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“Pork Chop Island” Vanishes

by Thomas MacMillan | Jul 17, 2012 2:56 pm

(56) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Transportation

Two hard-won traffic islands have disappeared from the planned reworking of streets around the $140 million “Downtown Crossing” project—meaning pedestrians might have to cross five lanes of traffic in one shot.

That is the latest twist in an ongoing debate over whether Downtown Crossing and the attendant reconfiguring of the Route 34 Connector “mini-highway-to-nowhere” shortchanges walkers and cyclists at the expense of cars.

The inclusion of the two islands in the plans—at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Church Street—was seen as a victory for the project’s “safe streets”-oriented critics.

City spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton said officials edited some traffic-calming elements out of the plans because they were “not technically feasible or in conflict with other bike/ped[estrian] improvements.”

Among the deletions: a traffic island on Church, at MLK, dubbed “Pork Chop Island” by state traffic engineers because of its shape.

The other island, on Church Street north of the intersection, was never properly submitted on the plans, said a DOT staffer.

Benton’s rationale of bike/ped improvements being in conflict with each other is a false premise, said Ryan Lynch, policy director for an advocacy group called the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The real problem is that engineers are starting with the assumption that the road needs five lanes of automobile traffic, and forcing bike and pedestrian infrastructure to fit around that, he said.

That has been a persistent complaint raised by critics of Downtown Crossing, which calls for the Rt. 34 corridor to be converted into two “urban boulevards.” With state and federal money, Route 34 will be filled in with new buildings, the first phase of which will be new labs and offices for bio-tech companies at 100 College St.

In the more than three years that Downtown Crossing has been in the works, the plan has come under fire from cycling and pedestrian advocates. They say that it will not meet its stated goal of reconnecting downtown and the Hill with a walkable and vibrant neighborhood. Critics have said that the redesign of Route 34 remains too car-centered, without sufficient accommodations for bikers and walkers.

Proponents say that the plan will expand the city’s tax base and bring jobs to the city. Faced with design criticisms, they point to the fact that design and planning have been the subject of dozens of public meetings.

Last August, some of the critics—including 11 aldermen and a state representative—called on the city to make the project more amenable for cyclists and pedestrians. By November, they had won a number of changes to the plans, including curb “bump-outs,” narrower lanes, raised intersections, and traffic islands to shorten crossing distances for pedestrians.

Two of those islands were inked into a “Draft Bike Plan” dated July 18, 2011. They were drawn in red as “Features added post 30% design,” according to a legend on the plan. Click here to see the design.

One island was inked in just east of the intersection of Church and MLK, between the bike lane and right-turn lane on the north side of MLK and the other four lanes of traffic south of it. Another island was placed on the north side of the intersection, between two lanes each of north and south bound traffic. The entire intersection was also marked as a raised intersection or “speed table”.

In the latest plans, however, both of the islands are conspicuously absent. The intersection is still raised. The plans, which show the design at 90 percent complete, were received by the City Plan Department on July 3 and have been on display in the office since then.

According to city spokeswoman Benton, state “bike planners” determined that “while the island would improve the crossing experience for pedestrians, it would be dangerous for bikers who would have to cross the right turn lane traffic in order to go straight.”

Other planned traffic-calming measures made the island unnecessary, she said. “In the end, we all agreed that the narrowed travel lanes, textured cross walks, raised intersections, and queuing implemented together would result in significantly slower traffic speeds, greater pedestrian and bike safety, and would negate the need for the island.”

In a conference call Tuesday, Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick and several other DOT staffers explained further why “Pork Chop Island” was deleted. The main reason, Nursick said; There was simply not enough room for it.

Planners could not find a way to put in an island that would be big enough to safely accommodate people in wheelchairs, Nursick said. “The size of the Pork Chop Island would be so minimal that it would not provide an effective area of refuge.”

An undersized island could actually make such people less safe than no island at all would, he argued: They could get clipped by passing cars while stopped there. An island would also create complications for blind pedestrians, he said.

What’s more, an island would “channelize” the right hand turn lane, Nursick said. It would “give people the feeling that they have the right of way.” When right-turners are channeled with a traffic island, “they tend to blow through those right turns. That’s not a good thing.”

Dave Head, a DOT planner, said engineers were dealing with “a perfect storm” at that intersection. Pedestrians, cyclists, and cars all come together there as a bike lane transitions from one separated by a curb to an “on-road facility.”

“There’s just a lot going on there. That island just exacerbated those conflicts,” Head said.

“An Outdated Thought Process”

“Now the crossing is much longer for the pedestrians,” said East Rock Justin Elicker, who helped lead the charge for bike- and pedestrian-friendly changes to the plans last year.

That’s problematic for two reasons, Elicker said. First, traffic islands slow down cars. Second, they allow pedestrians to break up a long crossing into two sections.

So, for instance, a mother with a stroller wouldn’t have to walk all the way across five lanes, just four and then one.

Elicker said there’s no reason designers can’t move the traffic island on MLK Boulevard to the south side of the street, if it otherwise would be too close to the bike lane on the north side. DOT staffers said there’d be no room for it there either.

“I don’t think anyone is disingenuous in the process. But there’s not a can-do attitude by the powers that be to say, ‘let’s figure this out,” Elicker said.

“There are five lanes of traffic on one side of that intersection and four lanes on the other. There’s room to work there. Can we narrow the road? Can we put other traffic calming measures in there?”

“You talk to any community head and bicycle advocate in the city and they would express deep frustration with this process,” Elicker said. The traffic island was part of the compromise that happened at the Board of Aldermen last year, he said. Now it’s just been taken out and nothing has been added to compensate for its loss, he said.

“It’s disappointing,” said Lynch, who works for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which advocates for more “balanced” and environmentally friendly transportation networks in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Tri-State has been acting as an observer, supporter, adviser, and occasional critic of the Downtown Crossing plan.

Lynch rejected the “rationale” that the islands had to be removed because of conflicts with other bicycle or pedestrian improvements.

“The reason we can’t do this is because there are five lanes of traffic,” he said. “That’s the problem. They’re framing this as bikes and pedestrians in conflict with one other. ... The ultimate issue is that they’re over-accommodating automobile traffic at the expense of infrastructure that supports a safe walking and biking environment. ... The problem is the baseline. The baseline is that there are five lanes of traffic. It’s an outdated thought process.”

Lynch said Tri-State still supports the overall project, which will be “better than what exists now.” He said he hopes to “continue working with the city and Conn DOT on a solution that prioritizes” biking and walking over “moving cars as fast as possible through that intersection.”

He acknowledged that it’s more difficult to make changes now that the project’s design is 90 percent complete. “They dropped this information pretty late in the game.”

“The design all but guarantees that many ‘multiple threat collisions’ will occur,” said bike and pedestrian advocate Mark Abraham. “I am not sure why our engineers and policy makers continue allow the creation of roadways that kill people, especially roadways funded through Federal ‘livability’ grants that are specifically intended to reduce these hazards.”

Officials: Cars Have Been Giving and Giving

“The intersection at Church and MLK has always been the biggest challenge for the project team,” said city spokeswoman Benton. Working with Nelson/Nygaard planners (“our bike/ped consultant”), the city convinced the state to accept a number of improvements, she said. “ConnDOT [the state Department of Transportation] eased their lane configuration requirements, agreed to raised intersections (never before done on an arterial anywhere in the country as best we can tell) and agreed to allow longer queuing lengths in anticipation of traffic ‘evaporation’ as drivers choose other routes or means of transportation.”

Benton rejected the notion that Downtown Crossing is designed for cars over bikes or walkers: “To say that the plan gives priority to the automobile is grossly unfair and simply incorrect. The city, with the cooperation of ConnDOT has pushed the limits of transportation engineering practices to develop a plan that meets the bare minimum standards for vehicular accommodations while maintaining eligibility for financing through the Federal Highway Authority’s funding program.”

According to traffic design standards, “ideally you’d be looking at seven lanes of traffic there,” Nursick said. “Many great concessions were made here to allow for more and better bike/ped amenities. One of those was reducing the lanes to five and reducing the [lane] width from 12 feet to 10 feet.” That makes a much shorter distance to cross there, Nursick said.

He later said that it would have been impossible to put in seven lanes there anyway, because of the way the space is already built out.

Nursick talked up the intersections “exclusive phase” pedestrian crossings, “so when you press the button all traffic on all legs is stopped.”

He mentioned the intersection’s bike boxes, areas at the front of the car lanes set aside for bikes stopped at lights. The bike boxes will allow cyclists to safely move over to prepare for left-hand turns, Head said. The bike boxes will have video detection systems so that bikes will trigger green lights, Nursick said.

What Happened To… Meatloaf Island?

As for the other island on the “Features added post 30% design” plans, Greg Soja, a project engineer with state DOT said the city never submitted plans with that island, in the middle of church street on the north side of the intersection. “I don’t really ever recall the city submitting an actual plan that showed that. I’m not sure that island on the north leg there ever really got developed. I think those were just concepts.”

Elicker said he’d thought that the north island was more than simply a concept. “Our understanding is that was the city’s proposal for what they’re going to submit to the state.”

Elicker said he, Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen, and state Rep. Roland Lemar will meet with city and state officials on Thursday at 4 p.m. to talk over the plans.

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posted by: Stephanie1 on July 17, 2012  3:19pm

Five lanes of traffic are too many for a pedestrian to cross! Pedestrians need to be able to cross the street at a reasonable pace.  Islands help break up the lanes of motor traffic and allow pedestrians time to get across the street.  Also, the islands give a human scale the crossing.  It says that pedestrians are important, not just cars and trucks.

posted by: streever on July 17, 2012  3:26pm

This plan is horribly mismanaged.

One of the islands—which was promised to advocates and actually used to mock a questioner at one of the meetings who was told to “read the plans” before they said anything—was not even submitted?

Seriously?

This plan is government inefficiency and sloppiness at its best. While the goals are noble, and the intentions sound, burying public concerns, doing sloppy work, and misunderstanding the basic premise of “highway removal” is one of the most awful ways to go about anything that I have ever heard of.

As a side note, thank you, Miss Benton, for telling us that we need to prioritize cars more in our highway removal plan. I’m really frustrated that a city official thinks the best thing to do with an area is make it harder for pedestrians to cross, but easier for people from other towns to zip in and out of the city.

This is the exact same thinking that plagued the 1950s Route 34 project, and shifted it from the good intentions and smart progressive plans of Olmstead in the 10s and 20s.

I think our “civic leaders” would benefit from learning the history of this area, urban planning as it applies to New Haven, and the 100 year anniversary of the original Oak Street Connector plan.

While Wikipedia lists it as a 1950s plan, this plan is actually a century old, and marred by setbacks, fuzzy logic, and poor thinking.

I’d love to nominate Jonathan Hopkins or Mark Abraham to give Benton, Murphy, Gilvarg, and any other interested parties a tour of the area and explain to them how similar their current plan is.

posted by: anonymous on July 17, 2012  3:35pm

Stephanie1, the distance from one side to the other is 65 feet. Our city planners and DOT officials would be able to sprint across that distance. 

Once again, there is absolutely zero consideration given to what it is like to not be a middle aged, single man or woman, or someone pushing a stroller to the train station or Hill neighborhood. 

The Board of Aldermen and Mayor’s Office urgently need to fix this mess, and hire people who have a modicum of empathy for other human beings.

posted by: HhE on July 17, 2012  3:39pm

Maybe we could just name each intersection in honor of the first pedestrian killed there.

posted by: Threefifths on July 17, 2012  3:44pm

posted by: Stephanie1 on July 17, 2012 3:19pm

Five lanes of traffic are too many for a pedestrian to cross! Pedestrians need to be able to cross the street at a reasonable pace.  Islands help break up the lanes of motor traffic and allow pedestrians time to get across the street.  Also, the islands give a human scale the crossing.  It says that pedestrians are important, not just cars and trucks

No problem use Moving walkways.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_hive/2010/07/should_cities_install_moving_sidewalks.html

posted by: Eva G on July 17, 2012  4:06pm

Aw, come on. This is really revolting. Is there really no way to build this thing in such a way that I’ll feel safe walking to my husband’s office with my child in tow? This is ridiculous. I admit I am not a designer of urban spaces and I have zero expertise in the field but it does seem to me that it’s a bit rich, asking people to cross five lanes of traffic, which I’m sure will be dominated by people running red lights and have a walk signal timed for all of 15 seconds. We’ve got to be able to do better than this. We have got to.

posted by: anonymous on July 17, 2012  4:12pm

Nursick says that the lane widths are 10 feet now, which reduces the crossing distance. Perhaps the City didn’t tell him, but that’s no longer true either.

posted by: HhE on July 17, 2012  4:43pm

Threefifths, do propose to use moving pavements in lieu of sidewalks so those of us who enjoy the exercise of walking can get fatter and diabetic instead, or put them across streets to address the concerns of Stephanie1 and other posters?  It might be fun to watch cars get puled to the side every time they crossed an intersection, but I am not sure the technology is up to it.  Anyway, who gets to pay for it?  May be we could use parking meters set to 10PM, oh wait, that would be tyranny. 

This car centric insanity makes me want to put my head in a Number 52 Record Vise, and crank the handle.  Even in New York City they put pedestrian islands in after so many lanes.  There are major intersections in China with pedestrian bridges.  How bad are we that China is can show more care for safety?

posted by: Threefifths on July 17, 2012  5:13pm

posted by: HhE on July 17, 2012 4:43pm

There are major intersections in China with pedestrian bridges.  How bad are we that China is can show more care for safety?

And cities like Hong Kong, China, have been rediscovering this century-old vision.Completed in 1993, the Mid Levels escalator stretches a horizontal distance of 800 meters through the centre of the city and climbs a vertical height of 135 meters. This incredible system of moving sidewalks and escalators has become a widely-used method of transportation, carrying more than 55,000 passengers each day. Hovering at a level above the street, the system possesses 20 connections to the ground below and the surrounding buildings. Hong Kong citizens use the system for various reasons, including commuting work, visiting shopping districts or malls, and reaching the bars or clubs downtown.

Read the rest.

cities like Hong Kong, China, have been rediscovering this century-old vision.

Completed in 1993, the Mid Levels escalator stretches a horizontal distance of 800 meters through the centre of the city and climbs a vertical height of 135 meters. This incredible system of moving sidewalks and escalators has become a widely-used method of transportation, carrying more than 55,000 passengers each day. Hovering at a level above the street, the system possesses 20 connections to the ground below and the surrounding buildings. Hong Kong citizens use the system for various reasons, including commuting work, visiting shopping districts or malls, and reaching the bars or clubs downtown.

Your Point.

posted by: Anstress Farwell on July 17, 2012  5:18pm

See page 26 of our report on Downtown Crossing for information from a study by Peter Swift, P.E., on street widths and injury severity level. This project was creating a public safety problem when its five lane intersections totaled 50 ft in width. At 65 ft, it is literally off the chart.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/85534610/TIGER-New-Haven-Concerns-League-03-2012

posted by: RevKev on July 17, 2012  5:30pm

As I see it the problem here isn’t just with the plan. The problem is really with the process. And it happens in this city over and over again.

“Faced with design criticisms, they point to the fact that design and planning have been the subject of dozens of public meetings.”

We find variation on this quote in just about every major project that I’ve been around since getting to this fine city. A bunch of meetings but folks still mad at each other. To me that means the public meeting process is broken. (It is unthinkable to suggest that one side or the other is evil.) Every time we have a bunch of “public” meetings and we end up with the “public” mad at “the city.” Every time. Yet we keep doing it like this! What do they call it when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

If we want to “fix” this city then I think the first thing we need to do if “fix” the way we collaborate. There is too much intelligence in this region for us to not be the best in the nation. But you’d never know it because we don’t know how to work together.

And what the heck is with pitting modes of transportation against each other? We need a Civil War? This time over streets? Look… I have a car, a bike and feet. I drive, I ride and I walk. And whichever I’m doing at the time I need it to be the safest it can reasonably be. That makes me an EXTRA careful driver because I have seen examples of what my car can do to a cyclist or a pedestrian. I don’t want to live with having accidentally killed or seriously injured someone with my SUV. Nor do I want to be the one killed or seriously injured when I’m walking or riding my bike. And I know I’m not the only one.

We need to fix this. We need to fix the way we talk to each other. We need to fix the way we collaborate. Because when it comes right down to it, there is no “them.” There’s only “us.”

At least that’s how I’m looking at this whole thing.

RevKev

posted by: Joe T. on July 17, 2012  5:35pm

It seems to me that a major factor in whether this intersection is safe or not is not mentioned.  How long will a red light cycle be?  Claiming pedestrians can’t cross five lanes of traffic is unfair.  They certainly shouldn’t be expected to in thirty seconds, but if the light lasts for a minute and a half to two minutes most people would be able to cross.  Additionally, a queue would build up at rush hour protecting any crossing pedestrians from speeding traffic further back. 

The only unfortunate part of this plan is that it depends on enforcement of the no-turn-on-red rule that is so frequently broken in New Haven.  Given that knowledge though, I agree that putting the right turn lane in between the sidewalk and an island would encourage drivers to turn without stopping, they’re separated from the queue and subconsciously believe they have the right of way (You can see what I mean if you drive in the HOV lanes on the LIE).

The traffic lights in this town are God-awful.  Most lights are unsyncronized and most pedestrian crossing times are too short.  However, there are in my opinion some that are done particularly well (mostly in East Rock, Westville, and Downtown surprise, surprise).  The intersection of Church and Elm, for example, is also about 60 feet wide with four lanes of traffic and a wide parking lane and feels far safer due to the long time that traffic from all directions is stopped. 

I appreciate the efforts of our more proactive alderpeople but with so much else wrong with this project I hope that they’ll drop this non-issue and focus on more pertinent concerns.

posted by: Nathan on July 17, 2012  5:46pm

The design is “car centric” because the overwhelming majority of the users of the road will be in motor vehicles, despite the wishes of those with radical views that do not reconcile with reality.  The way to decrease the crossing distance is to decrease the number of lanes, which cannot rationally be done without allowing the existing two lanes to continue to exit at the air rights garage.  Keep those two lanes below grade and you could have three “street level” lanes plus a bike lane.

posted by: Anstress Farwell on July 17, 2012  6:21pm

RevKev is right—the process for public engagement is broken. It is a sad spectacle, at this point in the process, to be fighting again for safety features—features that are necessary to ameliorate the impacts of a profoundly flawed, car-centered design. Removing the pedestrian islands is like absconding with a person’s crutch.

The City is now saying that the budget may require eliminating the street trees from the plan. We can’t afford not to have trees—trees create beauty, reduce traffic speeds, road rage, and pollution, add value to adjacent homes and businesses, longer pavement life, and more. See “The 22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees”
http://www.walkable.org/assets/downloads/22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees.pdf

How are we spending $30 million in public funds and not getting adequate sidewalks, essential safety features, and trees? If we allocate the lion’s share of funds to cars only, design for cars only, we won’t get what we need here, which is an attractive and safe urban place.

If you haven’t signed to Petition on sidewalks, please do. 200 of your neighbors have signed a community petition calling for minimum sidewalk design standards to be applied to the new 100 College Street development in Downtown New Haven:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/petition-for-a-walkable-100-college-street-development.html

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 17, 2012  7:15pm

According to Kevin Nursick and several other DOT staffers, “[pedestrian refuge islands] ‘channelize’ the right hand turn lane, [and] ‘give [drivers] the feeling that they have the right of way. ’ When right-turners are channeled with a traffic island, ‘they tend to blow through those right turns. That’s not a good thing.’”

The $9.2+ Million Grand Avenue Bridge Reconstruction Project of the segment between Olive and State Streets completed in 2009 used pedestrian refuge islands, which created the exact same “channelized” right-turn lanes that ConnDOT now criticizes (http://goo.gl/maps/G59u). 20%, or about $1.85 Million, of that project was funded by the State (http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2009/01/02/news/a3-grandbridge.txt). The only conclusion that a reasonable person can come to having read ConnDOT’s opinion on refuge islands is that ConnDOT is a worthless department in its current form full of incompetents who follow out-of-date design manuals and have no consistent standards. Did the State and Feds waste tax-payers’ money on the overly-traffic engineered Grand Avenue Bridge, or are ConnDOT’s safety objections to the traffic islands on Route 34 baseless? Which one is it?

Has the State formally given ownership of the land along the Route 34 corridor to the city? If so, does that include the Frontage Roads? Can the city change the Functional Classification of North and South Frontage Roads from “Major Arterial” to “Minor Arterial” or “Collector”? Would that allow the city more design flexibility under existing design guidelines to improve pedestrian and cycling accommodations?

The only aspect of this design process that has remained constant has been that the infrastructure that accommodates large numbers of fast moving automobiles has met the minimum standards for Major Arterial Roadway design. Alternatively, adequate pedestrian and cycling infrastructure was essentially ignored until last July when the city released its “Features added post 30% design” document, which was viewed by many as a step in the right direction for the project. Unfortunately, instead of continuing along the line of thinking that was displayed in the July 18, 2011 Document, the plan has mostly reverted back to the earlier design that the city already acknowledged was deficient. In hindsight, it has become clear that the purpose of the July 2011 design revisions were to silence critics long enough to pass key checkpoints for the first phase of Downtown Crossing, rather than to seriously address any of the design concerns of the streets.

posted by: streever on July 17, 2012  7:36pm

Nathan:
It is unfortunate that so much history disagrees with you.

Stepping outside of theory and your own need to operate an automobile, 50% of the people who work in this corridor live within 4 miles, and half of those live less than 2 miles away.

Seville, Spain—Portland, Oregon—New York City—Montreal—Amsterdam—Holland—Paris—Copenhagen—Washington D.C. All of these locations have invested in bike/walk infrastructure, and they have seen enormous gains in transportation by walkers and bikers.

Where you spend tax dollars is where you encourage growth. If we keep encouraging people to drive, you are correct—we’ll have more drivers.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 17, 2012  8:13pm

nfjanette,
If the city planners that put highways through the middle of cities during urban renewal used the same reasoning that you use, which is essentially that we should only design infrastructure to meet current demand, then we wouldn’t have built the Oak Street Connector in the first place. Instead, we would have improved pedestrian access between the Hill, Oak Street and Downtown because walking was the primary transportation mode for people back then. In the 1950s, the old Q Bridge wouldn’t have been designed to carry 90,000 cars per day - it would have been designed to carry about half as many, which was the number that traveled through the area back then. Similarly, the new Q Bridge wouldn’t be designed with 10 travel lanes to meet future projected demand, it would be designed to carry only the current users.
Obviously, it makes no sense to design for current demand, but for projected demand. Conventional wisdom calls for designing only for ever growing numbers of cars, but times are changing.
Recent scholarship suggests that expanding road capacity without including multimodal transit investment, land-use reform and mixed use planning merely induces more road usage, eventually resulting in congestion.
http://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf
Young Americans are driving less and using more transit:
http://www.copirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Transportation & the New Generation vCO_0.pdf

We have to plan for the future. In this case, that means providing adequate infrastructure for multimodal streets where several different transportation options are viable.

posted by: HhE on July 17, 2012  10:23pm

Threefifths, I must have been unclear (which is teacher code), but here we go.

First I sought clarification on your suggestion move moving pavements, would they be part of a side walk, or as a means to get clear of a dangerous pedestrian street crossing.  Apparently you mean the former, which does not address the issue at hand.

Then I asked who would pay for this.  Our city is in hock to its gills, the State has no money, and The Federal government is no better off. 

I then indicated my frustration with this process and outcome.  Pointing out that NYC does not ask its pedestrians to cross so many lanes, and even in China (not exactly known for safety) does a better job at times.

That would be my point.


I have been to Hong Kong twice (once before, and once after the hand over), but I did not go on the Mid Levels Escalator.  Maybe next time.

I think it is important to keep in mind that Hong Kong is very different from New Haven.  They both were once part of the British Empire, have a lot of good architecture, and good Chinese restaurants, but that is about it.  Hong Kong has a very high population density, and far less cars per capita than New Haven.  Hong Kong produces so much wealth that the PRC decided to prery much leave it alone, where as our city is broke.

posted by: Martha Smith on July 17, 2012  10:49pm

In the past few months, as compared to past years, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of bicycles on the streets.  Instead of cars ALWAYS outnumbering bicycles, every once in a while there are equal numbers of bikes and cars on the road.  Bicycles are being used by more people in New Haven.
Despite MANY comments and requests to consider bicycles and pedestrians for this road redesign, why isn’t this a plan that looks to the future instead of the past?

posted by: streever on July 17, 2012  11:31pm

3/5th,
Considering your concerns re: obesity, I am puzzled by your desire to put pedestrians in motorized tunnels underground. Is this really a healthy direction for our society? Have everyone either underground in a tunnel, or in a box made of plastic/metal/glass imported from across the world, running on gasoline that comes from countries we wage war against, or from processed food that uses our arable land and water?

This seems like a more dystopic nightmare to me than even the current plan.

posted by: Bruce on July 18, 2012  8:54am

Nathan, there is nothing “radical” about crossing the street.

I find it hard to believe that there is any debate about this whatsoever.  People need to cross the street and people need to ride bicycles.  The design should make the areas safe for ALL users.  It’s that simple.

posted by: Curious on July 18, 2012  9:11am

So basically we’re keeping the Rte. 34 connector, only now there will be a building in the middle of it that Winstanley gets to have.

That’s what I am getting from this.

posted by: streever on July 18, 2012  9:55am

@Curious
Precisely. The bait and switch has come around, and all the safety promises made to advocates have been either left out of plans submitted to the DOT or stripped away immediately with no disagreement from the Mayor.

Make no mistake: this is the baby of the Mayor, who is not interested in building a safe street for citizens. He wants a big building on the tax rolls, and does not care how it gets done.

Building a safe street that the community will be able to use without dying on is not the easiest possible way: therefore, safety has been sacrificed.

It is done and disseminated through well-intentioned people who let themselves do bad work for what they think are good reasons—“if I stick this out, I can make a difference later.”

The sad reality is that they’ve already made a difference—a bad one. By not working toward the right solution, they’ve compromised before the gates even opened, and now they’ve lost it all. If they had stood up for what was right and not become accomplices in burying the public, they would have actually been able to make a positive change.

posted by: HewNaven on July 18, 2012  10:05am

“We need to fix this. We need to fix the way we talk to each other. We need to fix the way we collaborate. Because when it comes right down to it, there is no “them.” There’s only “us.”

This. The main reason many intelligent people do not participate in civic adventures like this one is the very nature of the process. The mode has always been to seek compromise rather than consensus. That’s a fundamental error in our present mythology. We see ourselves as varied individuals with different needs and goals, rather than the unified (yet dynamic) entity that we actually are.

posted by: Nathan on July 18, 2012  11:10am

Bruce: nice misreading of my comment.  There is indeed nothing radical about crossing the street, which is why I’ve offered a plan that would dramatically improve the safety such crossing by reducing the number of lanes from 5 to 3.5 (bike lane) while also keeping the significant number of motor vehicles that pass by that area off the “local road”. I enjoy walking around the city and very much desire for that experience to be safe.  That’s why, for example, I wait for the proper pedestrian signalling where ever possible, unlike most other folks (especially the medical “professionals” around Yale NH Hospital).

Martha: do we drive in the same town?  The number of cyclists is dwarfed by motor vehicles, despite the impression one might get reading the comments of a small number of advocates that regularly jam the stories on NHI.  I did include the suggestion for a bike lane in my plan, BTW.

Curious: anyone that believes that this project is not primarily designed to enable the construction of that new building is kidding themselves.  The ideas floated by the city and amplified by the new urbanist crowd are secondary considerations that are being piggybacked onto the project with the actual funding.

posted by: Threefifths on July 18, 2012  11:40am

posted by: streever on July 17, 2012 11:31pm

3/5th,
Considering your concerns re: obesity, I am puzzled by your desire to put pedestrians in motorized tunnels underground. Is this really a healthy direction for our society? Have everyone either underground in a tunnel, or in a box made of plastic/metal/glass imported from across the world, running on gasoline that comes from countries we wage war against, or from processed food that uses our arable land and water?

This seems like a more dystopic nightmare to me than even the current plan.

I know you would like this.

Copenhagen Journal

Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/world/europe/in-denmark-pedaling-to-work-on-a-superhighway.html?hp

Bike riding may be good to control obesity.But biking riding also has other problems.I think I want to keep my manhood.

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/cyclingworkouts/a/BikingImpotence.htm

And check out the yale study on women bikers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22390173

posted by: HhE on July 17, 2012 10:23pm

I then indicated my frustration with this process and outcome.  Pointing out that NYC does not ask its pedestrians to cross so many lanes

New York like L A enforce Jay walking Laws.Hong Kong same thing.Also most people in this counrty don’t cross at corners,They cross in the middle of the block and also refuse to push traffic light control when crossing.

posted by: HhE on July 18, 2012  12:16pm

Threefifths, I find your retort to be a complete disconnect.  Do you really propose that we have dangerous pedestrian crossings because of jay walkers? 

How are you able to comment on Hong Kong law enforcement practices and pedestrian culture?  Have you ever been to Hong Kong?

It has been 10 years since I was last there, so I got out the relevant photo album to jog my memory.  What I saw was a very pedestrian friendly infrastructure:  curb bump outs, well marked crossing points, pedestrian bridges, streets closed to vehicles, and very good public transport. 

I find that when you are asked a direct question, you evade with a tangential argument.  When confronted with facts, we are given a YouTube video or suspect web article.  I would admit to not knowing why I bother, except I know it is my distaste for poor argumentation.  Please, step up your game.  It will not only satisfy my gestalt, it will give you more cred with others.

posted by: Anstress Farwell on July 18, 2012  12:47pm

Joe T.- What are you referring to when you say elected officials should focus on more “pertinent concerns” ? Other concerns about this project? Or other city issues?

Getting public walkways and sidewalks built right is the most pertinent issue for this project. Everyone, including people who commute by car, are on city streets at some point. The comfort, utility and pleasure of streets determines value of an urban place. The US DOT standards for “livability” recognize this, and state that walkability and transportation choice are key principles of good planning:

http://www.dot.gov/livability/101.html

posted by: darnell on July 18, 2012  1:56pm

Why are all of you people acting surprised. When I opposed this back in Dec 2010, I made several arguments: 1, we were essentially approving this deal without any real details, no development agreement to review, no real veto power if we didn’t like what we saw; 2, we were basically building a highway to this developer’s new building, giving out of town building employees (my guess is an overwhelming majority) the opportunity to drive into and out of there office with ever seeing New Haven, except from there office windows; 3, there was some wort of myth or false hope that this project would “knit” the city together.

All of this was easy to see, all you had to do is look at the maps of the predicted roadway changes. I called it corporate welfare at its worse, since city residents, particularly the folks in my ward, would have to foot the bill and would probably never see a job in that building, or even on the construction of the road.

Mr. Streever and Alds Elicker and Perez were the plans’ biggest cheerleaders.

One of the biggest selling points made for this project were the predicted tax returns. I predict with 95% confidence that by the time this project is done, this developer will have an agreement in place where he will pay greatly reduced taxes, or no taxes at all for the first 10 to 20 yrs.

God, I wish we could sell our house, or at least turn it into a development project funded by the city.

posted by: streever on July 18, 2012  2:08pm

3/5th
The article clearly states that any problems can be ameliorated with correct handlebar/saddle placement/bike fit. I guess that means you shared just in case I needed to know? Thank you, I appreciate the gesture.

posted by: streever on July 18, 2012  2:39pm

@Darnell
I apologize. I had faith in the essential goodness of some key department heads who had spoken to me one-on-one—outside of “business”—and made promises and assurances that they would do the right thing.

You are right—despite the efforts of city hall to portray me as some nut-brained critic who doesn’t think, they once propped me up as proof that this plan had popular and public support.

Unfortunately, the assurances and promises they made were worth less than nothing, have been stripped out of the plan, and they have completely reneged on everything discussed, while acting surprised that I and others are upset.

You were right, and I’m sorry I had more faith in the department heads/civic leaders that asked for support. I really believed in them, and thought they were doing the right things.

I’ve said many times that this project has completely undermined my faith in our city government—a misplaced faith to begin with—and left me feeling alienated from the concept of New Haven as a community. Your comment serves as a testament to the goodwill that I extended to the city before being burned.

I hope you accept my apology—you were correct.

posted by: anonymous on July 18, 2012  3:09pm

Darnell: “Alds Perez was the plans’ biggest cheerleader.”

Did the Independent try to interview our Board President Perez for this piece? 

The fact that he and the other Board of Aldermen Leaders are not speaking up about this now, even though Perez is now Board President, appears to speak volumes about their inability to represent the best interests of the city. 

Why is it up to our State Representative to represent the interests of the people who live here who are not politically connected (i.e. bought off) to huge banks and developers?

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 18, 2012  3:13pm

Maintaining the below-grade highway would have required the construction of platforms in order to make the land buildable, which is extremely expensive. Additionally, parking would have to be above ground. The entrance and exit ramps would also make it difficult to build over the highway. Although the entrance and exit ramps could be redesigned to integrate better into the surface roads (http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/189514_1648520127969_8179897_n.jpg), it would be extremely expensive to do so.

The city’s original plan for Route 34 called for the creation of urban boulevards at the surface level with bike lanes, on-street parking and 2-3 travel lanes along with subterranean service roads below grade to access underground parking. The issue with this plan is that in concentrates all traffic - local and regional - onto surface streets. However, it hides the parking below grade to free up the development blocks to include courtyards, plazas, and pleasant sidewalks flanked by active program. Furthermore, the concentrated traffic could have been mitigated with additional cross streets at Orange and Temple, along with transit investment. This could all be done with traditional foundations - no need for a platform.

The current plan by Winstanley takes the disadvantages of both plans outlined above and combines them. Not only is the highway being moved up to the surface roads, but the parking is also being put above ground.

posted by: 1483mmm on July 18, 2012  5:45pm

I agree with RevKev and Farwell that the process for community dialogue and engagement is VERY broken.  This project is designed for commuters that don’t live here, first and foremost, with some mild consideration for residents that live here.

I am STILL not convinced after public meetings, drawings and conversations with city officials that this project will:  1) slow down more cars traveling to our area; 2) eliminate traffic because the additional cars will now travel to their own special parking garage; 3) decrease car emissions and make our lousy air quality better (important to note that when this concern is raised in meetings and with officials, no one has a response or counter argument); 4) connect neighborhoods (this is referenced in written materials, however, meetings with City officials indicate neighborhoods being connected in the next phase of the project); and 5) encourage more residents to walk from area neighborhoods to downtown New Haven.  Yes five lanes of traffic is TOO MUCH!

The City needs “community” to attend public meetings so they can comply with their grants and this is what the community gets in return.  I do hope that all of the construction jobs created by this project are 100% filled by NEW HAVEN residents.

So now what?  I have been told that in Phase 2, the public will have an opportunity to express their concerns for what they want and need and these comments will help shape and inform the next project.

And if you believe this, I have a soon-to-be elevated bridge that I can sell you for real cheap!

posted by: Stephen Harris on July 18, 2012  6:16pm

Until we get a Mayor or a majority of Alders who understand the value - and by value I don’t mean some vague feel-good aesthetic or style, but rather dollars and cents value - of good urban design we’ll keep getting the same tired off-the-shelf developments.

A previous poster spoke well by mentioning that DoT has a different starting point in terms of design; they see the world largely through the windshield of the automobile. That “starting point” is the root problem of every traffic manual and zoning regulation in the state. And it is also a mindset that seems to be firmly cemented in most, but certainly not all, urban planners I’ve run across.

I joined the planning profession after living in, and traveling about, Europe for a number of years. I was impressed with the quality urban environments I experienced as opposed to the dreary car-scape/strip-mall way of life we have over here, and wanted to do what I could to change things here (sound of head hitting brick wall).

I’m truly perplexed as to why most politicians and planners, who have access to all kinds of good information and resources at their fingertips, continue to perpetuate the same old-same old - even though most of them know better. There is some sort of dissonance going on that I can’t figure out.

Since everything ultimately happens inside the political ring, the only answer I can come up with is to elect politicians who understand why good urban design is beneficial.

posted by: Stephen Harris on July 18, 2012  7:16pm

One more thing concerning any future development. Don’t be surprised if everything isn’t an LDA. I really don’t know why Winstanley’s building wasn’t a PDD since it’s already that in everything but name.

Given the way this administration seems to operate I don’t think the they want to lose control over anything, especially since the new BD-3 permits a subdivision of single-family homes by right - in the middle of downtown!

RH-2 uses are permitted by right in the BD-3 and one of those uses is single-family dwellings (read the code).

I understand, more than most, how complex and interwoven New Haven’s zoning is (Indra’s Net comes to mind), but that’s something that should have been eliminated by someone.

posted by: JuliS on July 18, 2012  10:53pm

i had a hard time seeing the words on the screen, with all the wool being pulled over my eyes.

posted by: Joe T. on July 19, 2012  12:30am

@Anstress Farwell

I’m sorry for not being clear in my previous statement.  When I referred to “more pertinent concerns” I was referring to this apparent boondoggle of a public works project. 

I agree that the disappearance of this island is a blow to safe street advocates, although I still maintain that channelizing the right lane is a bad idea (I hate crossing at Grand and State for the same reason - cars don’t stop in the dedicated turn lane).  However, this is more of an enforcement issue and with proper traffic enforcement this would be a much smaller problem. 

My point was that I would hope that we would not hyper-focus on this one single flaw in the plan when there are so many others.  To me it’s like complaining about the heat while the building burns down around you.  This island disappearance is a symptom of a much larger problem - it seems clear that The Powers That Be are going to push this project through and pay only lip service to the concerns of the non-motorists who actually use the intersection. 

My point is that if this island that was agreed to can disappear without so much as a heads up to the community then what else is happening behind closed doors that we don’t know about?  This project is going to be completed by the bureaucrats and I predict that without without a level of oversight that seems impossible in New Haven or at ConnDOT little by little it is going to change into something that is not very well-liked by anyone except those who work in it or drive past it. 

One missing island is a symptom of a much larger problem and I suggest that instead of fighting the symptom we fight the disease ... just wish I knew how to do that!

posted by: Wooster Squared on July 19, 2012  8:33am

Darnell,

I’d like to apologize as well. You were absolutely right. This project is a total boondoggle. We’re spending millions of dollars in borrowed money to build a private driveway for a wealthy developer.

posted by: Curious on July 19, 2012  10:00am

So what do Local 34 and Local 35 think about this issue?  They both have significant populations of workers over on the medical campus, and who drive in to New Haven…this affects them directly and profoundly.

Why are the unions silent on this?  It directly affects union members, much more so than the jobs pipeline.

posted by: PauletteCohen on July 19, 2012  2:34pm

It is interesting to read the Connecticut Department of Traffic Spokesperson, and others, talking about five lanes of traffic on MLK Boulevard, and the City Spokesperson referring to MLK Boulevard as an “arterial” road—and basically using this road configuration as a reason why better accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists can’t be provided. 

The Urban Design League got a lot of grief from the City for calling the plans for MLK Boulevard and South Frontage Road “Arterial Roads of up to five lanes” in our review of the City’s Downtown Crossing proposal.  We felt it was an important issue to raise because the City was claiming, both to the general public and the Federal Government, that an important benefit of the project was that it would replace the highway with Urban Boulevards.  We pointed out that in reality the project displaced the traffic onto Arterial Roads that had little in common with Urban Boulevards, and that the highway structure would remain intact as a dedicated driveway to garages and loading docks.  Which is exactly where we are now.

posted by: streever on July 19, 2012  3:01pm

@PauletteCohen
Kudos to you for politely describing the endless spin that the Mayor’s appointees are capable of. I was feeling too dizzy to even note how many loops they’ve done.

posted by: HhE on July 20, 2012  1:56am

Joe T. thank you for the clarification.  I miss took your meaning in your original post. 

Props to streever for admitting he was played.  Join the club.  When I first saw the plans for this project at a Downtown/Wooster Square CMT meeting, I thought it was a good idea. 

I was going to go to tonight’s meeting, but I could not be bothered.  I am just too frustrated.  So I guess our Mayor is brilliant.  Wear people down enough, lie enough, and dismiss enough, and one can build whatever one wants. 

In the meantime, we did not just lose the islands and bump-outs Look at the generous radius of the curves.  The apex these provide drivers will allow for fast turns.

posted by: Wooster Squared on July 20, 2012  10:05am

HhE,

You nailed in your last comment. We all got played by a skilled politician. Through their actions, the Mayor and his administration have made it clear that they do not see the public as stakeholders or customers here, but instead an obstacle that needs to be pushed out of the way.

This project, which appeared to be a good idea at first, is a complete boondoggle at this point. It has strayed so far from the original vision that it can no longer be considered a meaningful improvement to the City.

Why is taxpayer money being used to enrich an already wealthy developer?

Why are we taking on millions of dollars of dollars in debt to do this?

Why are we widening the roads to push more cars through the Hill neighborhood, which already has an asthma rate that’s several times the national average? And how did this fact not get brought up in the environmental review?

posted by: streever on July 20, 2012  10:11am

Hhe
What can we do? The lies are out of control, the press doesn’t cover them as such, and no one is holding the Mayor accountable. This is his project, but he has abdicated blame by putting this on his appointees, people directly beholden to him, who can be fired without cause.

If the Mayor wanted to build a pedestrian friendly road, he would. He doesn’t want to—he has no interest in it—and he had his appointees play community groups.

The first mistake we all made was to think we could work with the Mayor. People were worried that we’d lose the ability to do good work if we didn’t ally with his administration. Clearly, we lost, despite following that strategy.

In perfect hindsight, all of us (advocates) should have remained combative, and not gotten so close to the Mayor’s appointees. They told us that we needed to work with them, that in that friendly relationship we would have a big voice in making a better project.

Unfortunately, none of it was true. The Mayor and his administration needs to be open to the community, even when the community is argumentative. Let us serve as a cautionary lesson to others.

Sadly, our loss is the loss of everyone. This project will go through, and it will increase traffic deaths, asthma rates, and health issues, while further sealing off the most impoverished residents of our city from downtown.

Our strategy seemed so good. Work with caring people inside the city. Get officials elected who supported our mission. Present a positive image of the project in the press, so that people in the city would see us as being a part of this, and that level of involvement would make the Mayor work with us.

It didn’t work. Goldson is right—we were naive, we were too trusting, and we dropped the ball on the worst construction project in New Haven in 60 years.

posted by: streever on July 20, 2012  10:24am

@RevKev
I agree with you, but I place the burden of responsibility for that on the people in power.

You are right—“the public” always ends up mad at “the city”. Why?

Because “the city” has all the power and makes decisions which aren’t in the best interest of “the public”.

That makes no sense whatsoever. Aren’t “the public” also “the city”? Yes, except in this case, we are using “the city” as a euphemism for “the Mayor”. Was it good for New Haven when he signed lucrative pensions in exchange for support in a governor run? No. “The City” as separate from “the people” means “The Mayor”.

This is the issue, and the one we dance around, and the one that often gets censored in this and other publications. The Mayor gets what he wants, and everyone else is mad.

The Mayor’s appointees are mad, because he tells them to hold public meetings knowing that he will only go with the public meeting if it mirrors his own thinking. The public is mad because they get their time wasted at a meeting or worse a series of meetings.

Who is happy? Hopefully—for him—the Mayor, because he gets his way, and he pits everyone else against each other.

posted by: HhE on July 20, 2012  11:14am

Streever, their is only one solution, and it will take at least a year in change, if not more—we need to elect a new Mayor who will reinvent how city hall works.

posted by: kgalo on July 20, 2012  11:41am

I care enough about this that I registered to comment.

If there’s anything that can be done to turn this around and create an environment that’s safe for children, elderly, healthy-people, cyclists, etc I want to help.

New Haven has so much potential to be a 21st century city—why allow this to happen when it seems doomed to recreate all the mistakes made in the 1950s? Please, City of New Haven—we can and should do better!

There’s got to be something that can be changed before it is too late. A sit-in? Protest? Public meeting? I know these things have happened already, but that was before the plan was altered. It seems there’s enough concern to revisit the issue.

posted by: Wooster Sq resident on July 20, 2012  12:24pm

Sadly, a pedestrian has ready been killed at this intersection.

The traffic laws in New Haven MUST be enforced.  Progress has been made, but we are not there yet.

No design should be for the maximum use for the minimum time, i.e. rush hour.  Why can’t we come up with mobility alternatives?  The residents of New Haven pay high taxes to live in a very desirable city. Let’s make all our moves in the direction of making it an even more desirable place to live.

The roads should be city streets not major arterials. The development is good for New Haven.  Continuing to have highways at street level in New Haven is not.

Again, enforcing the motor vehicle laws should be a top priority.

posted by: S Brown on July 20, 2012  2:06pm

“The city, with the cooperation of ConnDOT has pushed the limits of transportation engineering practices”

This is laughably false. ConnDOT is in the stone age. Pushing the limits for them means not designing it for horse and buggy.

posted by: darnell on July 20, 2012  2:10pm

No need to apologize, even though my feelings were hurt…lol

Seriously though, just last weekend I tried to cross Derby and Ella Grasso Blvd with my 10 yr old daughter, it was by far one of the scariest street crossing experiences in a while. Not only were drivers turning against the walk signal, but the signal was so short that we found ourselves both dodging cars and sprinting for our lives. No exaggeration.

I can’t imagine what this new highway will be like for walkers and bikers.

If you guys are serious about making changes to this proposal, then do something about it. Don’t worry about whether or not folks will like you, or how you will be interpreted or talked about. Do the right thing. Organize your folks on that road and stop traffic during rush hour for a couple of days. Organize a petition and letter writing campaign to the Governor. Make some noise and become a little unpopular.

posted by: Threefifths on July 20, 2012  5:03pm

posted by: HhE on July 20, 2012 11:14am

Streever, their is only one solution, and it will take at least a year in change, if not more—we need to elect a new Mayor who will reinvent how city hall works.

And the other solution is Charter Revision is comming.Put in Term Limits and Proportional Representation which will give you mre voices and power at the table.

posted by: HhE on July 20, 2012  10:56pm

Threefifths:

I said we need a new mayor who will act very differently from the current one, and not just another mayor.  Your proposal gets us the different mayor, but not necessarily the different way of governing.  Proportional representation in New Haven gets us a BoA is still has the same Democratic composition.  If a token Green or GOP BoA member was going to completely change our city, then Aldermen Justin Elicker and Douglas Hausladen would have turned this nightmare around already.  Pancrea answers for systemic problems. 

In the meantime, your Middle Level Escalators cost $30 million US to build, and is 3 over budget.  While it has set a world record, it has not reduced traffic congestion.

posted by: Threefifths on July 21, 2012  9:36pm

posted by: HhE on July 20, 2012 10:56pm

Threefifths:


I said we need a new mayor who will act very differently from the current one, and not just another mayor.  Your proposal gets us the different mayor, but not necessarily the different way of governing

But however, by changing to Term Limits, we can minimize the harm they do and lengthen the period of time it takes them do it.


Proportional representation in New Haven gets us a BoA is still has the same Democratic composition.  If a token Green or GOP BoA member was going to completely change our city, then Aldermen Justin Elicker and Douglas Hausladen would have turned this nightmare around already.  Pancrea answers for systemic problems.

Again not true.In fact Proportional Representation would force politicians from different parties to learn to work together long-term Because of the unlikelihood of any single party getting more than 50% of the seats on its own, countries that use proportional voting systems are forced to form majority coalition governments in which the parties have to learn how to put aside their differences and work together in a stable, long-term.Notice 50% of the seats. Proportional Representation is based on precentage not winner take all. Proportional representation voting systems work differently, by giving a party that gets 33% of the votes exactly 33% of the seats. The result is just what the voters asked for, rather than one or two party system..Look at New Haven BOA not one Republican party or Independent Party members.Is this fair no. Proportional Representation would take care of this problem.

posted by: HhE on July 22, 2012  6:47pm

Threefifths,

Term limits would block generational candidates such as our mayor, but that is about all.  It would not prevent “heir apparent” nor “kingmakers.”  It would impose a cost of a learning curve.  Recall the numerous objections to Jerry Kerakes due to his inexperience?  I am not automatically opposed to term limits – I do object to a limit of two, two year terms – but I am not so naive to believe that it is a solve all.

On proportional representation:  There are 30 BoA seats.  There are 60153 registered voters.  So in effect, each seat would “cost” 2005 votes.

There are 41,851 registered Democrats.  So they could reasonable expect 20 seats, or a super majority.  The 2371 Republicans could expect one GOP seat.  The Greens would not be able to get even one, unless unaffiliated voters such as my self supported their candidate. 

I know what proportional representation is.  I also know that it does not work in single party systems.

posted by: Threefifths on July 23, 2012  10:12am

posted by: HhE on July 22, 2012 6:47pm

Threefifths,

Term limits would block generational candidates such as our mayor, but that is about all.  It would not prevent “heir apparent” nor “kingmakers.”  It would impose a cost of a learning curve.  Recall the numerous objections to Jerry Kerakes due to his inexperience?  I am not automatically opposed to term limits – I do object to a limit of two, two year terms – but I am not so naive to believe that it is a solve all

Allow voter Referendums.I bet the major of voters will vote for Term Limits.Again let the electorate decide on the issue and be given the opportunity to do.I know it would pass.

On proportional representation:  There are 30 BoA seats.  There are 60153 registered voters.  So in effect, each seat would “cost” 2005 votes.

There are 41,851 registered Democrats.  So they could reasonable expect 20 seats, or a super majority.  The 2371 Republicans could expect one GOP seat.  The Greens would not be able to get even one, unless unaffiliated voters such as my self supported their candidate.

And under proportional representation those 41,851 registered Democrats would have more of a choice and voters are more likely to find a party that does represent their major political convictions than would be possible in a two-party system.

I know what proportional representation is.  I also know that it does not work in single party systems.

Under proportional representation an increased number of represented parties a majority for a single party becomes less probable.Last proportional representation has many systems.Not just one.So which one are you talking about.

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