45 Minutes To Drive 2.5 Miles

Officer David Hartman couldn’t officially tell New Haven how jammed-up downtown traffic was Monday morning—until he could arrive at work himself.

Hartman, the police department’s spokesman, said cops had their hands full steering cars through blocks of gridlock and semi-gridlock. A confluence of events contributed to the problem: Yale’s graduation (with blocks of Elm and York closed to cars), combined with regular rush-hour traffic, combined with extra graduation visitors driving into town due to a shutdown of Metro-North service from New York following Friday’s derailment and collision. Plus, utilities scheduled repair work in the area, and the state transportation department closed a Route 34 ramp to begin a new round of highway construction. (Don’t ask.)

Hartman left home at 8:35 a.m.—and didn’t arrive at work, two and a half miles away, until 9:15. “Admittedly, I saw the congestion ahead of me, and decided to try it anyway.”

Paul Bass PhotoAccording to Lt. Julie Johnson (pictured outside Yale’s Old Campus with Yale Assistant Chief Steve Woznyk), New Haven had 19 officers, including four on motorcycles, helping 30 to 40 Yale officers bear the brunt of frustrated motorists and direct cars away from blocked streets ...

... like Whalley at Dwight leading into Broadway, where Officer Raymond Bright and Elvin Rivera were maintaining calm.

Yale graduation-related events continue through Monday afternoon, so Hartman advised drivers to avoid the Elm-Broadway-York-High area. And he issued this official advice to the rest of us: “With thousands of out-of-state parents trying to find their way, those with regular business downtown should give themselves some extra time to reach their destination.  We need to be ready, with a smile on our faces, to give helpful directions. This is an annual occurrence that we should be used to. Commencement visitors are sort of like our yearly version of the cicadas (The Ivy League Brood, if you will). Lets make their visit a pleasant one.”

Meanwhile, with cars cleared out of the campus area, it’s been a nice day to walk ...

... and bike.

In other police news, according to Hartman:

Jack-In-A-Trunk: A Guilford man “was heading to his car” at Chapel and East Streets shortly before midnight Sunday evening when he unlocked it with his key chain’s alarm button. “As the car unlocked, a man jumped out and with his car stereo in hand, took off running.” The Guilford car-owner ran after him, with the help of some other men. The pursuers caught up to the man and “pinned him to the ground.” Detectives, responding to a report of an “altercation,” arrived on the scene and arrested the alleged burglar, a 33-year-old West Haven man, on a variety of charges.

Nowhere To Run: A man was conducting business in a port-a-potty on the Upper Green at 1:15 p.m. when a man he knows as “Jay” “burst in,” “punched” him in the face, and “robbed him of $80 and 100 Xanex pills.”

“D-Block” Was Carrying:
Police tried to stop—and then clashed with—a 27-year-old Fair Havener who rode his bike within the “safety perimeter” around a house-fire scene on Ferry Street at 8:20 p.m. Saturday, according to Hartman. The man, known as “D-Block” allegedly ignored orders to stop, then, when officers “closed in on him,” “‘violently’ shoved the bike out from under him at the officers.” Cops arrested him and “relieved him of a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun ... loaded with hollow point bullets.”

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posted by: Curious on May 20, 2013  1:00pm

Maybe all the Yale families are snarling traffic because they are so excited to try out the new drive-through at Popeye’s.

posted by: Lars3 on May 20, 2013  1:50pm

Why is a healthy adult driving 2.5 miles to work on a beautiful day like this? A two and half mile bike ride would have taken no more than 25 minutes, and a walk would’ve been less than an hour. I’d like to congratulate Officer Hartman for contributing to the traffic this morning. Good job buddy.

posted by: NHPDHartman on May 20, 2013  3:05pm

Hey Lars3. What an ignorant comment. I wear a uniform (not a spandex one, thank God)and am mandated to drive a Police vehicle home and to work. It’s filled with equipment I use to perform my job. I don’t think it would be prudent for me to carry a couple hundred pounds of hostage negotiation equipment with me in a back-pack and peddle off to a call. I don’t have the luxury of cycling to work, or believe me I would.

I bike daily - I just have to wait until 5:00 to do it.

In the future, consider a general comment rather than attacking an individual, buddy.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on May 20, 2013  3:46pm

Well, given that the article yesterday was all about “walk or bike to work if you possibly can,” I had the same thought as Lars.  It would have been helpful if the article had explained why Officer Hartman was required to drive to work; it wasn’t self-evident from the article.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 20, 2013  7:29pm

a 2.5 mile bike ride would actually take like 10-15 minutes at most. However it doesn’t change the fact for various reasons someone might not be able to cycle, or even walk.

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 20, 2013  9:31pm

This must be a day of confusion for me, but…..

If bicyclists actually followed the rules of the road, they would be caught in the same traffic trap as everybody else.

posted by: Curious on May 21, 2013  9:18am

Have we gone so far down the rabbit hole that we’re now castigating people for not walking or biking at every opportunity?  Do you all drive or walk to work every day?

Not everyone can afford to add TWO HOURS to their work day.

posted by: Westville Parent on May 21, 2013  9:51am

Sometimes even well-meaning people with single issues on their minds miss the forest for the trees. Bottom line, Officer Hartman, is your service helping to make New Haven a better, safer city for all of us is appreciated. Glad you get out to ride after your shift! It’s a beautiful thing.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 21, 2013  1:14pm

What is going on with the self-appointed “political correctness police” who seize on any news item to judge and/or vent?
  As a cyclist, I apologize for those who might be mistaken for representing me.
  And FYI, I fear for cyclists who run red lights or don’t have a helmet or scare pedestrians on sidewalks.
  Back to the topic.
  I was one of the people caught in the incredible traffic snarl. My goal was to do some errands in different parts of town. Since I don’t follow the Yale calendar, I was caught unaware. So I gave up, but wasted 45 minutes of my time.
  Please may we have better alerts when streets will be closed off for any reason? Post it here at the NHI.
  We’re all in this together. Let civility break out. I can deal with it.