At neighborhood meetings, DOT reps informed residents that the plans to close Flower Street were set in stone. One even claimed that it does not matter how many outraged individuals show up at tomorrow’s hearing, opinion will not be swayed by the public.
As local businesses have collected hundreds of signatures and as more people have let their disapproval be known, the DOT seems to be backpedaling. On yesterday’s broadcast of Where We Live, Mike Sanders of the DOT, indicated that the State has begun to reconsider shutting Flower Street to all traffic this fall.
Then, during the DOT “field walk” of the Flower Street site, there was actual discussion between DOT (and its contractors) and residents/stakeholders. Just last week the DOT showed its unwillingness to engage in meaningful two-way conversation with residents who would be impacted, but yesterday, they began to entertain the idea of a flyover bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.
Those who use Flower Street as pedestrians and cyclists have been attempting to explain to the Department of Transportation how the closure of Flower Street would impact their safety as a detour would add danger by forcing them to use many more intersections. Whenever this issue as been raised, the DOT changes the topic by misrepresenting the issue by saying that having one safe intersection does not make all the others safer; the point being missed is that the cyclist/pedestrian would have, in Flower Street, at least one relatively safe street instead of none in the area.
While it is true that this construction is complicated because it involves Amtrak in addition to the DOT, the latter organization has the power to communicate and collaborate with the former; not attempting to do so demonstrates an absence of political will.
Last year when the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry was threatened with closure, one former journalist had told everyone to stop fighting it because the officials’ minds were made up. The people ignored her call to be passive; the ferry continues to run.
If all continues as planned, on August 23rd, there will be an adjudicated regulatory hearing at DOT headquarters in Newington on the Flower Street closure; this will be held at 8am in Conference Room A. The public may attend.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.