Brief: Officials approve lab construction

Despite ongoing concerns of possible increased traffic congestion near the Yale-New Haven Hospital, city officials voted to approve new plans for a $60 million clinical laboratory — an extension to the Smilow Cancer Hospital, currently under construction — at a City Plan Commission meeting Wednesday.

Architects at the meeting said the designed building — which will serve as a bridge between a nearby parking garage and the cancer center — will serve as a popular social space for the 10,000 New Haven residents who work in the area, the New Haven Independent reported on Thursday. The building will feature a restaurant, a pharmacy and a fitness center.

But the laboratory — which is to be located at 55 Park St., an area with high traffic volume — may lead to slower car flow for the surrounding neighborhood, city engineer Richard Miller and other city officials said.

In 2005, Paul Wessel, the director of City Hall’s Department of Traffic and Parking, issued a report on an expected increase in vehicle traffic that may accompany the building’s construction to Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mike Piscitelli, acting director for the city’s Department of Transportation, said the city may add new traffic signals and incorporate more pedestrian crossings in order to “make it work,” the New Haven Independent reported.

Hospital officials said they think the city will address the traffic issue before construction is completed.

Vin Petrini, senior vice president for public affairs for Yale-New Haven Hospital, said a proposal for a loading dock under the building will address some of the traffic concerns. When trucks load and unload along Park Street, they block the lanes of traffic as they back up, he said, but with the loading dock, the trucks would no longer obstruct the street.

The Smilow Cancer Hospital is scheduled to open in 2009, and the clinical laboratory will be completed by 2010, hospital officials said.

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