Quinnipiac Avenue, a main artery of New Haven’s Quinnipiac East neighborhood, is set to install a slew of road safety improvements in the coming years. Residents and city officials met on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of traffic calming infrastructure and new pedestrian crosswalks, among other initiatives. These changes are slated to begin in spring 2022.
Yesterday, New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05 hosted a Zoom update meeting on the developments. Over 30 residents attended the meeting, asking questions about the Engineering Department’s traffic infrastructure plans — first created last July after a neighborhood input meeting — and voicing related concerns. The Quinnipiac project’s main goals, he said, were to improve pedestrian connectivity and reduce vehicle speeding by installing or improving crosswalks, sidewalks and traffic calming infrastructure along the road. Zinn also shared several new diagrams depicting several different intersections along Quinnipiac Avenue.
“We set out some goals at the beginning of this project really based on your feedback as a community over the years,” Zinn said. “A lot of our best ideas come from the community, so it’s really important for us to work together.”
The planned improvements have a total $2.7 million budget allocated from the CT Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program — a program that assigns money through the South Central Regional Council of Governments.
The final design for Quinnipiac Avenue will be released in July and receive a vote for approval from the state later this year. Zinn said that construction will begin once the Grand Avenue Bridge, which is in the midst of an 18-month construction timeline, is completed next spring.
Among the most prominent proposed improvements for Quinnipiac Avenue is the installation of speed tables, which Zinn described as a “stretched-out version” of a speed hump. These tables are intended to raise the road surface by five to six inches to slow passing traffic without disrupting the flow of heavier emergency service vehicles like ambulances. Zinn describes speed tables as one of the most effective tools his department has in traffic calming. He said that spacing them out every few hundred feet could further keep speeds consistently under 25 mph.
Other improvements include the repaving of the road’s northern and southern ends as well as new crosswalks at the intersection of Quinnipiac and Hemingway.
In Tuesday’s meeting, residents living around the planned developments expressed concerns over past traffic collisions in the area. Zinn emphasized that such collisions could be avoided by reducing speeds along the entire Quinnipiac corridor — particularly through the new speed tables. Studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation have shown that vehicular speed is one of the greatest determining factors in a collision’s severity and fatality.
During the meeting, resident Stephanie Swantek asked Zinn if the city had considered the use of automated enforcement, such as speed cameras, to further reduce speeds along Quinnipiac Avenue. Cameras to enforce speeding laws are currently illegal in Connecticut.
Doug Hausladen ’04 — director of New Haven Transportation, Traffic and Parking — noted that though the state of Connecticut does not currently permit municipalities to use automated enforcement, his department would support the technology if it became legal.
“The city is in favor of additional ways to have enforcement, especially enforcement that does not necessarily require person-to-person interaction,” Hausladen said.
He added that pilot programs for this type of technology are a major component of H.B. 5429, which is being considered during the current legislative session and received widespread support from New Haven residents last month.
Residents also asked questions about sight line issues at the intersection of Quinnipiac and Clifton Street, the installation of protective bollards at the Quinnipiac/Hemingway bus station and the maintenance of historic brownstone properties along construction areas. Zinn emphasized that his department would continue to investigate the concerns residents voiced at the meeting.
Still, many members of the audience also expressed excitement at the designs during the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Zinn handed out his personal phone number and said that the city hopes to pilot an online system that would allow residents to view and comment on ongoing traffic improvement plans. Hausladen also encouraged residents to contact alders about issues as they arise.
Ward 13 Alder Rosa Ferraro-Santana called the improvements “long overdue” on Tuesday. State Rep. Al Paolillo, who has been a major advocate for the allocation of the project’s budget, also attended the event. Both praised the city officials for their efforts in community outreach.
“You have — besides the great design — been listening to the community and engaging the community,” Paolillo said to Zinn and his department at the meeting. “You’ve definitely been a model for what city government should be and aspires to be, so thank you for the collaborative process and keeping in touch with the community.”
Quinnipiac Avenue forms the border between New Haven’s 13th and 14th wards.
Isaac Yu | email@example.com