New Haven Starts Planning for Pedestrian, Cycling, and Transit Infrastructure

Sept. 8, 2022
The planning is to fulfill their Complete Streets goals

According to the 2019 American Community Survey, a little over a quarter of New Haven residents travel by foot, bicycle, or public transit. That number may increase due to the recently approved citywide active transportation plan.

New Haven released the Safe Routes For All Citywide Active Transportation Plan in June. In the plan, the city makes dozens of recommendations to improve infrastructure for forms of transportation like walking, biking, and scooting, as well to enhance the city’s public transit infrastructure. At a Board of Alders meeting earlier this month, the alders unanimously approved the plan, bypassing a second reading and approving an application for a $5 million federal grant by September 15. 

“It gives us a framework and policy recommendations that help us prioritize the areas of greatest need,” city engineer Giovanni Zinn said in an interview with the Yale Daily News. “Having this plan in place allows us to be much more competitive for grant dollars… and provides a framework for us to be able to communicate to funders, to residents, to interested parties our plans to create a safer New Haven for all users.”

The makers of the plan say that active transportation has a variety of benefits, including improving human health and mitigating climate change. On top of those benefits, building safer pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure helps the city finalize the Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2032.

Residents will also see improved infrastructure that will be more accessible for elderly residents and residents with disabilities, according to advocates of the plan.

To achieve the plans goals, recommendations such as building 90 miles of new bikeways to installing “leading pedestrian interval” signals that allow pedestrians to cross before cars at all intersections have been suggested. The plan sets goals to implement improvements to one entire corridor segment per year for the next ten years and to install half of the proposed bikeway network by 2032.

It also creates a structure for focusing investment on highly dangerous intersections and in priority neighborhoods like Dixwell and Newhallville, which are home to low-income residents and communities of color who have historically experienced inequitable health outcomes and limited access to transportation. The project team constructed a database of all 1,566 intersections in New Haven and made maps of existing infrastructure, with detailed designs for improvements at 11 specific locations.

The Safe Routes for All team wrote the plan after multiple public workshops, walkabout surveys, and community conversations. They installed temporary pedestrian enhancements, like curb extensions and redesigned crosswalks, as part of the planning process. The plan also comes after years of advocacy by community groups like the Safe Streets Coalition of New Haven.  

Ward 1 Alder Alex Guzhnay ’24 told the Yale Daily News that the plan has been broadly popular among alders and residents, whom he described as “really appreciative” of recent improvements like the new contraflow bike lane on Wall Street. 

Safe Routes for All may benefit from the millions of dollars of funding that are newly available under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was signed into law by President Biden last November. 

“The plan got developed at a really perfect time,” Guzhnay said. “New Haven is one of the few, if not the only, municipalities in Connecticut that already has a plan that they can submit to the federal government to apply for funding.”


Source: Yale Daily News

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