Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Waiting for a Body Count

I work across the street from the amazing engine of development that is Goodwin College and regularly take the short walk from Pratt & Whitney to stretch my legs and put eyes on the Connecticut River.   Jarring me out of river staring bliss is the high speed outlet of the busy Route 2 exit ramp.  Even more disturbing than my alert high stepping to cross the street between speeding cars is the position of the new Connecticut River Academy magnet school building.  Something felt very wrong.  A school at the foot of a high speed exit ramp without any observable traffic calming or cross walks. Seriously?

The new building for the Connecticut River Academy
Consider for a second the increasing traffic from Goodwin College combined with the existing traffic from Pratt & Whitney and then add in a very concentrated traffic load from the school.   In the meantime, the CT DOT is asleep at the wheel.   Neither of the nearby roads, Willow and Ensign, have sidewalks passing under Route 2.  The Route 2 exit ramp that sends traffic rocketing past the new school is unchanged.  A valuable bicycle and pedestrian connection between the Connecticut River Academy and East Hartford's Great River Park remains (legally) disconnected.  I felt physically ill.

Goodwin College has decided to invest in higher education, magnet schools, rental housing, and riverfront property value in this previously neglected neighborhood.  This is despite the CT DOT scar (Route 2) that cuts much of the Goodwin campus and property off from Main Street East Hartford.   In what I've seen of Goodwin College's leadership, they are in it for the long game, which includes environmental sustainability, ethical stewardship, and community building.  It would surprise me if Goodwin College hasn't approached the CT DOT about fixing the looming hazard of the unadulterated Route 2 exit ramp.  Little do they know, the CT DOT is waiting for a body count.

I challenge Kate Rattan (CT DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator) and Sharon Okoye (CT DOT Safe Routes to School) to take a long hard (proactive) look at how Route 2 and the outdated interface with this neighborhood can be improved to the benefit of East Hartford and safety of the youths that are soon to attend the otherwise beautiful Connecticut River Academy.  I understand the the CT DOT is a large ship to turn, but to do otherwise would be negligent.

A view up the Route 2 ramp from the corner of the school yard
The exit ramp traffic is moving too quickly to read this sign.


Brendan said...

No one will be walking to a magnet school, though.

Tony C said...

Supposedly a good portion of the students of Magnet Schools are from the community. I do see students walking from the existing (smaller) school.

That said, magnet schools aren't my favorite thing due to the damage to the fabric of community, which used to include a community based school. The magnet schools are also more vehicle (bus and car) dependent.

dario said...

Don't be too facetious now, Brendan. Tony has a really good point. This is about institutions' commitment to sustainability and to community. The Goodwin people are doing their part it seems. Now the DOT and the State have to do their share. Good on you, Tony, for bringing this to our attention.

Chris Hall said...

That's not the only pedestrian-unfriendly Route 2 crossing. After dropping my car off for service one morning, I walked along Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury to get to a bus stop to head up to work. Zero pedestrian access -- I had to walk in the three-foot breakdown shoulder facing traffic going 45 mph in the morning rush. Very scary!!!

Is there a route 2 crossing that's friendly for pedestrians anywhere?

Tony C said...

Chris - That particular crossing is horrible. A cyclist was killed there, hit and run, a couple of years ago. Almost guaranteed that DOT involvement historically meant cars only, so I wouldn't any Rt 2 interfaces to account for other road users.

Brendan said...

I'm really like biased against that Connecticut River school because a few weeks ago I was riding by and I stopped to take a look at it and some asshole construction worker started yelling at me.