews how money gets divvied up to pave streets, fix sidewalks, and slow down cars.

City of New Haven DraftThe preliminary table Hausladen passed out includes $300,000 in construction and $100,000 in design and professional costs for jobs selected from recommendations by neighbors to slow vehicles and create safer environments for pedestrians or bikers.

Hausladen emphasized that the list is a draft, not a final, approved document. It’s shown here.

A number of the proposed repairs are permanent, such as curb definition. Some are more temporary, such as paint markings and traffic delineators.

In addition to speed humps, which have popped up around town in recent years, Hausladen added some new ideas — such as flower baskets placed on the sides of streets — that he said will narrow the road and encourage drivers to slow down.

Bumpouts are planned for Clinton Avenue, Cleveland Road, and Hall Street. Speed humps are planned for Hallock Street.

“Visually, if something’s in the road, it makes you think ‘Whoa,’” Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Pugh (at right in photo) said during the meeting, which took place last Thursday afternoon at the municipal office building at 200 Orange St., as committee members and city officials discussed the mental effects on drivers of shortening street widths.

Hausladen (left in photo) explained that crossing distance on a street is proportional to the speed with which people drive down it. So for every foot of crossing distance the city narrows, either on main arterial roads or in residential areas, traffic should slow with it.

In addition to beautification, flower baskets provide quicker solutions for dangerous roadways than bump outs or speed humps. Hausladen said he proposed the baskets for Greenhill Terrace, Hemlock Road and Truman Street because Urban Resources Initiative Community Greenspace groups are active in those areas. So the city could draw up contracts for maintaining the potted street plants.

Neighbors should not expect to see many city streets lined with flowerpots soon, since more of the projects recommended paint and plastic post delineators (aka “rubber duckies”) that can be bolted to the pavement (such as the type currently in use on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard).

Hausladen said some of the more urgent and temporary projects can go into effect this fall. Others would make sense to wait for coordination with the Department of Public Works, to see if the city could coordinate constructing speed humps with streets already undergoing repaving, he said.

He said his department plans on returning to areas that submitted these requests for traffic-calming measures and receiving feedback about their proposed solutions.  Pugh asked him to keep the other members of the committee informed about neighbors’ responses.

Paving Planning Continues

Before Hausladen presented his draft of proposed traffic calming measures, the group discussed revised versions of the street paving and sidewalk repair draft budgets.

As planned for at the previous week’s meeting, DPW Chief of Operations Jeff Pescosolido, Municipal Civil Engineer Joseph Krupa and Assistant City Engineer Larry Smith coordinated between the city’s DPW and Engineering Department to determine which budgets to tap and whether certain streets were slated for multiple reconstructions.

Chief Administrative Officer Michael Carter said earlier that day he had walked down High Street, which DPW recommended the city mill and fill, and observed that Yale University appeared to be finishing up the construction projects on Old Campus.

“We’re probably going to recommend they get that done before the students come back,” he said, indicating the project is slated for completion before Aug. 20.

Krupa also handed out a revised draft of the sidewalk repair proposals, including three additional streets that could possibly make up the remaining $153,000 in un-allocated budget.

Work on the three stretches of repairs on Elm Street, Emerson Street and Dayton Street would cost $236,250, so Krupa said the group would have to discuss which projects should be prioritized.


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posted by: robn on August 11, 2014  8:45am

Somebody, I think ANONYMOUS or HOPKINS, once suggested Seattle’s brand of traffic circle. That is a mini version which is essentially a planter in the middle of an intersection. The city should try to pilot a few of these at low cost, without tearing up the underlying pavement (maybe there’s a product out there like a Jersey barrier which interlocks to provide a shallow planting bed.)

posted by: BenBerkowitz on August 11, 2014  9:38am

Its really nice to see New Haven continuing to take real actions to create an environment of civility. As a cyclist and pedestrian it feels like its paying off.


posted by: Brian V on August 11, 2014  10:21am

There is just this type of circle on Woodward Ave, 2 of them actually, and they are great at slowing the traffic down. They went in about 6 years ago and ave made a big difference. I wish they would put them in everywhere.

posted by: robn on August 11, 2014  11:08am


I remember now! (links below). These look like they may have required some street widening though. I thought the Seattle ones were of a size that didn’t require street widening (something I think is important to avoid so neighbors get on board.)

posted by: LeeCruz on August 11, 2014  3:45pm

Although the join City and neighborhood association funded traffic calming study ( calls for chokers (or what some folks call bump outs) on Clinton Avenue the neighborhood welcomes any design enhancements that will slow down traffic on Clinton Avenue. We have had several near miss-accidents in the last couple of years involving people, a dog was killed by a speeding car last year and as recently as this weekend there was an accident involving vehicles traveling at speeds that put people at risk on Clinton Avenue near Grand Ave.

The intersection of Grand and Front could also use some traffic calming measures. Given the width of the street at this intersection, the number of accidents in just the past year, the investment that the City will be making on the Grand Avenue bridge in the next couple of years and the number of people crossing this intersection with children to get to Quinnipiac Park it just makes sense to do something sooner rather than later. Something similar to what was is being done at the intersection of Whitney and Audubon would be great at this intersection.

Thank you Doug for moving traffic calming forward in New Haven!

posted by: Esbey on August 11, 2014  6:28pm

The best news is how inexpensive are many of these projects—a lot of value for not that much money.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 11, 2014  11:03pm

A waste of money.

posted by: budman on August 12, 2014  9:07pm

design and “professional work” is 25% of the budget???  are you kidding me?  how about we hire people who really know how to do their job.
flowers on Greenhill Street for 15k?  seriously?  the bus stop on ramsdell and fountain is completely overgrown with 6 foot weeds (as posted on seeclickfix).  Now we’ll have something else that is not maintained?  do we get to vote on this?  and what do these flowers do to calm traffic for the 6 months out of the year that the weather won’t allow them to grow?
Is there data to back up the need for this egregious spending?  Or do the incompetent people in this administration get to do whatever they want? (sorry, I think I answered my own question here)
“whoa”  this is crazy!  and what about police enforcement?  is this not part of the equation?

posted by: TheMadcap on August 13, 2014  6:49am

“and what do these flowers do to calm traffic for the 6 months out of the year that the weather won’t allow them to grow?”

The flowers don’t matter, it’s the size of the object they’re in next to the street.

“Is there data to back up the need for this egregious spending?”

Yes, this has been pretty accepted methods of traffic calming for a long time. Stuff near the road, even other cars if on street parking is more than a block long, make drivers go slower. You could line the curb with plain cement bollards and it’d have the same effect, but be more ugly.

posted by: Beth1 on August 15, 2014  12:35am

I think adopting strategies proven successful in other, similar cities is an efficient practice. Improved livability makes New Haven more attractive to businesses and residents, increasing our tax base.