Courtesy of Carolyn Lusch
According to officials, drivers will not be racing down Valley Street for much longer.
On Tuesday evening, public officials invited residents to a Zoom meeting to suggest traffic safety changes including raised intersections along Valley Street, which runs through the residential neighborhood of Westville. This was the third major corridor development meeting presented by the Engineering and Transportation, Traffic and Parking Departments in the last month.
“We’re trying to focus on the areas where, throughout the city, we see the most frequent issues around dangerous driving and significant traffic,” Mayor Justin Elicker said at the meeting.
Giovanni Zinn, who leads the Engineering Department, called Valley a “high priority” corridor, noting that his department’s focus on Valley Street comes after strong advocacy from the Westville Community Management Team. The city has acquired $2 million for improvements from the Connecticut Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, which will fund the entirety of the Valley project.
With the funding, Zinn’s department plans to install several raised intersections in Westville, which are intended to reduce traffic speeds in a similar fashion to the Whalley Avenue speed tables Zinn presented last week. Speed tables, which are longer versions of speed bumps, are also a possibility for Valley’s final design. Overall, Zinn emphasized that the traffic-calming infrastructure will help make Westville a safer residential area.
“It really messages to people that if you want to come down Valley Street, respect the fact that it is a neighborhood, as opposed to a speedway,” Zinn said during Tuesday’s meeting.
As with the Quinnipiac Avenue and Whalley Avenue projects, residents will be able to use a newly-introduced online comment tool to pinpoint areas of safety concern near Valley Street on a map. This will allow residents to notify officials of changes they would like to see in their neighborhoods.
Residents of Valley Street also commented on other suggested traffic safety changes that were implemented in recent years. Carolyn Lusch worked with her CMT to request a “No Turn on Red” sign at the stoplight at Blake Street and Valley Street, though additional requests to reduce that intersection’s curb radius are still pending. At Tuesday’s event, resident Paul Chambers said that he worked as chair of the Westville CMT to request a crosswalk near 120 Valley St., an elderly housing unit. Although Chambers said it took six years for the request to be completed, he said that speeds have “come down considerably.”
Then, Westville Ward 30 Alder Honda Smith expressed optimism about the Valley Street project’s potential impacts, saying that residents have been waiting for these changes for “such a long time.” She also suggested that additional bumpouts be added along the curb to prevent parked cars from blocking drivers’ sight lines.
“I do personally believe that the raised intersections will slow traffic tremendously,” Smith said. “This is not going to be a speed haven for people to drive fast — I have confidence that this will be one of the most beautiful streets ever.”
After his department uses residents’ feedback to produce a final design, Zinn said, the city will hold an additional meeting in April to present the design.
Resident Iva Johnson expressed excitement about the proposed ideas. She said she also hopes to see the implementation of interim solutions to improve traffic safety before the changes in Valley Street are completed.
“I just want to jump up and down and act like a three year old, because I’m so happy that we’re going to have a neighborhood … where there’s not going to be racing cars,” Johnson said. “Families and children will feel safer.”
Valley Street’s safety improvements are scheduled to be installed by the spring of 2022.
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