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Walkability is the name of the game for New Haven officials who are aiming to improve traffic safety along Lighthouse Road. The road is the latest of the city’s major corridors being considered for infrastructural updates.

Around 15 residents attended a Zoom public input session hosted by City Engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05, who has been working with a team of engineers as well as Transportation, Traffic and Parking Director Doug Hausladen ’04 to develop proposals for traffic safety improvements across the city. Attendees were invited to speak on their experiences living near Lighthouse Road. Residents and officials emphasized increasing the surrounding Morris Cove neighborhood’s sense of community while ensuring safety as a top priority.

“We’ve seen an unfortunate and tragic number of pedestrian fatalities over the past year in New Haven, and also statewide and nationally,” Zinn said. “We’re really trying to project the image that these streets are often residential streets, that people live on them.”

Many of the proposed improvements to Lighthouse Road aim to shift use of the street away from motor vehicles towards cyclists and pedestrians. Several residents expressed an appetite for removing often unused street parking from one side of the road and replacing it with bike lanes and expanded sidewalks. 

Zinn, who is a resident of Morris Cove, said that he often walks with his family in the area and would like to see greater traffic safety implemented for his neighbors.

In addition to an overall repaving of the road and sidewalk repair, the city is considering an array of traffic calming options, including raised intersections. Officials hope the infrastructure can reduce speeding down Lighthouse Road. Attendees mentioned speeding traffic flowing to nearby Lighthouse Point Park as a primary cause of concern. 

“Speeding is probably the biggest problem, obviously,” said Neil Olinski, a transportation planner and resident of Lighthouse Street. “A good amount of cars and motorists just kind of pick up speed and just fly down the road.”

Lighthouse Road is an effective place to improve conditions for the city’s cyclists and pedestrians, Zinn said. Beyond giving Morris Cove residents safer access to Lighthouse Point Park, the road will form part of a long-term vision of what the city calls a “shoreline greenway,” a biking and walking path that would connect the park to New Haven’s downtown area. 

As one of the city’s high-traffic corridors, Lighthouse Road qualifies for funding through the Connecticut Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program. Zinn said that the plan’s final price tag could range between $500,000 and $1 million.

Other topics raised by residents included re-balancing the area’s bus stops as well as increasing residents’ walking access to the Pardee-Morris House at 325 Lighthouse Rd., which has functioned as the area’s historic house museum and community center. 

As with previous meetings on other major corridors, including Quinnipiac Avenue and Whalley Avenue, the city is giving residents the opportunity to offer continued feedback with an online comment tool. Officials say they will regularly monitor this platform until April 1. After a design for Lighthouse Road is produced based on this feedback, construction is likely to begin in 2022.

Ward 18 Alder Salvatore DeCola and State Rep. Al Paolillo were in the audience Tuesday night to hear their constituents’ concerns. Both officials praised the city’s department for their commitment to community-minded design.

“I appreciate you starting with the community,” Paolillo said to the engineers. “You’ve been successful throughout the city with your collaborative approach and the way you bring in the community to solve problems and make our pedestrians, our residents on the road safer.”

The city’s efforts to improve walkability and support vulnerable users of the road, such as pedestrians and cyclists, align with goals the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Department has set forth with the new Safe Routes for All initiative. This initiative will be further discussed at a virtual city event on March 24.

Lighthouse Point Park was established in 1924.

Isaac Yu | isaac.yu@yale.edu