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Still Waiting for Quinnipiac Avenue Repairs

by Melinda Tuhus | Sep 10, 2008 10:57 am

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

Posted to: Quinnipiac River Village

carolyn%20christmann.jpg “This is an emergency situation,” Carolyn Christmann (pictured) told an assembled group of politicians about the dangerous condition of her street. She and her neighbors said it’s being treated as anything but an emergency.

More than two dozen neighbors met as the Q River Group at the Waucoma Yacht Club to express their frustration and sometimes anger at the decade-long wait to get their main thoroughfare, Quinnipiac Avenue, redesigned to increase safety.

(Click here to read a previous in-depth story about the problems there.)

City transportation czar Mike Piscitelli opened the meeting by giving a status report on a number of projects, including Q Avenue. He said it’s “in the queue” to go out for bid in August 2009, providing the $5.65 million funding is in place.

chris%20at%20q%20ave%20meeting.jpgBut funding is not assured, so neighborhood activist (and Quinnipiac Avenue resident) Chris Ozyck (pictured) asked a few tough questions.

“I’ve been following this for a decade, ever since it’s been on COG’s radar,” he said. he was referring to the South Central Connecticut Regional Council of Governments, made up of the region’s mayors and first selectmen, who must prioritize construction projects throughout the 15 member towns. (Click here for a recent story about New Haven transportation projects.)

“I spoke to [city engineer] Dick Miller,” Ozyck continued, “and he said there’s not enough money to do this next year.” The project can’t be started until all the funding is in place. Ozyck said the cost to the state Department of Transportation of taking the 100 rights-of-way from property abutters required for the project has escalated. “When you go to people with an open checkbook and say, ‘We want to fix your property. How much can we pay you to do it?’ that is creating part of this problem, but it’s also putting in jeopardy this whole project. What is your perspective on that?

“We’ve been working on this for ten years,” he concluded. “I want to make sure that somehow, this problem is solved, and that there’s a timeline, and a firm commitment.”

Before leaving the meeting, Piscitelli couldn’t provide all the answers people wanted. But he repeatedly invited them to attend a meeting on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Pilgrim Church when Mayor John DeStefano will discuss plans for Quinnipiac Avenue and the Grand Avenue bridge.

marty%20at%20q%20ave.%20meeting.jpgState Sen. Martin Looney (pictured) sympathized with the audience, but he pointed out one factor that may be delaying this project as well as others.

DOT has, in effect, been hollowed out from within, and is in many ways not capable of doing the missions assigned to it, because it is down over a thousand engineers from what its peak strength was, when it had 4,300 employees.” Looney said much of the shrinking of the department was due to former Gov. John Rowland’s move to privatize many of the jobs in state government.

jerry%20and%20lou.jpgLou Mangini (pictured), who handles transportation issues in Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s New Haven office, pointed to another funding problem. He said the federal Highway Trust Fund is billions of dollars in the hole because its money comes from taxes on gasoline, and gas consumption is down due to high prices. He said Congress recently allocated $1 billion, nationwide, to repair bridges. Someone pointed out that the Q Bridge project, currently under construction, is going to cost about $2 billion. (The war in Iraq costs $2 billion a week, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and totals more than half a trillion dollars to date.)

Another problem causing delays and adding cost to the project is that the Buckeye pipeline will have to be moved at taxpayer expense, since it’s considered a public utility. Jerry Dunklee (pictured to the left of Mangini in photo above) suggested DeLauro be asked to help. “[Buckeye] lives on the defense industry [transporting fuel to Westover Air Force Base]. They have a law that specifically protects them, makes them whole, in the context of any move. They need to give back a little. They’ve been on the public teat for all of their existence, and it’s time to give back a little bit to a community that needs some help now.”

Mangini responded that DeLauro’s office has had conversations often with companies that have federal business, and indicated this was an appropriate step to take with Buckeye. The company, which transports fuel and other liquids for many clients, did not return two calls seeking comment.

Update: Colleen Ford, manager of right of way and permits for Buckeye, wrote in an email message, “Buckeye recently received plans from CDOT and is still trying to assess how the work along Quinnipiac Avenue will affect Buckeye’s pipelines.” In an earlier conversation she said the company’s pipelines had to be moved when the DOT did some work on Forbes Avenue. “We are considered a public utility in Connecticut. We relocated solely at the request of the DOT, due to construction in the New Haven harbor, and the government paid for it. We didn’t move for our own benefit and make the taxpayer pay.”

The neighborhood’s two alders, Erin Sturgis-Pascale and Alex Rhodeen, tried to move the meeting forward to a few other items. Christmann wasn’t quite ready to let it go. “There’s more than one accident a week in that less than half-mile stretch,” she said, her frustration mounting. “There’s been vehicular deaths. I don’t think there’s been a pedestrian death yet, but it’s gonna happen. There are no curbs to keep the cars from hitting the people. This is an emergency situation.”

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posted by: anon on September 10, 2008  11:58am

The group also voted to support the New Haven Petition for Safe Streets, at http://www.newhavensafestreets.org/

posted by: robn on September 10, 2008  12:14pm

Republicans take note. The GOP 30 year mantra of “starve the beast” is coming home to roost with crumbling US infrastructure. You guys created this problem.

posted by: scoots on September 10, 2008  12:39pm

This is far more than a 10 year problem.  I was speaking to my mother, a Q-Ave. resident, recently.  She lamented that the street has not been touched in the 30+ years that she has lived there.  Sidewalks that were once just cracked and broken have now disintigrated and turned to dust.  The family’s cars have been hit and vandalized more times than she can remember just because they park on the street.  There have been at least three driver fatalities in her area since the Ferry Street Bridge closed (all speed-related), plus the incident at Grafton Street where a child was killed on his bike, and the child who had both legs broken at the corner with East Grand.  The city has ignored these issues for so long, I can’t really say I’m surprised that they aren’t meeting this deadline either.

posted by: anon on September 10, 2008  1:08pm

I agree, Scoot - and it’s actually much worse than that.  The injuries and deaths have been horrific, but just as bad is the fact that people haven’t have the freedom to walk in their neighborhood, which affects so many other things.

posted by: Walt on September 11, 2008  6:17am

Hamden is ready to help!

Our Mayor,  to make happy his clique,  gave back our allocation of $$millions for a much needed bridge rebuild in Hamden.

That State money has now been recommended by the South Central Region Council of Governments for use on your Quinnipiac project.

Happy(?) to help.

posted by: Politico on September 11, 2008  6:50am

Why does it cost $5 million to do this??  Why does a pipeline underneath the road have to be moved??  Why do rights of way have to be taken from properties?? I would think repaving with new curbs and speed bumps would only take a week to build. Other roads get done over night if they are downtown.

My thoughts

Payback to Joel Schiavone for trying to improve the area. Republicans are not wanted in New Haven

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on September 11, 2008  7:19am

ROBN

You’re right! It’s all George Bush’s fault. He’s the one that diverts all our local tax money to education so that our kids can’t get a bagel in the morning for $12,000 a pop. No wonder there’s a 60% dropout rate. How dare he think of national security! Damn Bush!!

Easy Solution to road problem. Just have Roland Lemar move onto the street, then it will be paved. Worked for him in East Rock, and the road was not that bad to begin with!

posted by: melinda tuhus on September 11, 2008  10:13am

Walt,
  The Council of Governments voted to use the money saved from not redoing the bridge in Hamden to redoing the State Street bridge in New Haven, not Quinnipiac Avenue. But withdrawing the Hamden project did move up the Q Avenue project one slot.

posted by: Doug Forbush on September 11, 2008  2:35pm

I agree with Polito.
Destephano is trying to stick it to Joel Schiavone. He knows Schiavone owns a lot of the potentially valuable properties in the area so he is going to let it fall apart so Schiavone looses money. Who cares if a few low income kids get killed by speeding cars in the process.
Also, Politico, the fuel pipline runs through the area on an elevated series of bridges not underground.

posted by: Politico on September 11, 2008  6:50pm

Doug for Bush

The above ground pipes are in a yard by the road. Why do they have to be moved?

posted by: QRiver Res on September 11, 2008  8:41pm

Doug you are spot on with the Joel theory. It’s the only one that makes sense as to why the mayor seems to of abandoned this part of town.  It sometimes feels as though the city wants to cut us off at the bridges hoping we’ll succeed or join east haven. So after we loose yet another Coffee shop to Joels failing investments, I would say the point has been made… Now can we get some infrastructure please! Q ave itself qualifies to be a historic district with it’s 18th century sidewalks.


Politico the pipe runs over the road at the south end of lenox street at a height too low for trucks to pass under, after that it’s buried under quinnipiac ave.

posted by: Walt on September 12, 2008  7:46am

Melinda

Thanks for correction.

What   State St. bridge? 

Over the Mill River by the little dam and the ice-skating?

posted by: politico on September 12, 2008  11:44am

Q RIVER RESIDENT

I still dont get it. If the pipes go over the road leave them if they stop trucks. If not there will be more trucks on the road. More accidents.

posted by: melinda tuhus on September 12, 2008  1:07pm

Yes, Walt, that’s the one. You can read more about it here:

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/08/road_projects_p.php

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on September 14, 2008  11:47am

I want our street repaired too.  While we wait for our continual residential bitching to sufficiently grease the gears, it MIGHT be best if the dangerous driving could be eliminated by ENFORCEMENT of existing laws (speeding, reckless endangerment, littering, dumping, noise, etc…)

posted by: Walt on September 14, 2008  5:11pm

In Hamden, the individual property owner is responsible for sidewalk repair unless the Town - owned trees raised the sidewalk,  or some other Town   action (plowing etc.)  damaged it.

Is the City of New Haven responsible for all sidewalks, or is Q Ave somehow special?  If not,  why aren’t the property owners being forced to repair their own sidewalks ?

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