UPDATE from Mobilizing the Region: Outgoing Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced significant changes to ConnDOT’s bike and pedestrian policies aimed to improve the delivery of projects, increase the pot of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects and enhance the existing design manual so cyclists and pedestrians are fully considered as part of the design process, as required by the 2009 Complete Streets Law.
With Chairman of the Connecticut Greenways Council Bill O’Neill by her side Friday, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced funding that will help close gaps along the 10-mile trail so it can stretch from the banks of the Connecticut River in East Hartford to the Hop River multiuse trail in Bolton, The Hartford Courant reported.
Rell said the state is changing its policies and practices to be more supportive of bicycling and pedestrian projects as part of an ongoing effort to provide a more balanced transportation network – a move that will ultimately make it safer and more convenient for Connecticut residents to bike and walk. (For another story on bike safety and smart traffic lights in New Haven, see below.)
Friday’s announcement took place in front of a mile-long segment of the trail that’s under construction from Gardner to Highland streets.
Rell announced funding that will include $300,000 for final design of a two-mile trail section from Rentschler Field to the Connecticut River. Also included will be funding to finish the design phase of the trail from Highland Street to Bolton Notch State Park in Bolton and the Hop River trail, which runs to Vernon and Willimantic.
She also promised a state Department of Transportation that will be more multi-modal — focusing not only on roads and highways but also bikers and pedestrians.
If we are going to have a truly ‘multi-modal’ transportation system, our focus must include bicycle and pedestrian efforts,” Governor Rell said during a news conference on a segment of the East Coast Greenway in Manchester. “As a state, we have made some progress in changing priorities to better incorporate and respond to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. However, the time has come to step up the pace.
“These new initiatives, implemented over the coming months, will continue to push us toward a more equitable statewide transportation infrastructure – one that reflects a growing sector of those walking and cycling on a regular basis,” the Governor said. “Many of the improvements we have made so far have come at the local and regional level. They have not been as coordinated statewide as they could be – or should be. And I always believe we can do better.”
Currently, for example, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations at rail stations vary from station to station and from transit operator to transit operator. The DOT’s initiative is intended to help address these and other impediments to bicycle and pedestrian options.
Governor Rell announced five immediate program changes at the DOT:
- Quick Fix Program: This DOT program will quickly respond to relatively minor bicycle and pedestrian issues.
- DOT Sidewalk Policy: DOT policy will assure that sidewalks are considered as part of the normal roadway design process and that their funding is treated the same as any other element of a road construction project.
- Funding: DOT will reserve 50 percent ($4 million) of State Transportation Plan-Enhancement funding each year for bicycle and pedestrian projects and allow the use of STP-Urban funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
- Project Design Manual: DOT will enhance the existing project design manual so bicycle and pedestrians needs are fully considered as part of the project design process.
- Inter-agency Collaboration: DOT and the state Department of Environmental Protection will collaborate more closely on issues related to bike and pedestrian needs.
The DOT has identified several other important actions it will take immediately. These steps are intended to demonstrate the agency’s commitment to implementing the new initiative and assuring it meets the goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian travel in Connecticut.
- East Coast Greenway – East Hartford segment: Provide $300,000 to finalize the design of a 2-mile segment that will fill a major gap in the Greenway, which is part of a larger greenway planned to extend from Maine to Florida.
- East Coast Greenway – Manchester to Bolton: Provide funding to finish design plans through Manchester and Bolton Notch, which will advance plans to fill this second major gap in this statewide trail.
- Farmington Canal Trail – Cheshire: Provide funding to design a key segment of a trail that extends from New Haven to Northampton, Mass., eliminating one of the remaining large gaps in the Canal Trail.
- Bike Storage at Train Stations: Improve and expand bike storage facilities at the state’s three largest train stations – New Haven, Stamford and Bridgeport – which will later be extended to all stations.
- Small Safety Projects: Correcting small-scale pedestrian and bicycle safety problems such as the restriping of crosswalks and pavement markings at the intersection of Route 100 and Park Place in East Haven to allow safer crossings for pedestrians
- Road Re-striping: Expand the program of restriping state roads to widen shoulders and narrow travel lines where feasible, which will have the dual benefit of reducing travel speeds and providing more shoulder space for cyclists.
“We are casting a wide net to improve both short-term, simple deficiencies in our infrastructure and, at the same time, change the way we do business when it comes to non-motorized infrastructure,” said DOT Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker. “This initiative won’t change the face of our state overnight, but it will help us be more responsive to our constituencies. Under this program, we will be securing nearly $4 million dollars a year to put directly toward non-motorized programs, projects and fixes.”
Read the entire story in The Hartford Courant here: Charter Oak Greenway extended – Courant.com.
Smart Traffic Lights Will Spot Bicycles
When a bicycle or car rolls up to this intersection late at night, there’s no system to trigger a green light—yet.
The city of New Haven plans to install overhead cameras at this downtown intersection and eight others as part of a $3 million state project to improve local roads before the Gateway Community College relocates downtown.
The cameras will detect any bike or car that’s stuck at a red light and trigger a green signal so it can safely cross. The change will be part of a major rethinking of intersections—the first of its kind in the state—that uses “bike boxes” to give cyclists first priority at red lights, according to city traffic engineer Bijan Notghi (pictured above).
The project, which still needs final approval from the state Department of Transportation, is slated to be complete in the spring of 2011, in time for the new Gateway campus to open to students in the fall of 2012.
Read the story here: “Smart” Traffic Lights Will Spot Bikes | New Haven Independent.