Route 34 West

8 December 2008

TO: City of New Haven Workshop on Route 34 West
RE: Draft proposal for new streets and blocks for the Route 34 West area

The New Haven Urban Design League has prepared this draft proposal to encourage discussion of alternate street and block patterns for the Route 34 West area. The current street system of two one-way arteries was created as an interim road pattern, to be superseded by a limited access highway spur connecting to regional ring-roads. These temporary roads were designed to accommodate high-speed, high-volume traffic. And although temporary, the roads have established, through their design and the habits of 30 years of use, an exclusive and destructive definition of this area’s purpose as being for the use of automobiles. Even as an automobile environment, the road system has failed: it has been a primary locus of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths.

The City of New Haven’s most current plans call for the establishment of neighborhood-linked cross-streets and new traffic lights. These are good measures; they could ameliorate some of the problems of high speeds and lack of connectivity. But none of the options go to the root of the problem: the one-way streets themselves. Our draft plan provides one option for creating a two-way system based on a single boulevard. There have also been proposals to create two¬†two-way avenues. We hope the city and the community will explore all of these.

Benefits this proposal addresses:

  • Eliminates disruptive and dangerous high volume traffic along Legion Avenue through the project area, laying a foundation for mixed-use development;
  • Joins existing West River neighborhood blocks with the new project area providing extension of neighborhood identity;
  • Promotes connectivity with residential areas south of Legion Avenue;
  • Continues scale of existing neighborhood street pattern;
  • Provides traffic calming by directing flow away from straight line “race track”, and by creating two-way traffic on Legion Avenue;
  • Improves pedestrian safety by eliminating half the intersections along the corridor;
  • Creates a simpler and safer intersection with Ella Grasso Boulevard;
  • Two-way boulevard reduces vehicle miles traveled in a congested and polluted zone;
  • Lays a foundation for comprehensive planning with the Connector removal project to the east of the Air Rights Garage;
  • Facilitates planning for mass transit by defining a single arterial boulevard.