Phase I Nears Completion In Q Ave. Redo

Uma Ramiah PhotoCity Engineer Dick Miller has seen the “redo” of chopped-up, speeder-plagued Quinnipiac Avenue grow from a longstanding neighborhood wish to a construction project in full swing. 

On Tuesday night, he reported on that progress to the Quinnipiac East Management Team at its monthly meeting at Ross/Woodward School.

“There’s an awful lot of work to be done in the spring,” he admitted. “But I think that at the end of the day this section of roadwork is going be a really good example of how you do a job well.”

Community Commitment

Heavy traffic, speeding, disrepair and a lack of sidewalks on Quinnipiac Avenue have plagued the community for years. But it wasn’t a lack of initiative on the part of the neighborhood to improve the unsafe thoroughfare – it was a lack of funding. Read about the community’s decade long effort to see change here and here

“It’s taken almost 10 years to get this project started and implemented,” Miller told the community members gathered Tuesday at the Ross Woodward School. “We were very fortunate last year to get stimulus funds to fund 100 percent of this project.”

Because the community worked together to build a solid plan for reconstruction, said Miller, the initiative was perfect for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, aka federal “stimulus”) money. “When the ARRA money came out, because we had designed it, it was in a good position as a shovel-ready project to move forward.”

“I know a lot of you probably were involved with the design of this,” Miller said. “We held a lot of public conversations on it, and you now see a definition of a roadway coming together.”

Miller said he began engaging people 10 years ago. “We said we have an idea. And we used what you’d call a charette.” A charette brings citizens, officials, and experts together in a room to map out ideas for a construction project. “As the engineer,” said Miller, “I asked people, ‘what do you want to see happen?’ We had them help us with the process, gave them tools and restrictions, and this is what came out of it,” he said, pointing to a set of plans he’d brought to the meeting.

“I’ve presented this plan 100 times,” said Miller. “I can’t even tell you how many times. We’ve been at churches, schools, all over the neighborhood.”

The Plan

The project is broken into two geographical sections. Phase 1, which began April 1 of 2010, includes the section of Quinnipiac Avenue from Clifton Street to Ferry Street. Phase II, which is set to begin this summer, goes from Ferry Street to Judith Terrace.

Empire Paving, which won a bidding process following state and federal guidelines for the project, is carrying out the construction. 

CUts & Fills

Miller, with the help of resident engineer Rob Barrett, Tuesday night explained the difficulties that have emerged as construction continues. First, Quinnipiac Avenue is a narrow road, 40 feet wide. Most roads of its kind are 50 feet, he said.

“So we’re working in very tight areas.”

And everything on the avenue slopes towards the river. “When you have the land mass sloping towards the river, you now are into what we refer to as ‘cuts and fills,’” said Miller, describing how earth is removed from certain sections and used to build up others.

Perhaps most concerning: What lies beneath? “This is an area in the of the city that we’ve had little information on the underground stuff. We ran into more stuff underground that was not known.” Miller detailed pipes leading to nowhere and sewer lines the sewer authority didn’t know existed.

There are underground great records for the older, central section of New Haven, Miller explained. “But this was a part of the Annex, and we just didn’t have a lot of good stuff. We’ve been struggling with that.”

Most of that is over, Miller said he hoped, looking to Barrett for confirmation.

“Most of it,” nodded Barrett.

Where They Are

Traffic-calming techniques, meant to improve safety, are a vital part of the Quinnipiac reconstruction. Read about their significance here and here. Roundabouts and separators have been installed, but there’s still work left in this area.

“But if you look out there today you’ll see we’ve already created the curb line, you can see how the road is kind of going to be traveled on and some of the sidewalks are done. Some of the walls rebuilt,” Miller said.

A final paving needs to be done, driveways need to be finished, and the construction company will need to make sure all residential properties have full access to the road.

Miller said neighbors have asked him to look into replacing chain link fences along the avenue with decorative version to match the historic nature of the area.  “I’ve gotten a price on that, and it was over $400,000. We don’t have that kind of money in the budget.”

He said he’s looking into alternatives, including possibly changing the fence in only some residential areas.

Despite all the work, Miller was positive. “I think the project is coming along quite well.”

Barrett said construction should start on East Grand and Clifton Streets in “full steam” around April; that section should take about two months. “It should be done before summer, which is much better than the original plan.” The original time line allotted around 400 days for completion of Phase I.

Phase II is a short section that should go more quickly, Miller said.


Momar Ndao (pictured), who lives near the avenue, said he thinks the improvements are necessary. “The main issue is safety, really. And the road itself was so beat up.”

“My one concern is the narrow areas and the detours right now, but construction like this in any city is going to cause those problems.”

David Baker, who’s lived south of Aner Street (part of the Phase I construction) since 2001, had just one complaint.


He has a child; construction starts early. “But there’s nothing they could’ve done about that. So honestly, my only real complaint is completely unfounded,” Baker added.

“Some of us are curious about how we’re going to get the dust off our houses. But otherwise it’s been fairly impressive.”

Baker said he was initially excited about the traffic calming initiatives. “But then I drove down Front Street and realized they’d had to put speed bumps in on top of the traffic-calming measures. So I’m kind of wondering if traffic calming is a myth or not.”

Visually, Baker said it’s already a huge improvement. “You can walk a stroller from one end of the street to another without hitting a hole in the ground,” he said.

“It is inconvenient to have construction in your front yard, but ultimately what they’re doing is wonderful.”

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: anon on January 5, 2011  2:40pm

This is excellent work.  The city’s years of efforts have paid off and I hope other neighborhoods will be vocal in making similar requests. Though Quinnipiac is now no-doubt much nicer than it was, whether or not the new design is adequate for the neighborhood is another matter.

Baker commented: “I’m kind of wondering if traffic calming is a myth or not.”

Traffic calming is not a myth, it is a matter of degree.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, the maximum speed of a roadway is limited primarily by the engineer’s design, not by the recklessness of the most daring drivers.  Many roads in central cities are far narrower than Quinnipiac Avenue’s re-do, and therefore limit travel speeds to a maximum of 15 or 20 miles per hour.  These types of situations are great for kids in the area, and dramatically reduce crashes and injuries.  Quinnipiac Avenue goes that direction, but probably doesn’t quite get there.

If the neighborhood and city were not aggressive enough in pursuing “real” traffic calming, then the outcome here will not be as happy as it otherwise might have been.  That won’t be known until the roadway is finished and being used for a couple of years.

Now is the time to celebrate.  But if the city’s design is ultimately deemed insufficient, additional traffic calming can be easily installed, as it was on Front Street recently.  And at the very least, the project can serve as a case study to the city about what it really takes to calm traffic and turn a neighborhood beset by speeding into a truly livable community.

posted by: DEZ on January 5, 2011  3:12pm

I agree with much of what Anon said above.  The community was a driving factor in getting this project rolling due to safety concerns.  Like David Baker stated, if Front Street was redesigned instead of just repaved during the whole sewer separation process, the speed humps there now may not have been needed.  Who knows.  I, for one, love them as it enforces the limit in a physical way.  Unfortunately so many of New Haven’s streets are plagued by this same issue.  Quinnipiac is at least becoming a walkable neighborhood with the improvements, and that is going to go far in bringing people out to enjoy all that Fair Haven’s waterfront has to offer.

posted by: RAY WILLIS on January 5, 2011  3:45pm

Great photo of Quinnipiacs most dapper and distinguished resident and author, Ken Fox!

posted by: cue-do on January 5, 2011  4:35pm

How about civility, abiding by the law, and concern for one’s neighbors as elements of traffic calming?  Society is awash in self-interest.  We could use some true leadership in this city.

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on January 5, 2011  6:45pm

DEZ, “Quinnipiac is at least becoming a walkable neighborhood with the improvements, and that is going to go far in bringing people out to enjoy all that Fair Haven’s waterfront has to offer.”  Well Said.

Visit two marinas, pick up a lobster, a bag of oysters, grab a bottle of wine, a sandwich, go fishing, take a canoe ride into a vast wetland wilderness, grab a bus to a bustling downtown, a book at the library, amazing pizza,  the best selection of Latin food in CT (if not New England) visit the cleanest grocery store in the city, skip some rocks, lay in the grass, visit with neighbors, explore a unique cemetery, watch the bridges ‘do their thing’, play at the playgrounds, grow some flowers, enjoy the fireworks, start a garden, take in some historic architecture, play some ball in the park,  make a snowman, build a boat in your basement,  the list goes on and on….  and the sound of wind-chimes almost everywhere.

posted by: anon on January 5, 2011  6:47pm

cue-do: Nice to talk about “civility”, but we don’t rely on “civility” to ensure that airlines don’t get bombed or that our food supply doesn’t get poisoned by tainted meat. 

Even though many more people die from reckless driving and speeding every year, we spend almost nothing to make the local roads safer, while paying billions of dollars per year to make flying and food processing (fairly) safe.

Smart cities and towns don’t rely on “civility” to make their streets pleasant and attractive places for communities, families, children, elderly and disabled persons.  They do what Greenwich (or thousands of other cities) do: get rid of the vast expanses of asphalt, put a few planters in the middle of the street, and post with 15 mile per hour speed limit.

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on January 5, 2011  6:57pm

On the other hand, Gateway Term. HAS to do something about that fence.  It looks like Guantanamo Bay prison down there. Can’t they just lock the vehicles and the building instead like the rest of us?  Do they honestly think fences that blow over in wind storms are going to stop anybody?

posted by: Moe on January 5, 2011  7:54pm

I’m happy that Alderman Goldson’s complaints about this project’s cost were ignored. Da Heights as well as the historical area that Quinnipiac Ave is needed a serious facelift. Now we are gonna need some massive spespeed-bumps, not like those tiny bumps on Lexington Ave, to slow down all the Honda Civic “race” cars in the hood. Front Street style speedbumps every block would be nice, or maybe a cop taking radar every once in a while…

posted by: Alderman Maureen O'Sullivan on January 6, 2011  2:41pm

Dear MOE: 

In reference to your comment, “I’m happy that Alderman Goldson’s complaints about this project’s cost were ignored…”

This was not the part of Quinnipiac Avenue that my collegue questioned this year.  This part was in the works for over 8 years.  What was delayed until spring, God Willing, is the installation of sidewalks North of Foxon Boulevard in the vicinty of Bishop Woods School.

That said, I would love to see more Law Enformcement radar gun usage again.

Finally, the Quinnipiac River Community Group deserves praise for its influence on both sides of the river, Quinnipiac and Front Street.

posted by: ctscoots on January 6, 2011  4:07pm

Hey RAY WILLIS, don’t forget to compliment the photo of your friend Ndao Momar!  Great coverage Independent :)