On Monday, New Haven began phase two of the Downtown Crossing Project, connecting downtown sections of the city with nearby neighborhoods.
The three-part project looks to make New Haven a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city.
Leaders broke ground on the site of the future Orange Street and Route 34 Intersection, which is designed to bring the community closer together. In the 1950s, an urban renewal project disconnected city neighborhoods and cut off access to Union Station from downtown. Now, the project aims to reconnect these neighborhoods and improve critical infrastructure.
Michael Piscitelli, interim economic development administrator for the City of New Haven, believes that rejoining these areas will create a stronger city.
“This is an area of town that very much wants to be closer to the train station and to Hill neighborhood in order to make a community,” Piscitelli said.
Downtown Crossing will add a crucial intersection to reconnect Orange Street in the Hill neighborhood to South Orange Street in the downtown section. The intersection will cross Route 34 and provide pedestrian crossing lanes as well as the state’s first protected bike path.
“We are now a mid-sized city and top 10 nationally for those who walk or bike to work,” Piscitelli continues.
Community leaders note the project is funded by federal, state and city funding. Since 2010, the city has been awarded a combined $36 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II (TIGER) grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development provided $21.5 million in funding to support the economic development of the area. The City of New Haven also committed funds as well as Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) recalls the past urban renewal project and believes disconnecting these areas was a mistake.
“We will correct a mistake that was made in cutting off downtown from our communities,” DeLauro added.
Along with rejoining neighborhoods, Mayor Toni Harp (D) said it will reunite downtown with the train station as well as the newly developed areas from phase one of the project.
“This grade level Orange Street crossing continues the work we’ve done these past six years to unify downtown New Haven with Union Station, the Hill and medical complex,” Harp said.
The project is expected to take two years to finish and is expected to be completed in summer of 2021. New Haven leaders are asking for patience from area travelers who utilize these roads. For traffic updates, they ask commuters to sign-up for email alerts on their website. http://downtowncrossingnewhaven.com/stay-informed/