Chapel West 2.0

Markeshia Ricks PhotoA municipal taxing district created in 1986, Chapel West runs along Chapel Street from York Street to Sherman Avenue, Howe Street from George to Elm Streets, Dwight Street from Chapel Street to George Street, Park Street from Elm to Crown,York Street from Elm to Crown,Crown Street from Park to Howe, and Orchard Street from Chapel Street to George Street.

Chapel West has done a remarkable job. Basically replacing the city as much as possible and providing services to us property owners. May I suggest the next step?

Moving to the final plateau: creation of a neighborhood by reducing the non-neighborhood traffic.

Everything seems to be in place except for the traffic. We are still part of the 1940s traffic grid designed to get people in and out of downtown as quickly as possible. We have a major traffic artery at the heart of our neighborhood, as well as mostly one way streets making it difficult to connect both sides of the street and encouraging high speeds and disruptive traffic noises.

I have several suggestions designed to create this final step:

* Change all our streets to two ways. At least change Chapel Street. An old idea but one whose time has come. We don’t want people driving fast through our neighborhood; they can get out of town on the highway extension. If they come in to our neighborhood they compete with bikes kids dogs and pedestrians. They should not interfere with these neighborhood activities. (Click here to read a story about a new city study with a similar approach.)

• Make this entire area a hospital zone. Complete with noise and speed regulations and lots of signage.

• Reinforce all of this with speed and noise cameras that automatically send out tickets for violations.

• Talk to hospitals and ambulance operators and work out a plan to have them use the highway access and not Chapel Street.

Changing the traffic will profoundly change our neighborhood. I hope Chapel West will devote a lot of time to this important final link to our future.

Joel Schiavone, who created the College Street residential and entertainment district, wrote the following article. He is scheduled to appear on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” on Wednesday at 11 a.m. to discuss this and other ideas about developing the city.

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posted by: anonymous on November 10, 2015  12:11pm

The neighborhood has been requesting these types of changes for years, but the city has never had the funding needed to do anything.

The city just got a bond for over $1,000,000 to do traffic calming on Edgewood Avenue, which will help to some degree.

If you want to kill someone, just try driving at more than 15 miles per hour on Chapel Street.  Any responsible driver in this neighborhood goes slowly and keeps an eye out for young people and seniors crossing the street. 

Chapel Street is a dense, pedestrian rich environment - not just an artery to the suburbs - and road designs and speed limits should be adjusted accordingly.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on November 10, 2015  12:59pm

Welcome to the neighborhood Joel.
When will you be playing your banjo at Mory’s again?
FYI, there are already regulations re: ambulance sirens being prohibited on side streets, but there is no enforcement.
Motorcycles w/ deliberately broken mufflers are also chronic offenders. Again, no enforcement of noise ordinances already in place.
2-way streets will definitely slow traffic, but let’s also expand pedestrian and bicycle safety with protected lanes and cops on the beat. People walking or biking contribute NO noise or fumes.

posted by: Bradley on November 10, 2015  1:13pm

Most of Joel’s ideas make sense. But the city cannot, on its own, use cameras to enforce speeding and other traffic laws. Roland Lemar fought unsuccessfully for several years to enact legislation that would permit this. The opposition came from Democrats as well as Republicans, for a variety of reasons. These included privacy concerns, the potential for speed enforcement cameras to be used primarily as a revenue raising device, and a fear that black and Hispanic neighborhoods would be targeted. I believe these concerns can be addressed, but I suspect the odds of enabling legislation being passed in an election year is close to zero.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on November 10, 2015  1:35pm

Interesting ideas. I agree that neighborhood streets should be low-speed and two-way when possible. However, the Derby/Chapel intersection at Monitor Square, and the George/Norton/Derby intersections pose a problem when trying to convert Chapel and George to two-way. It’s possible that retaining George and Chapel as one-way streets leading to Derby Avenue is necessary, while other streets like Elm can be converted to two-way. If someone could figure out how to deal with the funky intersections along Chapel and George, that’d be great, but I’m a bit skeptical about it. Or maybe part of the streets could be converted, while some one-way sections remain.

posted by: HewNaven on November 10, 2015  2:27pm

Schiavone’s plan could work on nearly any “main” street (e.g. Grand Avenue, Winchester, Olive, Howard, etc.) and it would drastically improve the lives of the residents who live there. For one, they might have some peace and calm finally.

posted by: Mister Jones on November 11, 2015  4:11am

Chapel West doesn’t need to be a hospital zone. It’s so much more than that. But I do agree about the two way streets.