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Memorial Arch To Reopen To Traffic

March 21, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

Less than a year after it was closed to car traffic, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park will be reopened this spring, officials said.

The arch was closed after several cars ran into it. But the closure essentially made Trinity Street one-way, cutting off a vital access from the northern part of downtown to the state Capitol. To better connect the park with the people who use it, the Bushnell Park Foundation has been working with the city on a temporary solution to reopen the arch to car traffic.

"We're trying to make the park accessible and the arch accessible while protecting the assets in the park," said Caren Kittredge, the foundation's president.

When the arch was open to traffic, Trinity Street was entirely two-way, said Linda Osten, a member of the foundation board who has worked on the temporary plan. Northbound traffic would take the right fork off the street and to the right of the arch; southbound traffic would enter Trinity Street by driving through the arch, she said.

Now, there is no northern access to the park on Trinity Street.

From a traffic engineer's perspective, the change makes sense. First, Osten said, one-way streets are a problem in a downtown area. "The more ways there are to get around, the more you can disperse traffic," she said.

And reopening the street also makes good sense from an economic development perspective, she said - confusing one-way streets scare away visitors.

"We're trying to make the street through the park part of the park, rather than something that cuts the park in half," Osten said.

The short-term plans for the arch include painting, planters, and more.

Engineers could "stripe" the road so that the travel lanes appear narrower, hinting to drivers that they should drive more slowly, Osten said. "It's like trying to fool the eye," she said.

Also, they could "neck down" the interior of the arch by placing planters on both sides of its interior passage - something that would both protect the arch and slow traffic.

Planters have been used before, and with success, she said.

In the end, though, "if it's a truly reckless driver, there's not much you can do," Osten said.

The planters would cost roughly $3,000 as an intermediate solution and could be in place this spring, she said. "That will reopen the street and protect the arch against most behaviors," Osten said.

The foundation will raise money for a larger capital improvement project that would widen sidewalks, install more permanent "bump-outs" to restrict traffic, change lighting and improve crosswalks, Osten said.

An official with the city public works department said that the city agrees with all of the foundation's suggestions.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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