Nearly 20 Wooster Square residents convened Monday evening to consider changes to Olive Street, the roadway just east of State Street that has seen numerable pedestrian and cyclist accidents in the past several years.
The Downtown Wooster Square Community Management Team’s Planning & Development Committee hosted a meeting to hear feedback and ideas from community members on potential improvements to the street. The committee has $5,000 remaining from the original $10,000 it received from City Hall’s Neighborhood Public Improvement Program, part of which the community has already used to purchase a bike corral.
“It’s tragic that we have to be as reactive as we are,” said Doug Hausladen ’04, director of the city’s department of transportation, traffic and parking.
To begin the meeting, Hausladen asked attendees to identify the most significant problem commuters on Olive Street faced. The majority of residents voiced two concerns: the speed of passing vehicles and the danger the vehicles posed at the intersections.
Olive Street, which spans roughly eight blocks, has high walls on both of its sides and runs straight. This layout causes drivers to develop a racecar driver-like mindset and speed down the road, one community member noted.
Sometime before the meeting, Wooster Square Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 and Hausladen had walked along Olive Street and discussed ways it could be better. The ideas ranged from making street lines more visible to installing more permanent, visible pedestrian signs at the intersections.
Attendees voiced their opinions on these ideas and shared their own.
Longtime Wooster Square resident Anstress Farwell, who is also president of the New Haven Urban Design League, floated the idea to convert the street into a shared street. This type of conversion would remove the curbs, level out the street and remove all signage, Farwell said. As a result, everything would hopefully slow down and pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles would move in cohesion.
Another resident proposed installing speed bumps to slow down traffic, but Hausladen was skeptical that Olive Street had fewer than 6,000 vehicles on it per day — the city minimum that must be met for speed bump installation.
Throughout the meeting, attendees suggested other proposals, such as reducing the road’s speed limit, installing a pop-out bike path and creating more bike corrals.
No action was taken at the meeting, but once the executive board convenes and determines which use of the money is best, it will bring the results to the rest of the members. The entire Community Management Team meets the third Tuesday of every month in City Hall.
Wooster Square is home to the famous Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.