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