Traffic Calming Coming To Beaver Hills

Markeshia Ricks PhotoAfter years of waiting for a roundabout at the intersection of Crescent and Munson Streets, neighbors got a date: July 1, 2019.

That’s when the city plans to start the work that neighbors hope will finally slow down speeders.

City Engineer Giovanni Zinn delivered that news to neighbors of the Whalley Avenue/Edgewood/Beaver Hills Community Management Team during the most recent regular monthly meeting at the police substation near Minore’s Market.

It was kind of a good news-bad news proposition.

Zinn said a lot of work had happened to complete the design of the proposed roundabout. Plans were finalized in early July.

But they weren’t finalized in time to squeeze the construction in before Hillhouse High-schoolers returned for the new academic year, and closing off a portion of the street during construction simply wouldn’t be feasible for buses trying to transport students. So the new plan is to wait until after school lets out next summer.

The design calls for a 40-foot wide roundabout in the middle of the intersection, with a mountable curb around the edge and green space at the center. Around the roundabout, the team has proposed splitter islands (traffic islands) designed for speeds of 17 and 15.5 miles per hour. This design allows school buses, fire trucks, and even large tractor-trailer trucks to get through the intersection. (Read more about the roundabout here.)

July 1 was chosen because statutorily school has to be done by that date, Zinn said. He also noted that the estimated cost of building out the roundabout is right at $300,000. As part of the traffic-calming plan, a raised crosswalk also will be added for pedestrians between Hillhouse High and Bowen Field. The bike lanes that currently exist on both sides of Crescent Street will become a cycle track on one side of the street, he said.

“That helps to calm traffic throughout the Crescent Street corridor because the size of the travel lanes will appear narrower,” he said. “All that is planned for next summer.”

In other traffic-calming news, neighbors learned that four, speed humps are coming to Winthrop Avenue and Carmel Street between Percival and Goffe Terrace/Goffe Street this fall. But the city is still stumped on a fix for the intersection of Goffe Terrace and Ella T. Grasso Boulevard, though that intersection will soon be repaved.

Zinn admitted that so far the city is stumped on a way to make it safer and slow down traffic. But neighbors will get the decorative crosswalks that they’ve requested. If the weather permits, the crosswalk could go in at the end of October. If not, it will have to wait until the spring.

“We spent a huge amount of time trying to figure out some kind of traffic calming measure that would fit in that intersection,” he said. “We came up completely empty because it’s on a hill and the intersection isn’t quite 90 degrees and the sightlines are bad.”

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posted by: tmctague on September 24, 2018  1:10pm

New Haven is lucky to have Mr. Zinn - another great announcement!

posted by: nero on September 24, 2018  1:46pm

Please stop “traffic calming” on major arteries. Strangling traffic on major streets inevitably sends drivers speeding onto secondary streets, seeking a smoother, more efficient way to get to their destinations. The best solution is to synchronize traffic lights so that a driver traveling at say 25- 30mph can traverse New Haven on major streets without stopping.

But it appears that City Hall finds it easier to spend millions of dollars on “traffic calming” than to spend a fraction of that cost and truly calm traffic by synchronizing traffic lights on major arteries like Whalley.

Who finds their inner peace stopping every hundred feet for each traffic light on Whalley in Westville? Algorithm-driven Google Maps typically routes drivers onto Valley to avoid this hopeless mess. Line Valley with speed bumps and other “calming” measures and drivers will careen through even smaller residential streets. What sadist is the traffic engineer in this town?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 24, 2018  4:06pm

Nero, synchronizing lights on Whaley would be a good thing, It would also cost millions of dollars. Also, part of Whaley is a state highway, where the city does not have control.

And, according to the Engineering Department functional classification map, Crescent is a collector and Munson a local street. Neither is a major arterial.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on September 24, 2018  4:45pm

During the push for Tweed expansion this past spring and summer, East Shore residents were presented with plans for a roundabout at the corner of Burr Street, an idea which was sold to us as being *absolutely critical* because of the high speeds of cars and accidents in front of the airport.  In fact, we were told with detailed statistics, it is one of the most dangerous streets in the entire city.

When pushed, City officials and alders alike (I have the documentation and audio recordings) promised that the roundabout would happen *whether or not* the expansion of Tweed’s runway 2-20 became a reality.  It was not “quid pro quo”, a bribe, or holding the neighborhood “hostage” for traffic improvements.  Of course not!  How could any of us residents even question the benevolent intentions of the City?

Complete, absolute silence since then, as predicted.  Can East Shore residents *ever* have infrastructure improvements that aren’t in some way tied to an airport expansion campaign?  Or is the “carrot and stick” approach to politics the way the City intends to deal with us, like adversaries who need appeasement?

Other neighborhoods deserve improvements as well, and I don’t wish to minimize the needs of people there.  If Tweed had won their campaign, however, would we have been given “first dibs” on traffic calming?  We really need to question the “Ward vs. Ward” narrative here.

posted by: nero on September 24, 2018  7:36pm

Kevin: I’m not a traffic engineer, but I would be dumbfounded if that were true in this age of microchips and wifi that it would cost millions of dollars to synchronize every light from, say, Elm at Church to Wilbur Cross Parkway (3.5 miles). Other cities large and small have managed to accomplish synchronizing their traffic lights for decades without apparently breaking a sweat.

State control over a portion of Whalley shouldn’t be cause to throw up our hands in defeat. It’s not as if we have to go hat in hand to Beijing to get this done. Hartford should be receptive. Synchronizing lights on New Haven’s main arteries would make driving more pleasant, save gas, decrease pollution, lower the accident rate—making the city safer for buses, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.

As for other roads, I was really addressing the call for a solution at The Boulevard and Goffe. The Boulevard is a main thoroughfare and the stretch in question is primary access from Interstate 95, Highway 34 and Whalley to Southern Connecticut State University.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on September 25, 2018  1:13am

I hope at some point the Whalley Avenue intersection where it meets Amity Road gets redesigned to have a traffic circle be there. That intersection is really dangerous! It needs a traffic calming solution as well. Pedestrians have it no easier than drivers do in that area. I honestly think that it would do better with having a roundabout instead of having a bunch of traffic lights that causes the flow of traffic to only get worse.

posted by: robn on September 25, 2018  6:44am

As I wrote years ago, mini roundabouts worked in Seattle and they can work here.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 25, 2018  8:20am

Nero, I’m a city planner by training, not a traffic engineer. But I have been told by traffic engineers that traffic lights, with pedestrian signals, cost around $400,000 per intersection.

As I recall, Whalley is a state highway from the intersection of Boulevard to the city line. Not a short distance.

You would like think that Hartford would be helpful. As you might know, I worked at the Capitol for 30 years. For ten years, I staffed the Transportation Committee. “Helpful” is not a term I heard being used in conjunction with ConnDOT. More importantly, the state has a structural deficit. Synchronization of the lights on Whalley would in fact be a good thing; I doubt it will be funded.

posted by: Nan Bartow on September 25, 2018  10:16am

Thank you, Doug Hausladen, Giovanni Zinn, and Michael Pinto, for this proposed 40-foot wide roundabout at the intersection of Crescent St. and Munson St.  It will make us all feel safer when we navigate the streets, whether on foot, on bicycle, or in a motor vehicle.  We, as residents, have waited 15 years for this to happen.  By the end of next summer, the waiting will be over. First, the Police Academy Firing Range finally moved this year.  Next, the traffic calming circle will be built next year.  Life is becoming more civilized and pleasant in Beaver Hills. We appreciate the efforts of the City of New Haven to accomplish these feats.

posted by: nero on September 25, 2018  1:53pm

Kevin, those traffic engineers are pulling your leg. Here’s a U.S. Dept. of Transportation analysis that puts the hardware at about $10,000 per signal; signal timing updates at $3,000 or less; and maintenance at about $1,800—totaling about $15,000 per signal instead of $400,000 per signal.
https://www.itscosts.its.dot.gov/its/benecost.nsf/0/215F723DB93D293C8525725F00786FD8

Here’s an estimate of $2,500 to $25,000 per intersection from a certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer, who also points out very attractive cost/benefit ratios: https://www.quora.com/Traffic-engineers-Why-arent-traffic-lights-synchronized-in-suburban-areas

I also ran across this incentive: “Portland, Oregon, for example, installed carbon dioxide emissions monitors at their intersections before working to improve traffic flow. The monitors recorded lower-than-average pollution levels and enabled the city to claim federal credits for pollution reduction. They then sold those credits for $560,000 on the carbon offset market and used the money to pay for Portland’s intersection improvements. Success!”

Lastly, in the interest of truth-seeking and telling all sides of the story there’s this piece that essentially says that the more pleasant you make it for drivers, the more drivers you add to the road:
https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2012/08/syncing-traffic-lights-isnt-panacea-everyone-says-it/2975/

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 25, 2018  3:57pm

Nero, we agree on the benefits of synchronization (and, implicitly, that Whalley Ave. is a mess). But many traffic lights lack left turn and/or pedestrian signals and need to be replaced. The $400,000 was an estimate of a new light, rather than merely synchronizing existing lights. In any case, I doubt the state or city have the funds for the project you recommend.

posted by: Cove'd on September 25, 2018  5:33pm

Coordinating traffic signal timings can improve traffic flow, but it is not a panacea and won’t necessarily calm speeding or reduce crashes the way new physical infrastructure traffic calming (modern roundabouts, speed tables, etc) can - and especially if an intersection is unsignalized like Crescent/Munson.  We are quite frankly pretty lucky to have Zinn, Hausladen, and others given what they’ve been doing with the limited funds they have available.  That said, press your local leaders on issues like speeding and traffic safety, and perhaps even more will be able to get done.  Regarding mini-roundabouts - yes we need more of them.  The one at Quinnipiac/Ferry works pretty well.  Lets also not forget that there are roundabouts on Woodward - so the East Shore has not been left out.  Again more should be done - major streets, side streets, almost everywhere I look could use some modern street design, traffic calming, etc (think https://nacto.org/ )

posted by: Gimp on September 26, 2018  12:04am

Interesting posts. From Sean O’Brien there is a missive that the roundabout has been shelved, despite being touted as vital. The implication being no runway expansion, no traffic improvements. Naughty Morris Cove. From Nan Bartow there is an assertion that one will be built in Beaver Hills next year come hell or high water. What has Beaver Hills done to get in line first?

posted by: Nan Bartow on September 26, 2018  1:26pm

Gimp,
Our Whalley-Edgewood-Beaver Hills (WEB) Management Team has been working with Doug Hausladen et al for at least ten years to get this accomplished. Our turn finally arrived.  It was a long, long wait. I hope your wait is much shorter.
Nan Bartow