The intersection between Audubon and Orange streets is set to become safer for pedestrians as a result of collaboration between the city’s Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking and the development company Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.
Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04 petitioned the City Plan Commission last February to get approval for the construction of a safer crossing area between Audubon and Orange streets. Work on the crossing will begin in fall 2018, Hausladen said. Spinnaker, a development company that acquired a $75 million plot of land on Audubon in February in order to build an apartment complex, has given $65,000 to the city to construct a safer intersection. Hausladen said the city is working with Spinnaker to improve the pedestrian experience and the overall functionality of the intersection.
“The city’s staff, including my department, noted that there was going to be a large influx of pedestrians [because of the apartment complex] and that we should consider that in our design how to mitigate any impact of the additional traffic,” Hausladen said, “And the developer decided to contribute to construction of the improvements.”
The improvements will include the addition of a speed table — a raised area in the road that slows traffic and makes pedestrians more visible to drivers when they cross the intersection. The city is also adding bollards — raised metal poles that alert cars to a heavy pedestrian area. Rapid rectangular flashing beacons, similar to those at the safety crossing on York Street opposite the University Theatre, will also be installed.
Matthew Edvardsen, a member of Spinnaker’s management team, said traffic-calming and pedestrian safety measures emerged as a dominant theme of early discussions with neighbors — including the Downtown Wooster Square Community Management Team — and continued throughout the approval process for the construction of the apartment complex. Spinnaker believes improving the crossing area will help re-energize Audubon Street and connect it to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer said the proposed speed table for the Orange and Audubon intersection is designed to provide comparable safety and accessibility features. He said the new retail and residential complex planned for that neighborhood and the resulting, increased foot traffic will have a similar effect.
Motor vehicle traffic-calming measures installed throughout New Haven make the city safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists, according to Grotheer. Hausladen said that the petition to make the crossing area safe, in combination with the construction design, emerged from Mayor Toni Harp’s desire to make New Haven a “mobile city,” one that is safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
Mark Abraham, executive director of DataHaven, said that in recent years there have been several serious pedestrian injuries within a few blocks of the Audubon area, including one a few blocks from the intersection slated for improvement. While other intersections in New Haven have seen more crashes, Abraham said, he believes the proposed improvements will benefit both the immediate neighborhood and the developer and will represent a very small percentage of the development project’s overall cost.
In the last year, two pedestrians have been died as a result of being hit by cars, according to Abraham.
New Haven resident Peter Lindfield said that the crossing is currently unsafe because it is hard to see pedestrians but that the addition of flashing lights at the crossing would improve its safety greatly.
The city has already installed flashing beacons at the intersection between Audubon and Whitney Avenue.
Christina Carrafiell | firstname.lastname@example.org