Highway to Boulevard Conversions Appear in Tiger II Grants

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The New Haven Register is reporting that Phase 1 of the Downtown Crossing -- which will begin to remove Route 34 from downtown -- has been awarded a $16 million dollar Tiger II grant. Streetsblog Capitol Hill explains that some of the awardees are being leaked by members of congress in advance of the official release next week.

The Oak Street Connector, or Route 34, begins at the junction of Interstates 95 and 91 and extends on columns into downtown New Haven for 1.1 miles before dropping to grade and continuing as a pair of one-way streets. Built in 1959, the Connector was an urban renewal project, occupying 26 acres of land between downtown and the nearby neighborhood. The original plan was to extend the road another 10 miles, but that long section was never built. As a result, 600 families and 65 businesses were displaced to make room for a highway that was never completed. As of 2005, 73,900 vehicles traveled on the Connecter per day.

In 2002, the State of Connecticut sold off the land that had been set aside for the extension of the Oak Street Connector. In 2005, with the completion of Pfizer Pharmaceutical's research facility in the former planned right-of-way, the City of New Haven and local civic groups began calling for the replacement of the Oak Street Connector with a four-lane boulevard. A concept plan developed by RKG Associates and others identified 10 acres of vacant land to redevelop and two street connections to restore, along with a larger surrounding area to be revitalized. New Haven's Mayor, John DeStefano, Jr. included the removal of the Connector in Future Framework 2008 as an urban infill strategy. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Urban Design League of New Haven have been actively campaigning for the replacement of the elevated and paired one-way sections of Route 34 with walkable, pedestrian-friendly streets and blocks.

Learn more about the project from the City of New Haven's Website, here.

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Great News Keeps Rolling In, Sheridan Expressway Plan

Streetsblog New York City is now reporting that a TIGER II grant has been awarded to fund a planning study for the Sheridan Expressway Corridor. Learn more about this project at Streetsblog and Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Built in 1963, the Arthur V. Sheridan Expressway, also known as I-895, was designed by Robert Moses to connect the Bruckner Expressway with the New England Thruway in the Bronx. However, local opposition stopped its extension into the New York Botanical Gardens and left the Sheridan as a poorly connected 1.25-mile spur that mars the waterfront along the Bronx River. The Sheridan currently carries 45,000 vehicles per day, less than most of the nearby surface streets.

A New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) proposal to expand the interchange connecting the Bruckner and the Sheridan to decrease the frequency of crashes and chronic congestion has faced strong opposition. A coalition of groups, under Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA), developed an alternative vision in 2006. Their vision replaces the freeway with a surface street, improves street grid connectivity, and reclaims 28 acres of land for commercial development, housing and open space along the waterfront.

The Alliance's alternative vision was later included as one of the four options in the NYSDOT's impact study. NYSDOT is narrowed its options and develop a detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before proceeding to the construction phase. SBRWA called in the transportation engineering and planning firm Smart Mobility, Inc. to provide an independent engineering review of the initial DOT findings. They reported that none of the other options offered traffic advantages over the Alliance's alternative vision.

Recent set backs came in July 2010 with the NYSDOT's release of a preliminary traffic analysis that stated too many vehicles would be forced onto surface streets. The NYSDOT is expected to release draft environmental impact statements in early 2011.

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