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Now On To Temple & Orange

by Staff | Dec 3, 2012 10:28 am

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

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development

With work set to begin reconnecting College Street, the city just picked up another $2.2 million to do the same down the block.

The $2.2 million will go toward designing the next phases of Downtown Crossing, the step-by-step filling in of the Route 34 Connector “Highway to Nowhere” and reconnecting downtown with streets at the gateway to the Hill neighborhood.

The first phase of Downtown Crossing has already been designed and approved: The filling in of the Route 34 Connector’s last exit and the construction of an 11-story medical-oriented office building atop it. Physical work on that phase is set to begin in February.

The new $2.2 million should cover the architectural work needed to design how to reconfigure Temple Street as well as Orange Street as they, too, connect with the streets on the other side of Route 34, according to city development chief Kelly Murphy.

Temple Street, with its curving off at Route 34, and lower Orange Street, with “all those grade changes,” present a bit more of a design challenge than did the more straightforward connecting of College Street, Murphy said.

The money comes from the state Department of Transportation. It originated from a fund at the federal Department of Transportation, from money that had originally been set aside for projects in other states that ended up not being “shovel-ready,” Murphy said.

Mayor John DeStefano and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro announced the awarding of the $2.2 million to the city last week.

“These monies will continue to set the stage for one of the largest downtown development project in city history,” DeStefano stated in a release. “For half a century, the highway divided the City and served as a reminder of the homes and businesses that were lost. No more. This February, work will begin to remove the highway and restore the street grid, employing thousands of people and propelling our local economy for decades to come. What was once a symbol of lost opportunity will again become a thriving part of our community.”

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posted by: anonymous on December 3, 2012  10:45am

The design work on Temple Street won’t hurt, but the simple truth is that the city can’t grow jobs here without a better bus and transit system. 

The Feds and State realized this, and had lined up to give hundreds of millions of dollars to New Haven, as they have in the past to many other mid-sized cities.

Despite near unanimous citizen testimony in favor and the fact that the City had already spent time applying for the grant, unfortunately the new Board of Aldermen/CCNE/Local 34 “Leadership” voted the money down this year because they wanted to redirect the few thousand dollars in matching funds to their “job pipeline” for CCNE union staff. 

Ironically, the few thousand dollars they saved could have ended up directly creating thousands of good union jobs for local residents, whereas the “job pipeline” will have virtually zero impact.

This was done suddenly and behind closed doors, just like all the other decisions that the Board/CCNE/Local 34 are making.

The best opportunity in the history of New Haven to move forward with economic development, access for the disabled and senior citizens, lower costs for struggling families, and the inclusion of neighborhoods like Dixwell and Farnam Courts into the fabric of Downtown was lost because our “Leadership” was able to lead only for the unions, not the city as a whole. 

The good news is that these things can change (if DC and Hartford are willing to forgive the Board of Aldermen, or if new leaders are elected).

posted by: FromTheHill on December 3, 2012  11:00am

Being a life long resident of the Hill I find this project to be the most exciting thing that I have ever seen happen to my neighborhood.  I remember my grandparents telling me stories of how lively the Avenues were stretching all the way downtown before the highway cut us off.

posted by: Yaakov on December 3, 2012  11:12am

How far down 34 is this redevelopment ultimately expected to extend, and is there any sort of a (long-term) time frame for it?

posted by: streever on December 3, 2012  12:08pm

“These monies will continue to set the stage for one of the largest downtown development project in city history,” DeStefano stated in a release. “For half a century, the highway divided the City and served as a reminder of the homes and businesses that were lost. No more. This February, work will begin to remove the highway and restore the street grid, employing thousands of people and propelling our local economy for decades to come. What was once a symbol of lost opportunity will again become a thriving part of our community.”

I would like to point out that when he says “No more”, he completely skips the lack of residential units in the new plans, which is one of the largest failings. He also fails to mention that there will be sections:
1. Which are wider than current, a contradiction of “removing” a highway
2. With no sidewalks. How in the world can you tell me you’re restoring a street grid if you have no sidewalks on a block?
3. With faster design speeds than currently projected—how on earth can you tell me you’re removing a highway if you increase design speeds to get more cars from a to b quicker at the expense of safety?

posted by: streever on December 3, 2012  7:54pm

@FromTheHill

I haven’t seen a plan that reconnects your neighborhood with downtown. I see wider, faster streets, including an increase in design speeds in several areas, and large parking garages being added.

The maps/memories you hear about are about a neighborhood of mixed use buildings: homes, stores, and mass transit. That isn’t what is being built here, and I’m sorry someone presented it so radically different from what is really happening.

posted by: anonymous on December 4, 2012  9:59am

Streever is correct. This disaster (writing in the Courant, former Milwaukee Mayor called it the worst Federal project since the Alaska “bridge to nowhere”) was sold as a project to reconnect neighborhoods and benefit residents.  In reality, it will do precisely the opposite.

The main beneficiaries will be the developers (i.e. Yale) who will profit from the vast sums of public money used to subsidize their valuable new asset, the banks who will profit off of the public bond debt payments, and the politicians who have used this project to buy a lot of votes.

As the Urban Design League report explained, hundreds of local and international architects came together over the past couple of years to propose a variety of great alternatives that actually would reconnect the city.  Citizens came out in droves to support those ideas.  Unfortunately, due to the greed of the Mayor, Board of Aldermen “Leadership”, and other politicians who refused to stand up to the developers (Yale) and banks, these plans were ignored.

Once citizens realized this, most of them lost interest in the project, unless they are indirectly on the City/DeLauro payroll.

This latter development is unfortunate, because there is still time to correct it if we can find some visionary leaders who are willing to stand up for the people who live here.

posted by: abg22 on December 4, 2012  1:44pm

Where exactly did this money come from? Unused funds sloshing around DOT?  Definitely wasn’t an earmark.

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