Fair Haven To Traffic Calmers: Not So Fast!

Allan Appel PhotoFair Haveners heard some “new urbanist” ideas for slowing down traffic, and suggested the planners should slow down, instead.

They showed interest but also wary skepticism at a roll-out of a draft plan called tje Fair Haven Mobility Study.

Deputy Director of Traffic and Parking Michael Pinto brought the initial recommendations to a gathering of 25 at the regular meeting of the Fair Haven Management Team at the Blatchley Avenue substation this past Thursday night.

Funded by a $60,000 grant from the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCROGG), the study addressed how local streets in two non-downtown areas of the city — Newhallville/Dixwell and Fair Haven — might be calmed through conversion to two-way and the addition of traffic-calming measures to make them safer, slower, and “friendlier” for cyclists and pedestrians.

The centerpiece of the Fair Haven recommendations:the conversion of Pine, Exchange, and parts of Peck and other streets to two-way. Two-ways are slower and safer, said David Sousa, a senior planner and landscape architect with CDM Smith, the East Hartford based firm whom the city hired to do the study.

The year-long study also calls for creation of “slow streets” that do not alter direction but rather discourage cut-through traffic, reduce speeds, green the streets and render them safer for bicycling and walking.

A third recommendation was to further calm some of those “slow streets” so they become “neighborhood greenways,” thoroughfares designed so cars would move no faster than bicycles.

“If you turn one-way into two-way, people without driveways, still need to park,” objected Fair Haven Alder Ernie Santiago.

He then pointed to one of the maps full of yellow-marked streets, such as Fillmore, which he interpreted as indicating a recommendation for conversion.

“Fillmore, Poplar, Clay,” he said, pointing to them on the map, with alarm.

Sousa reminded him that only the large, orange-marked streets on the provided map were to be slowed through conversion; the many narrow-one ways were marked with ovals or diamonds, indicators of recommended traffic calming measures—such as bump-outs at the corners or neck-downs, which narrow and thereby slow passage.

“We’re not proposing to change [lose] any parking” capacity in Fair Haven, Sousa responded.

Sousa reminded his listeners that the draft study consists of recommendations and community response for the purpose of further refinement.

Santiago remained wary, and he was not alone.

Longtime Fair Haven activist Fran Goekler-Morneau said that while she approves of the study’s thrust and of the “growing, wonderful excitement about” a coming bike-share program , “I think in some ways it’s unfair to the residents who want to use the city.”

“If I’m in upper Westville in order to get home [to Fair Haven], it now takes me forever,” she said.

Coming to defense of the study, Pinto replied: “If you move through the city at a slightly slower pace, you’ll get where you’re going quicker. If you race through Whalley at 40, you’ll hit every light.”

“Calming is not the [sole] answer,” said Goekler-Morneau.

Several members of the audience, such as activist Kenneth Reveiz, who lives on Grafton Street, expressed concern that residents of the streets being discussed had not been sufficiently consulted.

Referencing a “combative” atmosphere in the room, Reveiz said that the “economic analysis is morally tricky,” meaning that if the plan were adopted and became successful, gentrification might follow. “I feel it could push people of color out.”

“The objective is to save lives. That benefits everyone,” Sousa replied.

Tactical Urbanism?

Then there was the question of cost. Alder Santiago, keenly aware of the tightness of city budgets, asked who will pay for these measures.

“This is where tactical urbanism comes in,” Pinto replied. You can use planters, hay bales, paint.”

“The idea is how can you slow streets down without investing in a lot of granite,” said Fair Haven activist Lee Cruz.

“Instead of spending $100,000, let’s [for example] start with people putting up planters, and the city putting up sticks, and then as money comes in, we’ll know” what works and deserves more investment.

Santiago remained skeptical: “It sounds good, but they have to talk to the people affected. I don’t believe they’re [that is, the streets recommended for conversion] wide enough to be converted without losing parking, although I could be wrong. I’m going to talk to the people in my ward.”

Pinto and the consultants distributed sheets soliciting listeners’ responses. They promised to come back at a future meeting of the management team with more refined plans reflecting the public suggestions.

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posted by: kmnh on February 6, 2017  1:30pm

A similar presentation by these consultants was poorly-received at a recent Newhalville Management Team as well. In light of this, perhaps they should review their communication plan and presentation style.

posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on February 6, 2017  1:36pm

Trying to get around in New Haven is challenging enough as it is, I’ve never once though “I wish these streets were even slower”. They are not shady lanes through the woods, bike paths, or private cul-de-sacs, these are city streets. Streets are for driving on. “Calming measures” also all seem to mess up snow plows. Narrowing roads, that will then get even narrower with snow, and then making them two way… what could go wrong?  Rather than making our streets into an obstacle course, how about people try looking both ways before crossing the street?

posted by: Nhlocal on February 6, 2017  1:48pm

How can you take this company serious when they have a presentation with at least 2 oneways going the wrong way on their map (Exchange and Woolsey go the other direction).  Obviously they didn’t do a lot of research for this proposal.  All these cutouts or bump outs do is make it harder for emergency responders. Waste of more money.

posted by: robn on February 6, 2017  1:52pm

This city is unneccesarily litterred with one way streets that unfairly push traffic from that street onto others and make travel unnccesarily long for both cyclists and cars. Get rid of all one-ways streets until anyone can come up with a rational reason for doing otherwise.

Regarding the quote, “if the plan were adopted and became successful, gentrification might follow. “I feel it could push people of color out.””...Really?... Be unsuccessful so people of color can continue to live in dilapidated neighborhoods? Did that really come out of someones mouth?

posted by: Mister Jones on February 6, 2017  2:20pm

The Westville experience makes me wonder if “traffic calming” is a euphemism for “more traffic jams.”

posted by: skyrocket27 on February 6, 2017  2:23pm

This article incorrectly states that CDM Smith is an East Hartford based firm.  CDM Smith is a multinational conglomerate that is based/headquartered in Boston.  I would hope that the article would be corrected to reflect this fact.


posted by: Realmom21 on February 6, 2017  2:29pm

I am not trying to be abrupt but lets take a pause for a moment. This is not NEW YORK or Boston. Yes some people ride bikes to work but most dont and the notion that we are going to convert more people to ride bikes by making it more road friendly is some what amusing . Our children dont ride bikes to school because we dont offer comparable quality education in each neighborhood so kids are bused not form one side of the city to the other but even across town lines.We not longer live in a time when people work mon thru fri 9-5 with holidays and weekends off. The VAST majority of those riding bikes ride because they can afford cars. It appears that while many on these boards want the benefits of living in a city this why they choose New Haven over Hamden North haven Milford but they want the nuances of suburban life .. Reality CITIES have traffic and cities have cars especially ones that don’t have subway systems. It has come to the point where New Haven seems like it is DESPERATELY trying to become a suburban town . You act as thought you want to discourage everyone from not only driving in the city but to the city. We have opted to do as little as possible in the city between bulk garage parking and bicyclist trying to assume ownership of the road .it is a burden and hassle. The irony is we have so many issues on the back burner due to lack of funding yet we are continuously finding those resources needed to put sticks and flowers and flower lots and painting lanes. People who live in Fair Haven, people who live in New Hall I have lived in BOTH are not stressing traffic its more like those who choose to pass thru

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 6, 2017  2:46pm

Nhlocal, traffic calming measures are reviewed by NHPD and NHFD, specifically to address your concern. Converting one-way to two- way actually makes routine police patrolling easier.

OTRTTH, extensive traffic calming in Manhattan actually decreased travel times for drivers.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 6, 2017  2:57pm

Converting one- way streets also addresses a (legitimate) complaint raised by 3/5ths and others of cyclists going the wrong way.

Such conversions also produce a modest improvement in air quality since drivers are able to take shorter routes. This is particularly relevant in neighborhoods like Fair Haven, which have mediocre air quality and high asthma rates.

posted by: robn on February 6, 2017  3:05pm


On the same subject, not too long ago in the article linked below, the otherwise astute Officer David Hartman said that, “I don’t think it’s much to ask a cyclist to [ride] around one more block.”

The problem with this thinking is that when you add up all of the “one more” blocks that cyclists have to contend with, you can double or triple the time it takes to get around town. Its patently unfair to both cyclists and drivers and their frustration is clearly one of the main causes of speeding cars and contraflow bikes.


posted by: southwest on February 6, 2017  3:58pm

Where are they getting these bright ideals that they are calming traffic..they are full of it especially when you got predestrains and bicyclists try to compete with 800 lbs cars and tractors trailers ...in any event they lose every time..that Long Wharf food truck site is just a fatal and serious injuries site waiting to happen…you have traitor trailers trucks parked so close to the traffic lines it’s almost impossible for two cars to drive thur..I watched one day as two tractors trucks almost collided with one another..it is too congest for traffic to flow because that’s a main Thur way plus it’s very sencey and should be used for that purpose…not trash flying all,over the place going into the sound…the parking spaces are designed to closely to the main traffic lanes it’s a cluster over there..just take a camera and record the havoc over there it’s a distaster waiting to happen…

posted by: Nhlocal on February 6, 2017  4:16pm

Kevin McCarthy then I would like to see who was consulted and why you are so sure that this was completed.  I am sure cutouts and bumpouts do not make street access easier for all emergency response.

posted by: HewNaven on February 6, 2017  6:25pm

I’d like to know why nobody down at city hall is working on making it easier for me to drive fast in New Haven. Roads are for cars and cars are for driving fast.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 6, 2017  11:27pm

NHlocal, as the story notes, this is a draft plan. Many of the proposals will be modified or dropped. It makes sense for the affected departments review the plan when it is closer to being final.