By spring 2017, City Hall plans to add parking spots, pedestrian crossings and a two-way bike lane to Long Wharf to make the seaside neighborhood more accessible to Elm City residents.
The city hopes these improvements, which are being funded by City Hall and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, will help revitalize the neighborhood after years of interruptive construction projects and highway renovations.
According to city spokesman Laurence Grotheer, the renovations for the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, which connects Long Wharf to the Annex neighborhood, and the renovation of the Interstate 91 to Interstate 95 interchange turned “that shoreline portion of New Haven into a construction zone for a very long time.” Work on the new bridge began in 2008 and ends this year, but other construction projects have been ongoing for the past 20 years, Grotheer said.
This construction caused a drop in foot traffic, and negatively affected local businesses, said Maritza Cintron, who has operated the Mexican food truck Santa Apolonia on Long Wharf for 15 years.
“Before the construction, there were many customers and more people walking around [in the area],” Cintron said. “Maybe when it finishes, they’ll come back.”
Others who work at Long Wharf also hoped that the city’s planned improvements and the end of construction will boost local businesses. Maria Cintron, the sister-in-law of Maritza Cintron and co-owner of Santa Apolonia, said she was happy with the changes and that she expected business to increase once the projects were completed. Felix Sanchez, who works in the nearby Sandwich El Cubano, said Long Wharf and the businesses that call it home would benefit from more parking spaces.
City government officials hope these improvements will support a number of new community and consumer opportunities on Long Wharf, Grotheer said. He added that a new boathouse set to open this year at Canal Dock will allow Elm City residents to engage in water sports and other fun seaside activities such as walking along the beach and kayaking. The wharf’s scenic position also makes it an especially important area for the city to improve, he said.
“The Long Wharf area provides scenic views of the New Haven harbor, access to Long Island Sound and a literal link to New Haven’s maritime heritage,” Grotheer said.
Although it is now a fairly quiet neighborhood, Long Wharf used to play a key role in national trade and transportation. The neighborhood takes its name from a wharf that, at its peak, was the largest in the nation, stretching for three-quarters of a mile into New Haven harbor. The wharf housed many local businesses, including paper wholesale and roof slating companies. But the wharf was destroyed in the early 1950s to make way for I-95 and I-91.
Long Wharf is located within New Haven’s sixth ward.