Yale students and New Haven residents could soon enjoy smoother travel across the Elm City thanks to $1 million of proposed funding from the Board of Alders.
Last night members of the Committee on Resource Allocation met to discuss ways to use this grant to work towards calming traffic, renovating sidewalks and repaving streets. The four-person Committee, which includes two Alders, voted unanimously to buy and install five radar speed signs, which inform drivers of their speed and flash a strobe when they drive over the speed limit in a particular area. Doug Hausladen, who serves as the city’s director of transportation, traffic and parking, said that the radars will primarily be used to collect data to assess where to implement traffic calming measures, adding that they are easy to install and are not disruptive to residents.
“Since they don’t require ongoing maintenance, they have a pretty good bang for their buck,” Hausladen said, adding that the five solar-powered signs will cost the city $21,000.
City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said it is a more practical traffic-calming model than renovating entire intersections, which is financially unsustainable. While the radars do not register tickets or punish drivers for speeding, city’s deputy chief administrative officer Jennifer Pugh said she hopes their presence will make drivers more aware of their speeds and cause them to slow down. This initiative has already been implemented on Ridge Road in Hamden and on Valley Street in New Haven, near West Rock Park.
The committee intends to place the signs this winter in areas struggling with traffic issues, including along streets such as Lighthouse, Dixwell, Whaley and Whitney and areas around schools throughout the city. The committee will make further decisions about whether or not to invest in this traffic-calming model after evaluating the data in the spring.
Most actions concerning pavement refurbishments will also wait until spring.
“Given that it’s October, we’re limited in how much we can accomplish before the weather turns on us,” Pugh said.
Pavement plans for the segment of High Street between Crown and Elm Street and the segment of Wall Street between Temple and College are the only two projects that will start this fall. Work on these projects will begin when Yale students depart for fall break to minimize disruption.
Pugh said that the committee faces challenges because of its limited resources compared to the significant demand for sidewalks, street paving, street trees and traffic across the city. The committee makes decisions based on a rating system called the Pavement Condition Index, which assesses the quality of streets in the city. Certain locations that are heavily traveled or near schools, hospitals and senior citizen areas also take priority. The committee will decide what other pavement projects to take one in three weeks at their next meeting.
Currently there are 26 sidewalk projects on the city’s agenda, but Zinn cautioned that their costs are only estimates. While the board unanimously approved all of these projects, Ward 17 Alder Al Paolillo said that the list is constantly subject to change. The committee cannot account for unexpected street construction costs that could limit their funds for other projects.
“When we go out into the field and encounter problems, we fix them, which requires money from the budget,” Zinn said.
Renovations on Russell Street and refurbishments on the curbs on Mumford Road are two projects currently in the works, but the remaining projects will not be started until spring.
Pugh said that in the future the committee hopes to create multiple year renovation plans so that the public can get a sense of when their requests will be answered.
There are two categories of sidewalk repair: small repairs, which consist of a few squares damaged by things like tree roots and cost around $2100, and medium repairs, which extend up to half of a block and cost around $25,000.