City traffic-calmers brought neighbors a plan to ameliorate the dangerous intersection of Quinnipiac Avenue and Hemingway Street.
Weary of years of hearing screeching brakes and metal crashing on metal all along the northern portion of the busy Fair Haven thoroughfare, the neighbors demanded more.
With an urgent slogan of “no more blood in our neighborhood,” they have formed a new organization to get city hall’s attention to provide not just a temporary solution at this one intersection. They want a comprehensive approach, involving traffic calming measures for speed suppression, fixing sight line, signage, and parking problems, and other issues all along the avenue north of Grand.
At the same time they were grateful for the temporary measure, they called for grassroots action to get city hall’s attention
That exchange took place Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the Quinnipiac East Management Team (QEMT) at the Ross/Woodward School.
Longtime upper Quinnipiac Avenue resident Ed Schwartz told a group of 20 attendees that he and neighbor Paul Vercillo “met this afternoon to form a group to pressure the powers that can do it to do traffic-calming on Quinnipiac Avenue. We all know the horror stories, but it is time for action.”
Schwartz’s announcement coincided with a formal presentation by the city Transportation, Traffic, and Parking (TTP) Department’s Ray Willis of a temporary proposal to the difficult and dangerous Y-shaped intersection at Hemingway and Quinnipiac, which the department said it began to address last March.
The plans calls for moving the stop sign on Hemingway up closer to Quinnipiac Avenue, which has difficult sight lines; and creating a mouse-shaped bump-out area through striping and delineators (aka “rubber duckies”) at the southeast corner of the intersection.
That area will be demarcated with tubes, similar to the ones on Long Wharf Drive, with the result that the road will be narrowed, Willis said. That will help reduce reckless driving that takes place at the now-roomy intersection, he said. Seventeen crashes occurred or near the Hemingway-Quinnipiac intersection from January 2015 through June 20, 2018, according to Willis; four involved injuries, the rest property damage.
“I work for TTP, but I live on Quinnipiac Avenue. Plus I don’t own a car, I bicycle,” said Willis as his respondents asked for more at that intersection, like stop signs or platforms. “Your concerns speak strongly to me.”
In the wide-ranging discussion that followed, Schwartz and other residents queried Willis as to why the avenue, essentially a speedway from North Haven down to I-95, didn’t rate speed bumps as on Front Street or stately platforms as on Lawrence Street in East Rock.
Willis patiently led the group through what is possible financially and engineering-wise, and what is warranted in the national standards which the department follows. “It’s a financially feasible solution, although I’d like to see a raised platform,” Willis said.
When Willis said that the measured number and types of crashes do not warrant adding stop signs and other measures requested. Schwartz parried that statistics alone do not account for the near-misses on the avenue.
Willis concurred. He suggested that additional radar units — there are two on lower Quinnipiac that warn people if they are exceeding the speed limit — might help along other spots on the Avenue.
He told neighbors how to help make that happen: Report everything you see to SeeClickFix. And get neighborhood alders to sign onto a specific request.
Neighbors thanked Willis for the presentation while pressing for more action.
“I’ve been coming to these meetings for 14 years,” Schwartz said. “Now it’s time to act.”
He said his group, which has an email address that reflects the temperature of the impatience — QAveDeathTrap@gmail.com — will soon also have a website and is soliciting crash pictures and stories, of which Schwartz said he has already received seven.
The group plans to place signs on front lawns saying “Slow Down! Don’t Kill Our Children.” It plans to work with Amtrak, from whose bridge crossing the avenue the group hopes to hang traffic-calming themed banners.
“It’s time for pressure. It’s time to say to the mayor that someone is going to get killed,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz noted that many stretches of the avenue, especially around the railroad bridge,have no sidewalks. Or sections of existing sidewalks are so degraded they don’t deserve the name, he said. “You’ll see the weeds before you see sidewalk.”
Schwartz returned to asking why the city does not simply erect stop signs. Willis reminded him that the request for stop signs, along with bumps and humps, would not pass the “warranted” test of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the TTP’s bible, as traffic-calming measures on such heavily traveled roads at Quinnipiac Avenue.
The purpose of that manual’s guidelines is to move traffic, not stop it, counseled neighbor and attorney Marjorie Shansky.
“What about public safety?” Schwartz replied. He then said he’d pay for stop signs. Other neighbors said they knew folks at Amtrak and would ask if it would support draping essage banners from the overpass.
Another resident said he could get the signs and banners printed cheaply, and the grassroots campaign was off and running.
Schwartz and Willis agreed that they would continue to work on parallel tracks — city measures combined with grassroots action — to try to make a difference.
“Let’s work together,” said Willis. “I love it: crowd-sourced traffic-calming.”
The district’s top cop, Lt. Jason Rentkowicz, reported that in the last month police made 361 traffic stops, including at DUI checkpoints. Of those 361, 150 were made on Quinnipicac Avenue. A lot of those stopped were “people who are your neighbors. We know enforcement alone is not going to change behavior,” he said.
Those stats are roughly the same from the previous month. The traffic unit making those stops is roughly half the size it was last year, he added.
Willis committed the department to having the striping and delineators at Hemingway and Quinnipiac in place before the first snowfall of the year.